That’s Chinese for “Barbie Doll”.
There are a bunch of museums that feature Barbie dolls: There is the Hawaii Loves Barbie Doll Museum, with about 5,000 Barbies. The J&M Barbie Museum in the Netherlands has about half as many. The Strong Museum in Rochester, New York just got 1,500 Barbie dolls earlier this year. But nothing can top the Barbie Hall of Fame‘s 14,000 dolls.
Compared to these numbers, the paltry 400 Barbie dolls at the new Doll Museum in Taipei may not sound like much, but its location is what’s interesting. You see, from 1967 to 1987, Mattel Ltd. formed a joint venture with Taiwanese company Huahsia Plastic, and Barbie dolls were made at Taishan’s Mattel factory.
The factory employed over 2,000 people making every single part of the Barbie dolls, from the molded plastic and polyvinyl chloride bodies right down to the final packaging. There were other, smaller factories in nearby towns and in other counties; in its heyday, Mattel employed more than 8,000 people in Taiwan. Former employees, some of whom were asked for their input by museum planners, are still nostalgic when talking about the halcyon days of working at Mattel’s flagship Barbie factory.
It seems that theft of Barbie body parts was rampant:
Employees and the security guards eventually hired by management engaged in a game of cat and mouse when it came to smuggled dolls. People would take Barbie’s arms, for example, or legs home hidden in their undergarments and, after a few days and enough smuggled body parts, a full doll could be assembled at home. Others secreted entire dolls in their bellbottom trousers–this was the 1970s, after all. It was thought of less as theft than as a simple matter of expediency.
Naturally, employees caught stealing were summarily fired, but those who did not even try were considered strange. Today, former employees look back at the experience with a nostalgic chuckle.
The dolls in the museum are dressed up as Taiwanese Aborigine women, as well as in the various uniforms Mattel employees wore during the two decades the factory was located in Taishan.
Here is a site with a bunch of links (in Chinese) related to 芭比娃娃.