Bosnian girl creates ‘folklore Barbie’ as film wins doll new fans worldwide

August 17, 2023 - 9:59 AM
Esma Gljiva, an 11-year-old Bosnian girl, shows dolls that she dresses in traditional Bosnian costumes, hoping that her folklore Barbie will reach many, as the frenzy surrounding the launch of the "Barbie" movie spreads across the world, in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, August 15, 2023. (Reuters/Amel Emric)

 A Bosnian girl is making traditional Balkan costumes with headdresses and decorative aprons for Barbie dolls, hoping to create interest in her folklore Barbie as the new “Barbie” movie wins fans worldwide.

Eleven-year-old Esma Gljiva from Sarajevo started her project more than a month ago after seeing poor quality figures in a souvenir shop. Souvenir figures are typically not proper moving dolls and their clothes are just glued on.

“These were some plastic dolls dressed in folklore costumes, they were not even the real dolls, … they were not properly dressed at all,” Esma told Reuters showing new dolls from her collection.

“I tried to do it in a better way, and I think that I succeeded,” she said.

Esma has yet to see the Barbie movie, but her friends and family say she embodies the spirit of female independence and entrepreneurship that dominates the film.

Raised in a family of devoted amateur folklore dancers, Esma has learned a lot about Bosnia’s multi-religious traditions and is herself a member of a local folklore group.

She is very precise when making dolls dressed in traditional Muslim, Christian Orthodox and Catholic costumes, and takes care over hairstyles and miniature jewellery.

She says she would name her dolls the “Bosnian Barbie dolls”

and she is planning costumes for a Bosnian folklore Ken.

Esma receives orders for her dolls daily, and she has sent them to Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Turkmenistan, Norway, Britain and other countries.

“We are so proud that she embraced this project with such devotion, and spent her summer holiday days doing this,” said Esma’s mother Adana Gljiva. “She also earned her pocket money.”

—Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Alexandra Hudson