Thursday, March 13, 2014

Cultural Icons of Turkey: Shadow Play of Karagöz and Hacivat


Karagöz and Hacivat Shadow Theatre is a Turkish Storytelling Tradition. The two main characters are Karagöz and Hacivat. Karagoz is a peasant, reperesentative of the people, who normally wins the day with his boorish wit, outsmarting his more urbane sidekick Hacivat. Karagöz can be lewd, deceitful and even violent whilst Hacivat, by contrast, is an educated gentlemen, more refined in his manner, who resolutely tries to instil a sense of decorum into the proceedings. 



Karagöz-Hacivat plays are especially associated with Ramadan. Until the rise of radio and film, it was one of the most popular forms of entertainment in Turkey. It survives today mainly in a toned-down form intended for audiences of children.


Karagöz plays are structured in four parts:
  • Mukaddime: Introduction. Hacivat sings a semai (different at each performance), recites a prayer, and indicates that he is looking for his friend Karagöz, whom he beckons to the scene with a speech that always ends "Yar bana bir eğlence" ("Oh, for some amusement"). Karagöz enters from the opposite side.
  • Muhavere: dialogue between Karagöz and Hacivat
  • Fasil: main plot
  • Bitiş: Conclusion, always a short argument between Karagöz and Hacivat, always ending with Hacivat yelling at Karagöz that he has "ruined" whatever matter was at hand and has "brought the curtain down," and Karagöz replying "May my transgressions be forgiven."




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