This week, Ailsa‘s photo challenge theme is Toys.
I have chosen a photo of Nevalyashka dolls, found at an exhibition about Soviet Design in Moscow in January 2013.
Generations of Soviet toddlers were entertained by some version of the Nevalyashka roly-poly doll, the matryoshka’s less glamorous cousin. Wooden versions were popular in the 19th century, representing rubicund merchants and clowns. The first Nevalyashkas were probably inspired by Japanese Daruma dolls, which function as good luck charms and represent Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism. The principle is always the same: a weight placed low inside the hollow body of the toy ensures it always bounces back to a vertical position. Coupled with a colorful appearance and a tinkling sound, the Nevalyashka is a fun and engaging toy, still popular to this day. It assumed its shiny new plastic incarnation in the late 1950s at the Sergiev Posad toy institute and was rolled out to factories across the Soviet Union. The mass drive for consumer goods led to strange synergies, with one gunpowder plant adding the new toys to its production line in 1959. It still manufactures them today, in a range of 35 different models.