Artisans make Barbie-like 'cholita' dolls

Imitation Barbie dolls dressed as Aymara indigenous women stand in a doll making workshop in El Alto, Bolivia. The dolls will be sold at the annual Alasita Fair, a three week fair of miniature items in La Paz beginning late January. (AP)

It's a long way from Malibu: Bolivian artisans are dressing up a Barbie-inspired doll in clothing typical of the Andean nation's indigenous heritage.

Forget the hair always being blond, the heels high and the skirt a flirty pink. This doll's locks are sometimes black and woven into braids, and she wears low black shoes, a shawl and a long, colorful, patterned skirt known as a "pollera."

On top is the crowning touch, the bowler hat favored by Aymara women who dress in "cholita" style.

The dolls are made in China and imported to the Andean nation, where 15 young artisans at the Creaciones Hugo shop work to transform them.

The doll is a kind of Bolivian Barbie, according to shop owner Hugo Ramos.

"With the cholita Barbie, it occurred to us to give her a different and distinct look, since she is so admired and in demand," he said. "To dress up in a pollera is a thing of pride; it shows who we are."

The dolls will be sold during the popular Alasitas festival, which takes place Tuesday in La Paz.

They are not affiliated with the Barbie brand or parent company Mattel Inc., based in El Segundo, California.

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