Wednesday, November 4, 2009

To Russia with love

I have just bought these three little dolls for my daughter. They are made by the very talented Lisa Tilse (check out The Red Thread).

They remind me of babushka dolls, and Daisy looks just like a little Red Riding Hood.

Everywhere I look at the moment I seem to see babushkas and many are made right here in Melbourne.

Here is a babushka softie made by another talented crafty lady - Jhoanna Arenez:

Here is one made by Morgan Wills out of vintage fabric (they come as rattles or mother and child)

And here are real wooden ones sold through the Babushka Shop in Melbourne.

And if you want to freak your children out, what about some wall decals?

So why do we love babushkas? It is something to do with the nesting aspect, the fact that you can put them all away neatly into one package and perhaps they remind us of the rosy cheeked plump smiling mother we all need.

But for me, it is because, as my husband says, I have a depressed Slavic soul residing deep down inside me.

I have always loved Russian history, perhaps inspired by studying Russian politics at university at the same time as perestroika and glasnost were happening in the USSR in 1989. I have always related to the pre WW1 period. I also love (in no particular order) birch tree forests, tiaras, borscht and beetroot generally, author Simon Sebag Montefiore, Cold War spy thrillers and books by Robert Ludlum, snowy mountains, James Bond films set in Russia, Mikael Gorbachev, as I have previously mentioned Peter and the Wolf, Prokofiev, the Ballet Russes, Marc Chagall, Kandinsky, Dr Zhivago and all things Boris Pasternak, sleds, fur hats, balalaika music, St Petersberg, histories of Stalingrad, Dosteoyevsky, the film 'Burnt by the Sun', a dacha in the Ukraine and Russian iconic art. However I do not like vodka.

If you read only one Russian history book in your life, make it Robert K Massie's Nicholas and Alexandra which you can buy second hand online:

And if this photo does not sum up the tragedy of 1919 Russia nothing does:

If you are familiar with this period you will know that Tsar Nicholas came very close to escaping (as his mother, the Dowager Duchess who was actually Danish, managed to do). He was stupidly brave and never really believed that his life was really in danger until the very end.

(Images: (1)(2)(3) The Red Thread (4) Red Robin (5) Morgan Wills (6) The Babushka Shop (7) Tangletree Interiors (8) The Russian Shop (9) Not sure)


parisa mahmoudi said...

Hi Jane!!! :)

I'm really happy to be in your lovely blog!What a cute dolls , the first one is the best one!Thanks to share them with us.

Have a great time

Lizzie said...


What an adorable blog you have here! :) I'm so glad I came across it via another blogger friend. :)

Say...there is a London expat getting ready to throw a virtual English Christmas Tea Party. I'm most certain you would love it. You can visit here to read about it and sign up to attend:

Rebecca said...

oh but have you SEEN the babushka doll MEASURING CUPS!!!!!!!!!!!!! so so cute!

douglas & hope have them

Amanda (Small Acorns) said...

I love Lisa's cute creations. Wouldn't mind a tea party in a wee bedroom like that either!

Jacqueline @ HOME said...

What cute little dolls, Jane. Your daughter will love them.
I have also been intriged with Russian history, particularly the tragic story of Tsar Nicholas and his family.....don't think that I would like to be left in Siberia, though ! XXXX

Dumbwit Tellher said...

Jane - I must run out & track down that book. I don't know nearly enough about Russian history & now you have sparked my interest. Your daughter I would think will adore her new dolls. They could not be cuter. Yes, I must agree that my fascination with Babushka's is the fact that they all tuck neatly away. Great post as always! xO

Jane said...

Bec - just checked out the Douglas and Hope ones. They are divine. AND I have a shop near my work. I may have to grab them thanks for letting me know. xoxo

Julie@beingRUBY said...

HI Jane
Fascinating post. Aside from the dolls which are very cute by the way, the historical aspect is interesting isn't it. I think I would agree that pre WWI Russia was a fascinating period in history, although my knowledge of this period is really just based on movies, books etc.

Thanks for inspiring us to be a little more inquisitive. xx Julie

me, myself, I said...

I am delighted to have happened upon your blog - great stuff Thanks for sharing ^_^

Samy said...

Great post. I love Babushkas specially because it was the first gift my hubby gave me (he brought them from Ukraine, just before we got engaged).

Monika said...

A very meaningful post again, but it is no suprise. I really like reading your little stories. As someone who came from a little Eastern European country, I have quite controversial feelings towards Russia. Our history is very strongly attached to it, we were living in the shadow of the Soviet Union for decades. But many great things came from Russia and although I never visited it, I think that Moscow and Saint-Petersburg are beautiful. We still own lots of Russian memorabilia, e.g. toys which my sons like so much.

jane said...

i can´t stop reading your blog! and i have so much to do! stop writing such interesting posts so i can get some work done! :)

Laura said...

I too love the babushkas...although those decals might be a bit overwhelming! I adore Russia and all things Russian I think almost as much as you do. I had a friend who visited years ago in the dead of winter and she said it was freezing, everyone was surly and the edges were all hard. I nearly swooned with jealousy. Something hopelessly romantic about it all isn't there?

Millie said...

I think your DH was a little harsh with his comments about your suppressed Slavic soul Jane! I enjoyed Massie's book too, although there were moments where I gasped out loud at the brutality depicted. MOTH occasionally calls me his Little Trotskyist if I'm coming down on him particularly hard. I don't find that interesting tag of affection useful!
Millie ^_^

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