The history of Russian porcelain dolls begins with the first Russian factory founded in 1744 with chiefly small items being made. It was a monumental occasion when it first began, as it was the first enterprise in Russia and only the third throughout the entire European nations.
It wasn’t until the 1750’s that the first porcelain dolls in forms both of animals and humans were created. These were available to only a small number of people, namely nobility. As industry expanded, more of these stunning dolls found their way to loving arms of children and caring hands of several adults resulting in some of the most breathtaking collections of handcrafted dolls.
Today’s porcelain dolls continue to reflect their beginnings as many of them are dressed in traditional costumes complete with ornate embroidery and fur trimmed wraps and hats. These costumes often depict the area of Russia they come from. The half-moon hats, also known as Kokoshnik, are reminiscent of the Northern and Central provinces while the dolls costumed with rectangular hats, called Soroka, are from the more southerly reaches of Russia.
Exceptionally beautiful bead work worked with pearls is common as are gold embroidered patterns. These stunning costumes are generally hand stitched and embroidered, as the original dress would have been. The porcelain hands and faces are completely hand painted adding to the charm and validation of the doll. Most often, the body and garments are hand stitched increasing the value of the doll.
A collection of Russian porcelain dolls is never complete without a set of the Four Seasons dolls, which represent, of course, the fours seasons and the splendor of these in Russia. Summers are beautiful with bright flowers and lush grasses; winters are cold and cover everything in a shimmering layer of ice and frost. Spring is the renewal and promise of the year to come with fall being a time for harvest and a return to the earth. Each Russian porcelain doll from this series is detailed depicting a version of elaborate traditional garb including headdress in the colors, fabrics, and materials of the seasons.
For the serious collector of dolls, the Russian porcelain dolls should not be overlooked. They continue to carry forth old traditions in a new world that tends to overlook the past.
Simply knowing that somewhere the age-old custom of handmade Russian porcelain dolls still exists and is continuing to bring beauty and joy to so many is enough to continue to collect this wonderful art form. They will retain their beauty with attentive care and the most minor of repairs generations down the line. Such a doll given to a child would inspire new adventures and a longing to learn the stories of old. Children love to play with such exquisite creations in the beginning simply because of the beauty of the doll. Soon, though, their natural curiosity blooms and they begin to inquire about stories that reflect their doll, the dress, and eventually the history behind such a remarkable piece of folklore.
An assortment of small Russian porcelain dolls in the six-inch size would be an affordable way to bring a bit of the heritage into the foreground of a child’s mind without breaking the bank. Learning about the doll, determining where she came from by her clothing would bring families closer together as they learned together.
These small Russian porcelain dolls would also fit handily into many dollhouses for hours of imaginative play. Russian porcelain dolls have a resplendent history just waiting to be shared by new generations of doll lovers, children, and collectors all over the world.
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