Vasily Petrovich Zvyozdochkin(1876–1956) was a Russian turning craftsman, wood carver and doll maker. He is credited with making the first Russian matryoshka doll (painted by Sergey Malyutin) in 1890.
The first matryoshka was produced in 1890 by woodcarver Vasily Zvyozdochkin and designer Sergey Maliutin in a Moscow workshop on the estate of industrialist and patron of the arts Savva Mamontov. The dolls came in an eight-piece set of girls, boys, and a baby. But the largest matryoshka was crafted in 1970. It consisted of 72 pieces and cost 3,000 rubles – at today’s rates, roughly $100, although the money was worth much more back then. At that time, one of the most popular Soviet cars cost around $200 more than the doll. The mammoth matryoshka was dedicated to the birthday of Vladimir Lenin and put on exhibition in Japan.
Matryoshkas are so named based on the Latin “mater”, which means mother. In Old Russian, the name Matryona or Matriosha was very popular among peasants. Thus, the name is connected to the image of a mother of a big peasant family.