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Bosnian Girl Crafts Folklore-Inspired Barbie Dolls

CultureBosnian Girl Crafts Folklore-Inspired Barbie Dolls

In the bustling city of Sarajevo, a young Bosnian girl is reimagining a classic childhood toy in a manner that melds modernity with tradition. As the world celebrates a new Barbie movie, Esma Gljiva, a spirited eleven-year-old, is infusing these popular dolls with the vibrant essence of Balkan folklore. The blend of bright colors, intricate patterns, and elaborate details results in Barbie dolls adorned in traditional Balkan attire complete with headdresses, decorative aprons, and tiny jewelry that narrate tales of Bosnia’s rich multi-religious traditions.

Esma’s journey into the world of doll-making began unexpectedly. A visit to a local souvenir shop revealed figures that seemed inauthentic to her, with their clothes crudely glued on and a lack of motion that did not resonate with the lively Bosnian culture she knew. Recognizing the absence of genuine representation, Esma decided to craft dolls that would truly depict the vibrancy of her homeland.

Being brought up amidst a family of passionate amateur folklore dancers, Esma’s connection to Bosnian traditions runs deep. She is an active member of a local folklore group and possesses profound knowledge about Bosnia’s diverse religious traditions, encompassing Muslim, Christian Orthodox, and Catholic customs. This cultural education translates into her creations, where Esma showcases remarkable attention to detail. From ensuring the authenticity of the dolls’ costumes to meticulously crafting miniature jewelry and hairstyles, her dedication is palpable.

Eager to provide her dolls a unique identity, Esma aptly named them the “Bosnian Barbie dolls.” But her creativity doesn’t end there. She’s already envisioning a male counterpart, preparing designs for a “Bosnian folklore Ken.”

Word of Esma’s unparalleled creations has rapidly spread, transcending the boundaries of Sarajevo and Bosnia. Every day, orders pour in, with her dolls finding homes in countries as varied as Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Turkmenistan, Norway, and Britain.

Interestingly, Esma hasn’t yet watched the new Barbie movie. However, those around her can’t help but draw parallels, observing that she personifies the film’s predominant themes of female empowerment, independence, and entrepreneurship.

Esma’s “Bosnian Barbie dolls” are more than just toys. They are a testament to the preservation of culture, the fusion of past and present, and the incredible potential that resides in young minds when they are nurtured with love, tradition, and a sense of purpose.


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