Middle Eastern Mannequins: A Secret and Surreal World

Mannequin Twins

Some are beautiful and have warm eyes that look but don’t quite stare. Others are eerie, with fixed expressions and penetrating eyes that seem to follow you.

Most are a hybrid: bizarre yet beautiful, surreal and striking.

During my many trips around the world, I’ve probably seen thousands of mannequins. None, however, caught my eye quite like the ones I saw in three cities in the Middle East:

  • Mardin, Eastern Turkey
  • Amman, Jordan
  • Aleppo, Syria

Connected Somehow?

For some reason, I found ‘them’ a bit more peculiar than the typical ones. Certainly, they have a unique look. But there’s something else that’s intriguing–a bizarre connection ‘they’ seem to share.

Do they come from the same manufacturer?  Or are they part of a sub-culture of android mannequins who live and function in their own little society or world? Perhaps they’re  similar in some way to the sea monkeys from way back when. Remember them? Their secret and surreal world also made one stop and wonder…

There’s so much more to say here…but maybe I should just let the mannequins…um…speak for themselves.

Cooperative Caption Writing

Originally, I’d left some of the captions blank and asked readers to interpret the photos and to come up with captions in the Comments section (check them out; they’re hilarious!) I then sorted through them and chose my favorites, the ones I thought best captured the essence of the mannequin or was, quite simply, too funny to pass up.

Hence, most of these captions are from readers. A few were a joint effort between me and them. And a few are mine. (See contributors’ list at the end of the post.)

1. Franky’s Hanky

Is it my imagination or does the mannequin on the bottom right look a little like Frankenstein? And why’s a tie coming out of his nose? The main mannequin dude, with the red hat, also has what I call a “tie hanky.”

Alternative Caption: #1: Tie-Land: Land of a Million Knots

2. ‘Hey, Mommy–I Shrunk…Myself!

I can understand buying something slightly too big for one’s child if the sale price is low; he or she can always ‘grow into it.” But I’m sorry–this one’s a bit over the top. I think it looks sort of silly!

Alternative Caption: London Britches Falling Down

3 . Maybelline PMS Queen

This one doesn’t exactly give me a warm and fuzzy feeling; she looks a bit biotchy. I do like her lipstick, though. Nice color that appears to be long-lasting. Is she beautiful or is it Maybelline? Or simply a PMS queen? Actually, both. And the lipstick shade, for anyone interested, is…PMS Plum.

4. Golan Heights 90210

Even though these mannequins were photographed in Mardin, Eastern Turkey (and not Syria), I think this contributor’s caption is hysterical and works great. Sure there were some cool-looking kids in Mardin (and some a little upscale), but let’s be real; none looked like this.

Alternative caption: Hulk Hogan Does Legally Blonde

5. Buy 2 Hijabs, Get 1 Set of Zombie Eyes FREE!

I saw 100s of Muslim women during both of my trips and not one had this sort of shock ‘n’ awe sort of appearance. Seeing these mannequins, I wanted to ask what they were seeing that I wasn’t.

Alternative caption: “They’ve got Elham Shaheen eyes” (sung to the tune of Bette Davis eyes) Note: Elham is a famous Egyptian actress.

6. ‘Watch Where You Put that Dagger!’

Here, I do know what’s happening–or rather, what’s going to happen. If you’ve been to Turkey (or if you played the last Trippy Travel Photo Game), you know, too. These are  special “sultan’s costumes” that Turkish boys wear for for their circumcision day celebration. The daggers were, I assume, once carried by the sultans.

7. Not Half the ‘Man’nequin I Used to Be

Not sure what went wrong here. Maybe a mannequin designer got laid off and just didn’t get around to finishing his/her job? Or they decided to cut corners and cut off half his head? Whatever the case, he’ll never have to worry about a bad hair day. And that could reduce mannequin maintenance costs–a good thing in a bad economy.

Alternative caption: ‘No, my factory job isn’t dangerous.’

8. Cleopatra Dominicana (aka, Mannequin #FAIL)

I call this one a “fail” because ‘she’ doesn’t quite make sense. She’s looks a tiny bit like Cleopatra on a bad day and very much like a former student of mine from the Domincan Republic.I think someone fell asleep or cheated during “Ethnic Mannequin Anthropology 101.” Or maybe the worker was downsized/disgruntled and sabotaged the job (see #7. Please excuse the hashtag; I’ve been on Twitter a lot lately.

9. Mannequins of the Corn

When I first saw this, I had a flashback to one of the silly DoubleMint Gum commericals featuring hyper smiley twins. I also imagined some sort of “paddycakes fail.” But then, one of the caption contributors suggested Children of the Corn or a variation of it and I thought ‘yes’! Creepy movie…creepy mannequins!

Alternative caption: Mary Kate and Ashley (if Full House was cancelled after only 1 season)

10. Drama Queens

I love this one for a few reasons. There’s definitely a sense of drama to it and story that seems to want to be told. Caddy women talking about another one behind her back? Or something more?

Alternative caption: “Dahling, you really need to get some sun!”

Caption Contributors List

Specials thanks and credit to the following folks whose captions writing skill really caught my eye–and that of the mannequins. Fantastic job capturing the true essence of these unusual plastic beings!

Best Captions

#2: Hey Mommy–I Shrunk Myself: Aaron of Aaron’s Worldwide Adventures

#4: Golan Heights 90210: Brett of Our Tasty Travels

#5: Buy 2 Hijabs, Get 1 Set of Zombie Eyes FREE! Aaron (see #3) with minor editing from me

#6: Watch Where You Put That Dagger!: Brett

#8: Cleopatra Domincana: Helen B, an aspiring cartoonist

#9: Mannequins of the Corn: Iain of Mallory on Travel

Runner-up/Alternative Caption Credit: Brett, Aaron, Helen B and Helena, a rockin’ ESL Prof who’s in 2 amazing bands.

Honorable Mentions: Scott of The Shirt Off My Backpack, Natalie of Turkish Travel Blog and Helena.

Other captions (not on this list) were written by me, Lisa (the Chicky Bus Driver). :)

Thanks to everyone who contributed and to those who commented; it was because of you that this was successful and fun! #YouRock!

58 Responses to Middle Eastern Mannequins: A Secret and Surreal World
  1. Scott
    January 6, 2011 | 6:01 pm

    6. Boy #1: “Any tips for today’s Ceremony”? Boy#2: “Nope!”
    7. Sadly he was just a “collar pop” away from being ready to go out for the night when tragedy struck.
    9. Ladies & Gentlemen, the Middle East’s Latest Boy Band: Mannequin Hanson!
    10. OMG, look at her dress, can you believe she is wearing that?
    Scott recently posted..Why I Love New Years EveMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      January 6, 2011 | 7:38 pm

      Hi, Scott…welcome! I love all of your caption ideas; they’re hilarious! #6 is a strong contender and so is 9 (which has a nice ring to it!). #10 is great, too, since I could see one woman (I mean, mannequin) saying that to another! #7 is also funny. Must have been a serious tragedy, right?
      Overall, it’s great stuff!

      Check back tomorrow; I think I’ll be announced the winners by late Fri. night or early Sat. morning. Thanks for playing!

  2. Iain Mallory
    January 6, 2011 | 6:15 pm

    Not really sure if I will be a help or a hindrance at this but here goes:

    3. Bad hair day? or going with the Maybeline theme “maybe its Maybeline”

    4. Far too many cocktails during #TNI

    5. Oh no we don’t have to watch not another Justin Bieber video? (that is his name right?) lol

    6. Why have you bought me this nice new costume again????

    9. Ummm I am afraid “Children of the Corn” is all that comes to mind here …… scarey!

    • CB Driver
      January 6, 2011 | 7:44 pm

      Iain–you are always a help and fun, too. Glad you joined in!

      #3 could be shortened to just focus on the hair (or lack of it)…it’s funny, I think.
      #4: Ooh…that’s a good one. They do look sort of buzzed or under the influence. That’s a strong contender, for sure!!
      #5: Ha, ha…great!
      #6: Could you imagine having to go through that ceremony twice? Ouch. But I suppose that once is all that’s needed…
      #9: I LOVE it. So funny. Maybe it could be “Children of the Corn, Turkish Style.”

      Thanks so much for playing. You’ve got some awesome captions here–they make me LOL a lot–and I’m sure at least one of them will be used, which means you’ll win something (corn, cocktail or a smile from one of the mannequins). :)

      • Iain Mallory
        January 7, 2011 | 1:11 pm

        As long as I don’t get a smile off one of the “Children of the Corn” they freak me out lol

        • CB Driver
          January 7, 2011 | 1:40 pm

          That’s funny. They scare me, too! Weird movie. Boo!

  3. Helen B
    January 6, 2011 | 7:49 pm

    2. “London Bridges Falling Down”
    London Britches Falling Down

    3. Maybeline Eyes and Loreal Lipstick

    8. Movie extra for Cleopatra

    9. Skip and Chip are are not identical twins. Chips
    do not match. Somehow the chips got skipped.

    • CB Driver
      January 6, 2011 | 10:46 pm

      Nice ones, Helen. I like #2 a lot because I can hear it and envision the boy with his pants falling off! #3 works well and #8 is funny! She is sort of Cleo-like.

      Skip and Chip are definitely odd, huh? And perhaps not identical due to the ‘skipped chip’–LOL. Fun.

      Thanks for the captions…..they’re great ones!

  4. Sabina
    January 6, 2011 | 7:57 pm

    I like this topic and those photos. I guess I’ve actually temporarily forgotten what mannequins in the US look like beause your photos look pretty normal to me. In the UAE – at least in Sharjah – adult faces are illegal on mannequins, advertisements that are displayed on store windows, etc. Children’s faces are legal. So most of the mannequins I see are headless or featureless. I’ve even seen mannequins who clearly do have heads and facial features with dark pantyhose pulled over their faces to hide them. Bizarre, huh?

    • CB Driver
      January 6, 2011 | 11:10 pm

      Very interesting that the adult faces are illegal, but the kids’ faces are OK. And wild that most are headless and featureless. Yes, the use of the dark pantyhose is bizarre. Just wondering…are the mannequins covered in shapeless clothes (chadors?) mostly or in the more modern and slightly fitted “Muslim chic”?

      Thanks for sharing your experience/perspective!

      • Sabina
        January 7, 2011 | 12:53 am

        The ones I see in Sharjah are usually in abayas. Probably in Dubai they’re wearing more western clothing sometimes. I’ve only buzzed through a couple of malls really quickly and mannequins weren’t what I was looking at, so I can’t say. They’re sure not wearing bathing suits, though 😉

        • CB Driver
          January 7, 2011 | 9:49 am

          Interesting re: the abayas. I’m sure that you’re right re: the bathing suits. Thanks for the info!

  5. souzan
    January 6, 2011 | 9:50 pm

    I have a suggestion for the 3rd one but i cant write it here, will tell you later looool… great work as usual lees

    • CB Driver
      January 6, 2011 | 11:14 pm

      Hi, Souzan. Glad you liked this! But you’re leaving me/us hanging…making us curious. It must be edgy or slightly politically incorrect or something if you’re not posting it. I’ll wait. It’s OK. LOL Thanks for the visit! :)

  6. Natalie
    January 7, 2011 | 12:48 am

    3 – On way to Walmart and if you get in my way, I will mess you up big time!

    4 – Do you think anyone recognises us? Told you we should of just paid that bill!

    5 – We will exterminate you!!

    6 – Dude, Just hang on. Not long before they start handing out the money.

    7 – Man. I keep telling you that you are pointing the wrong way!
    Natalie recently posted..Weird and Funny Search Terms Used to Find My BlogMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      January 7, 2011 | 9:48 am

      These are fantastic, Natalie! I love #3; she does look like someone not to be messed with when ready to shop. I wonder if she might prefer ‘Targhzay’ as it’s more upscale? LOL #6 really cracks me up because yeah, they do get coins or something, don’t they, before the…um…circumcision? All terrific captions. Thank you!

  7. retrotraveller
    January 7, 2011 | 6:53 am

    Hiya… after I chat about this yesterday I felt I had to share this photo via Flickr http://bit.ly/dLiqiG … a clothing store in Cairo – mannequin heaven!!
    retrotraveller recently posted..5 photos I wish were mine – Making eye contactMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      January 7, 2011 | 9:50 am

      That’s a great pic….love it! Do you think that’s where they’re sent after they die (or are disassembled)? Thanks!

  8. Aaron
    January 7, 2011 | 11:20 pm

    #1: Tie-Land: Land of a Million Knots
    #2: Honey, I Shrunk…Myself!
    #3: Brooke Shields Photoshoot
    #4: Hulk Hogan Does Legally Blonde
    #5: Step Right Up! Pick out a fashionable look! Zombie eyes included!
    #6: Madam Tussaud’s: Istanbul Branch
    #7: No, my Factory Job Isn’t Dangerous…
    #8: I’ll Get You, My Pretty!
    #9: No, I Didn’t Eat the Chocolate Cake…
    #10: Sex in the Unibrow
    Aaron recently posted..Say What Travel Photo- Love the Monkey- Fear the Monkey!My Profile

    • CB Driver
      January 8, 2011 | 10:34 am

      Hi, Aaron. Great captions! Of course, I’m not surprised since you do so well with the Trippy Travel Photo guessing! :)

      Anyway, I think these are all great captions. They really made me laugh when I saw them! #2 is a strong contender; so is #4. I love #7…he, he, he. Poor guy. And #1 is cute, too. Hmmm… They’re all so good….which means that my decision will be very difficult. I may have to call in an independent 3rd party to help me choose.

      Thanks so much for playing along!!

  9. Brett
    January 8, 2011 | 12:01 am

    #3 Ready for Hot Arabian Nights

    #4 Golan Heights 90210

    #5 “They’ve got Elham Shaheen eyes” (sung to the tune of Bette Davis eyes)

    #6 Watch where you put that dagger…

    #9 Mary Kate and Ashley, if Full House was cancelled after only 1 season…
    Brett recently posted..Photo of the Week- Silkworms in a Can from South KoreaMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      January 8, 2011 | 10:37 am

      Very creative captions, Brett!! Each one cracked me up! #3 is definitely ready for something. Maybe PMS medication? #4’s caption is hysterical. They do look a bit 90210-like! And bringing music into #5 is clever. They’re all great, really, and now I’ve got to figure this out. I may just chose several and then give credit to all who participated since everyone’s done such a great job!


  10. Sofia
    January 8, 2011 | 3:57 am

    They look crazy! I haven’t paid much attention to mannequins, but from now on I will.

    • CB Driver
      January 8, 2011 | 10:39 am

      Hi, Sofia. Nutty, right? LOL. What’s really creepy here is that even if you’re not paying attention to them, they’re probably keeping an eye on you! :)

  11. Elle
    January 9, 2011 | 8:56 am

    Those are such awesomely creepy pictures. I don’t think I would have ever stopped to admire them and take photos of them. Great eye!
    Elle recently posted..339 Go back to IcelandMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      January 9, 2011 | 10:00 am

      Thank you, Elle, for the feedback. I love the way you put that (‘awesomely creepy’)–it’s perfect! Thanks for stopping by. More unusual stuff in the form of a game (Trippy Travel Photos) coming next week.

  12. Helena
    January 9, 2011 | 3:33 pm

    #6 Lose a little piece, gain a great outfit!

    #10 “Dahling, you really need to get some sun!”

    • CB Driver
      January 9, 2011 | 11:25 pm

      Good ones–funny! #10 works really well. :)

  13. Gray
    January 9, 2011 | 4:26 pm

    Mannequins freak me out almost as much as wax figures do. Creepy. I can’t figure it out. They’re just oversized Barbie dolls. But there you have it.
    Gray recently posted..Review- Hotel le TourvilleMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      January 9, 2011 | 11:26 pm

      Ooh….wax figures. Creepy. How about dolls in general and clowns? They’re freaky,too! :)

  14. Iain Mallory
    January 10, 2011 | 9:27 am

    that was great fun Lisa and you have certainly have some great captions now :)

    • CB Driver
      January 10, 2011 | 9:59 am

      That was fun, Iain–thanks to you and the others. I absolutely love the captions now. They’re just right. I think readers who stumble upon this will be thoroughly entertained!

      Thanks for playing…and stay tuned for more collaborative/interactive projects, including possibly writing a story together!

      • Iain Mallory
        January 10, 2011 | 12:46 pm

        Cool, I like the sound of that :)

  15. Steve
    January 10, 2011 | 11:37 am

    Too bad I missed out on playing. Those captions people came up with were pretty clever though. For some reasons, all the captions I would come up with would be about the mannequins hurting me. It’s probably because some of them just look so creepy.
    Steve recently posted..Are You Intellectually InbreedingMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      January 10, 2011 | 12:41 pm

      Shame…would have been fun with you involved, I’m sure! Glad you like the captions…thanks!

      Funny re: the mannequins hurting you. I totally understand that fear. I wonder if there’s a name for such a fear or fear of mannequins in general.

      Oh…just checked. Evidently, it’s ‘pediophobia.’ Per Wikipedia, it’s a “fear of dolls or, more generally, of ‘false representation of sentient beings’ such as mannequins or robots…The word is derived from the Greek word paidion, meaning “little child.” Sounds much worse than it is, though…

  16. Sprite
    January 10, 2011 | 6:26 pm

    fun and creepy :)

    • CB Driver
      January 10, 2011 | 11:26 pm

      Yes, definitely. Uh oh…one just turned his head (the first one) and he’s now looking in your direction. Run…now! :)

  17. Brett
    January 10, 2011 | 6:30 pm

    Thanks for liking some of my submissions :-) And to think, we all managed to do this without a single Andrew McCarthy or Kim Catrall joke! Oh…wait!
    Brett recently posted..Borneo Coffee – Yit Fho Rich Land Coffee from Tenom- Sabah in MalaysiaMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      January 10, 2011 | 11:26 pm

      I really liked them all–very funny. And true–you pulled that off! Nice job! :)

  18. Eve
    January 16, 2011 | 12:41 pm

    Ha, loved the photos! If you like mannequins and offbeat travel stories, you should check out Pueblo, a web series a friend and I are making about an English teacher in small-town Spain. One of the actresses is a captivating mannequin head. Link here.

    • CB Driver
      January 16, 2011 | 2:44 pm

      Glad you liked them. I will definitely check out that series. I love the idea of an actress with a mannequin head. How cool! :)

  19. Retail Supplies
    January 17, 2011 | 8:12 pm

    Some of these are really creepy. Funny captions!

  20. Laura
    April 27, 2011 | 11:56 pm

    These captions are awesome!!

    • CB Driver
      April 28, 2011 | 12:29 am

      Thanks, Laura! We had a blast working on them. I’m very happy with what everyone came up with!

  21. […] captions, too. These photos are just begging for them, don’t you think? Almost as much as the Manic Middle Eastern Mannequins were. (At least, these don’t stare quite as […]

  22. […] Middle Eastern Mannequins: A Secret, Surreal World […]

  23. Maria
    October 13, 2011 | 4:06 pm

    #s 4 and 7 are odd. Fun post!
    Maria recently posted..Farming the WindMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      October 13, 2011 | 8:09 pm

      Thanks, Maria. Yeah, they’re odd, aren’t they? I shot the photos before I had this blog, by the way. And when I did, I thought–I really need to start a blog so that I can share these crazy shots!

  24. Becky
    October 25, 2011 | 4:51 am

    oh god creepy! I hate mannequins…

    • CB Driver
      October 25, 2011 | 8:07 am

      Yeah, they are–LOL. PS: I have another post like this from Ecuador coming soon. Those mannequins resemble aliens. Weirder yet and for different reasons!

      • Becky
        October 25, 2011 | 8:50 am

        Ooh I look forward to seeing those! haha *morbid fascination*

        • CB Driver
          October 26, 2011 | 12:01 am

          Cool. I hope to post in in a few weeks!

  25. Alan Horton
    December 13, 2011 | 8:06 pm

    Another interesting post, thanks very much.

    I actually quite like them, I don’t know why, I must think about that?

    • CB Driver
      December 14, 2011 | 8:13 am

      Soon, there will be another chance to see just how much you like them by visiting their peculiar cousins over in Ecuador. There, I saw some that looked like aliens!

  26. […] the Middle Eastern Mannequins I wrote about a while back? They’re still around. I’d love to know which mannequins you […]

  27. […] you thought that unusual mannequins were found mostly in the Middle East. Well, think again. The aliens have invaded South America, […]

  28. […] because of my ongoing mannequin obsession. To see more quirky mannequins, check out these posts: The Surreal World of Middle Eastern Mannequins and Manic Mannequins of […]

  29. […] Middle Eastern Mannequins: A Secret and Surreal World […]

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