The first "matryoshka" nesting doll set was made in 1890 by craftsman and carver Vasily Zvyozdochkin in the Russian village of Abramtsevo. Some people think that Japanese nesting dolls inspired his design for the Russian doll. The doll became popular in early Soviet education programs, which is why it is often thought of as a toy. The name matryoshka literally means "little mother," but today is synonymous with any theme of nesting doll! In the West, matryoshka dolls are sometimes referred to as “babushka” dolls because of their headscarves, but the word "babushka" actually means "grandmother" in Russian.