Russian nesting dolls or stacking dolls or Matryoshka is probably one of the most popular Russian national souvenirs.
Why the name matryoshka? In olden times among the Russian peasants, the name Matryona or Matryosha was a very popular female name. Scholars say this name has a Latin root “mater” meaning “Mother”. The name was associated with the image of a mother who was very healthy with a portly figure and the head of a large peasant family. By in by it became its symbolic name because of its brightly painted wooden figurines that were made in such a way that they could be taken apart to reveal smaller dolls fitting inside one another.