Kaohsiung Museum of shadow puppet
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Features of Shadow Puppets Flash



Turkish puppet theater is mainly shadow puppet theater. There are many different versions on how Turkish shadow puppets started. Some believe they came to Ottoman Turkey from China by way of India. Later the Mongolians took shadow puppet theater to Central Asia where it spread to Turkey. Another version has it that in the 16th Century, shadow puppets came to Turkey from Egypt. In 1517, turkey conquered Egypt and the conqueror, Yavuz Sultan Selim, discovered how beautiful shadow puppet theater is. He brought the art to Istanbul where his son also shared his father’s liking for this exotic leisure. This explains why shadow puppet theater developed in the palaces.

Later, puppeteers absorbed Egyptian puppet colors, changed its styles for convenience in manipulation and adopted stories based on historical Turkish personalities like Karagoz and Hacivat to develop a new folk style in shadow puppets and their scripts. This reformist, named Seyh Kusteri, used camel skin to carve puppets of Karagoz and other personages and soon started shadow puppet performances. The name Karagoz means “black eyes,” a jobless illiterate ordinary man who spoke with coarse language. He often tried to pull a trick on people for money but always failed.
Greece Karagoz (left and Haciva)
From these puppets of Karagoz and Hacivat, we see how bright the colors are, although they still retained the three major colors red, black and green. Yet, they differ from Southeast Asian puppets in that they are not designed to be of one piece. This Karagoz puppet consists of six pieces of cowhide: head and chest, lower torso, two pieces of right hand, one each of the two legs. Haciva’s puppet is made up of four pieces. Karagoz’s right hand has a larger stronger right hand, and that’s because he loved to get embroiled in fistfights. Karagoz’s right hand and chest have two holes and they tell us that Turkish shadow puppets have two handles. Its stage is similar to Taiwan’s, with the puppeteers standing during performance. There is no banana trunk and the handles are not sharpened in one end.

It’s not surprising that shadow puppets also appeared in Greece. That’s because the Ottoman Empire also conquered Greece.
No. 42, Gangshan S. Rd.,Gangshan District,
Kaohsiung City 82060, Taiwan(Museum Hours)
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