Museum’s Halls

<Museum’s Halls>


From the time of Mimaros up to 1916 Karagiozis’ shadow was made of sheet metal or thick tin. The legs and waist were secured with string. The other figures were made of cardboard. From 1923, everyone used some figures made of young calf’s leather because was the best and the most white. Some shadow players used to make their puppets out of celluloid. But they proved useless and would fall to pieces after a short time.

After 1953 until today most of the puppeteers are making their figures of plastic but the original puppets of Karagiozis’ Greek art are those who are made of cardboard because it gives the best effect on the screen by showing the very smallest details

As concerns the mechanism which makes possible for the figure to change direction instantly (face-out), in 1924, Lefteris Kelarinopoulos, a shadow player, devised the hinges.

Up to then all the puppets were nailed firmly to a piece of wood about two feet long, so, they had to be nailed carefully on the right site depending on which direction each figure must be appeared on the screen. On the contrary, with the hinge, the figure can be made to turn and change direction easily. At first, the hinge was made of thick tin – can and nailed on a piece of wood. Later, it was made of thick sheet-metal and it was fixed on a thin round piece of iron, with a special stopping device, so that the figure could be made to stand attached to its corner. To this was added a wooden handle for the shadow player to grasp. Then some small screws were
discovered, taken from the old bicycles.


The Karagiozis’ stage ranges from some 15 to 25 feet in width and is about ten feet deep. Behind the shadow player there are one or two shelves where he keeps his figures to be used in the show. The cloth of the screen has to be well stretched, so as to allow the smallest detail of the figures to show through.

Up to 1908 the Karagiozis screen was lighted with oil – burning lamps. Later, gas or acetylene was used. From 1918 the puppeteers used electricity. The lamps are placed on a lamp-board behind the screen, a shelf of the same length as the screen.

The puppeteer usually knows the performances by heart but two different performances of the same play may containdifferent words but the meaning is the same.

The performance is based on improvised jokes and that depends on the kind
and the age of the audience.

He does the whole performance himself including all the voices of the characters.

Of course he has his assistant or assistants to hand him whatever he needs and to make the various noises: they clap their hands for the sound of a slap that Karagiozis delivers, they bash an oil tin when Karagiozis hits somebody with the watering can,
they make the noise of thunder with a thin sheet of tin and fire off gunshots in the battle. Once, the singer was the indispensable partner of a shadow player and a good player knew that without a singer his performance was bound to be disjointed.
He had his organists too. The audience was expecting not only to see the play but to hear the songs as well. But after 1932, some Karagiozis puppeteers replaced the singer with a gramophone, to save money. Later, the technology went on and after the gramophone the shadow players began to use the tape recorder and now days the younger generation of puppeteers are using their own cd players.