Mordva (Мордовия) Matryoshka Small Bottle Case, or Holder. This vintage small bottle holder, or box, is uncommon in our experience. It's name is "Erzyanka", and it came from the Meltsan woodworking plant. "Made in USSR" stamp on the bottom. 1980s. Touch of wear, otherwise in like new condition, 7". 1 only, as shown.
The Mordovian matryoshka fell between the cracks of nesting doll history, which began in the late 1890s in Sergiev Posad. The humble matryoshka set out through the village of Merinovo to the city of Semyonov (Gorky, now Nizhny Novgorod, the villages of Polkhovsky Maidan, Krutets and Voskresenskoye, to Kirov (Viatka), Nolinsk and Kalinin (Tver), and finally turning up in Mordovia in 1957. (As a sidenote, the matryoshka also stopped in Bashkir, Mari, Karelia, Podolsk, Kuban, Belarus and Ukraine.)
In Mordova, the matryoshka appeared at the Meltsansky district industrial complex. In order to make the dolls, Meltsan workers - who were soon to become proficient skilled craftspeople - needed to find suitable materials, construct production technology, and to train artists, who were taught by Semyonov and Posad artists. Besides the Meltsansky workshop combine, others successful woodworking plants included Gavrilov (Workshop), plus Ardatovsky, Atyashevsky, Elnikovsky, Romodanovsky, Krasnoslobodsky, Staroshaigovsky, Temnikovsky and Tengushevsky districts. Given their origin, Mordovian dolls are reminiscent of Semyonov and Posad work.
The Republic of Mordovia, or Mordvinia, has been a federal republic of Russia since 1994. When this doll was made - in the late 1980s - Mordovia had been part of the Soviet Union since the 1930s and was known as Mordovian Autonomous Socialist Soviet Republic (Mordovian ASSR). The republic is located in the eastern part of Russia. The Mordvins are predominantly Christian and are related to the Mari and the Finns.