More About The Voodoo Dolls

In early April, the popularity of voodoo dolls in China had been noted in Voodoo Dolls In China.  This week, the subject is back in the news again.  And this is globalization at its best!

(Newsweek)  Curse of the Bureaucrats.  By Quindlen Krovatin.  May 24, 2006.

Not content with jailing subversive reporters and restricting access to prodemocracy Web sites, the Chinese government has turned its attentions to a new destabilizing influence: voodoo dolls. Central government authorities are so bothered by the political implications of the dolls that they banned them entirely from Beijing's retail stores in April.

The dolls have become increasingly popular among the Middle Kingdom's misanthropes and trend-conscious teens. Customers purchase a doll (pin included), attach a piece of paper bearing the name of their enemy to the doll and then stab away. Voodoo Dolls Online offers a wide range of dolls in assorted colors. "Do you want to make your enemy feel as if someone is always stalking him behind his back?" reads the caption next to a doll clad in black. " 'The Magic Shadow Killer' will thoroughly destroy his spirit." Another popular item is the "Little Angel," which purportedly brings good luck and helps its owner find true love.

Authorities at Beijing's Industrial and Commercial Management Department claim the dolls encourage superstition and "promote feudalism and feudal beliefs." When officials first cracked down on the import of dolls from Thailand two months ago, Chinese entrepreneurs filled the growing demand by making the toys themselves, wrapping colorful yarn around wire skeletons and adorning each with a crude felt heart. The toys were a marvel of marketing: told that one doll could not be used to harm multiple enemies, the youths who bought them kept coming back for new ones as their hit lists grew in length. Moreover, some stores offered protective dolls that could ward off attacks from other would-be witch doctors.

But now even these homegrown innovators are under attack. In April, after receiving complaints from concerned parents, the Beijing Industrial and Commercial Management Department confiscated all dolls still on sale in the city and issued strict warnings to toy vendors. "We have been told we will be fined and even imprisoned if we continue to sell voodoo dolls," says Huang Xiaoli, a saleswoman in a toy store in the Xidan Mingzhu Market. "The police are serious," she adds. "This is not like pirated DVDs, where the authorities say 'Do not sell these,' and then look the other way while people sell them. Policemen have visited me twice since the ban took effect in April. They really believe voodoo dolls can hurt children." Five separate toy merchants from various parts of Beijing confirmed the ban. A Ministry of Commerce official would not elaborate on its policy toward the dollsóa common practice when authorities are asked about politically sensitive decisionsóbut by way of explanation he directed a reporter to a law prohibiting the sale of items that foster what the government sees as feudal thought.

Voodoo dolls can still be purchased in cities outside of Beijing, such as Shenzhen and Guangzhou, where central-government policy can be slower to take hold, but already citizens across the country are calling for the Communist Party to enforce a nationwide ban. The Guangdong Provincial Communist Youth League Committee issued a public statement on May 4, the anniversary of China's liberation from imperial rule, calling for a boycott of voodoo dolls and labeling those who buy them "a disgrace to socialism for believing in feudal superstitions."

However, as is the case with all outlawed vices, the sale of voodoo dolls continues to flourish on the Internet. Web sites hawking the dolls have proliferated, customers can bid on dolls on auction Web sites such as eBay and China's Alibaba, and the phenomenon continues unabated in Korea and Japan, where their sale has never been restricted. Some critics feel that the government, by expending so much energy on the dolls, is only lending credence to the traditional Chinese belief in the power of curses and black magic. "Until a month ago, I was selling 10, maybe 11 voodoo dolls a day," says Chen, the owner of a toy store in southwestern Beijing who declined to give his full name when speaking ill of the government for fear of reprisal. "I think most of the kids bought them because they were popular, not because they wanted to hurt each other. The government looks foolish when it acts scared of some silly toys. These things only have power if you believe in them."

Since the initial crackdown, there have been no voodoo-doll-related arrests, although vendors who continue to sell the dolls run the risk of incurring a hefty fine per voodoo doll in their possession. Whether a nationwide ban will be instituted remains to be seen. Regardless, the Chinese government is once more confronting the problems that arise when a market economy and socialist ideology collide.

You will note that there was mention about banning imports from Thailand earlier.  How does Thailand look at this?

(The Nation)  China bans Thai 'voodoo dolls'  May 3, 2006.

Restrictions on Thai-made goods might be common hurdles for exporters or manufacturers when it comes to product quality, but makers of a handmade doll have been hit by a ban in China that few could have foreseen.

Chinese authorities been banned the dolls - made mainly of ropes, steel wires and threads - because of concerns they possess black-magic powers and have obsessed young Chinese buyers, who use them against people they hate.

Chinese officials acted on complaints from parents that their teenage children had performed black-magic rites on their dolls - including piercing needles into them - in the belief that they could harm people they hate, said Kanya Thuailai, manager of Saen Ha Co Ltd, which produces the dolls.

Kanya said the ban had affected her company quite drastically, as China was the main buyer of the dolls.  Her company produces about 60,000 dolls each month. It also exports them to Taiwan, Japan and the US.

She said the dolls, made in 70 styles, generated around Bt3 million for her company and the more than 250 villagers in Chiang Mai's Doi Saket, Chaiya Prakarn and Mae Rim districts who produce the dolls.

She said the problem began two years ago when retailers in Taiwan started marketing the toys as voodoo dolls that could be used to harm other people.

"But there are no problems elsewhere except for China, after parents petitioned authorities, complaining that their children were obsessed with the black-magic frenzy," she said.

So what?  This is merely a social issue and completely apolitical.  Wrong!  Indeed, who would have ever thought that voodoo dolls are political tools!?

(Reuters)  Mexicans needle candidates with "voodoo" dolls.  May 26, 2006.

Sick of politicians who fail to keep promises, Mexicans are sticking pins in voodoo-style dolls of presidential candidates to needle them into becoming better public servants.  A Mexican firm is selling dolls of the main candidates in the July election, along with needles and a guide on where to prick the effigies.

To improve transparency in governance, you might prick the doll in the left eye, in the heart for honesty, in the right hand for good sense or even in the crotch, for courage.

"It is like acupuncture from a distance," said Alberto Nava, a publicist and creator of the hand-size dolls, branded as "Vuducratas," a mix of the words voodoo and bureaucrat in Spanish.  The dolls, sold for $13 online and in a few novelty stores, were "political teaching tools" and not voodoo religious objects, Nava said.

The doll of "El Peje," the nickname for leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, is the most popular. Lopez Obrador, who critics say would ruin Mexico's finances, is second in the opinion polls, slightly behind conservative candidate Felipe Calderon.  "El Peje is sold out," said Monica Gutierrez, manager of a store that sells about a dozen of the dolls per week. "If people were not afraid (of voodoo), I would sell hundreds," she said.

The dolls have raised eyebrows among Catholic customers who are scared by voodoo, Nava said.  There are also dolls for main opposition party candidate Roberto Madrazo and first lady Marta Sahagun, who is not a candidate.

Gutierrez said many store customers touch the dolls and play with them. At the end of the day, she often finds the dolls pricked in the heart and in the left eye.  "But most of them have the pin you know where," she said pointing between one doll's legs.

Meanwhile at the world's most covered event, there are voodoo dolls for the FIFA World Cup teams.

(Reuters)  World Cup marketing mania - from voodoo to vibrators.  May 29, 2006.

A voodoo doll with five pins and the national emblems of all your enemy teams. Toilet paper with World Cup trivia. Pork slices emblazoned with a soccer player dribbling down the field.

These are just a few of the unofficial World Cup-related items available in German stores and on German Web sites as merchants try to cash in on World Cup mania before the month-long international soccer tournament kicks off in Germany on June 9. The competition transfixes much of the world, and interest among Americans has been growing.

"Put a charm on your favorite team with this special set. It includes one voodoo doll, 34 national emblems and five needles. Weaken any opponents: Simply attach the emblem, stick in the needles and off you go," the description says.  But the maker warns there is "No guarantee!" it will work.