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Hacivat Karagoz

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Hacivat Karagoz
Hacivat Karagoz
Hacivat Karagoz


What: Tradition
Where: Turkey, Istanbul

Karagoz and Hacivat is a traditional Turkish shadow muppet theatre performance taking its name from the main character Karagoz (Blackeyed). According to 17th century Turkish traveller Evliya Celebi, the play was first performed at the palace in the 14th century.
The shadow muppet theatre was a common from of entertainment during the Middle Ages and was widely performed in public and in private homes between the 17th and 19th century.
The puppets are 35 to 40 centimeters tall, made of camel or cow skin, dyed and semi-transparent. The light from a lamp behind the stage reflects their images onto the muslin screen, which is encircled by a chain of flowers. The puppeteer, known as Hayali (imaginary), is assisted by an apprentice, who raises and drops the curtain and hands over the puppets in their order of appearance.
The main characters in the play are Karagoz and Hacivat. Karagoz is an ordinary person. Hacivat has studied in a Moslem theological school and uses poetical and literary language.
The plots of the plays are always humorous. Double meanings, exaggerations, play on words, imitation of dialects are all part of the comedy. These funny plays sometimes dared to aim their satire and irony at the state administrations itself. There is always a fight at some point in the play.
The play always ends with an argument between Karagoz and Hacivat. At the end the two apologize to each other with the words “May our misbehaviour be forgiven!” - for the errors or insults the play may have contained. The start of the next performance was then announced.


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