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The Department Store Dummies of Beijing

When I visited Beijing in August, 2004, I found that part of it felt like Fifth Avenue, and other parts were still pure Communist Hellhole. And then there were certain things that were neither of the above--such as the dummies that clothing stores used to display their wares. I find them fascinating, and I'm still not sure why. Maybe it's the facial expressions, which tend towards a certain blase dignity even when the dummy is wearing a bizarre hat or, in sweltering weather, a heavy coat. (The female figures all look like Barbie crossed with Lucille Ball in a bad mood.) Maybe it's that they appeared not just in big stores but everywhere, including little hole-in-the-wall joints, and sometimes seemed to be forming veritable armies. It could be that though few of the dummies look very Asian in terms of ethnicity, they're very Asian on some level I don't quite understand. Or maybe it's just that I fascinate easy.

In any case, here are a few photos I snapped of them.

-- Harry