Turkish Karagöz Shadow Puppets
Turkish Karagöz Shadow Puppets

Turkish Karagöz Shadow Puppets


Meta B. Hunt Collection






Pictured are Turkish shadow puppets known as Karagöz (“black eye” in Turkish). These flat and two-dimensional figures are brought to life in puppet shows using light, color, and shadow.  The puppet figures are traditionally made from camel or water buffalo hide, sometimes cow or donkey depending on what is available to the artist.The hides are dried and then smoothed and worked until the skin becomes translucent. A puppet pattern is drawn separately, then traced onto the hide. A special knife, a nevregan, is used to cut out the image and then the figures are painted with natural pigments made from plant roots and Indian ink. The pieces are then embroidered and tied together with a sturdy thread made from animal gut. A hole is made in the upper body, usually the neck, to insert a control rod. Originally, Karagöz Puppet shows were performed in palaces, private residences, coffeehouses, parks and gardens throughout Istanbul and around Turkey. Karagöz was usually performed during feasts, festivals, circumcisions, special celebrations, and Ramadan. In the last century, Karagöz has been performed in public theaters, cultural centers and schools across Turkey. 

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