The first time I ever touched a real Matryoshka is in Harbin, China. The city is close to Russia and the influence of Russian influence is evident enough. Besides the Saint Sophia Cathedral, the most obvious Russian thing is probably the Matryoshka dolls on sale everywhere.
When my mother saw that a vendor opened a doll, she exclaimed，“Wow! How fun!” The vendor was excited and turned out all the layers of the doll. There were six of them. I realized that my mother had never known the true structure of Matryoshka dolls before.
Back in the hotel, my mother told that she had seen some Matryoshka dolls in the shops of Manhattan, but she didn’t know that they could be put into one another and are hollow inside except for the smallest one in the set. “Who would be so boring to make the same doll of so many different sizes?” My mother laughed as she said, “That was my first reaction.” Well, if the shop owner had taken one of the layer and put the top and bottom separately, it would have been much clearer, I guess.
The modern Matryoshka dolls are quite fancy. I have seen them with different expressions and patterns on each layer, and sometimes with two faces on the same head, one in front, and one in back. It’s a fun way to express culture and emotions.