Friday, October 25, 2013

Unusual Artifacts: A Bottle Opener Depicting Karagoz, Punch's Turkish Cousin

The Victoria & Albert Museum

Mr. Punch has many cousins throughout the world.  His Turkish counterpart is known as Karagoz.  Unlike Mr. Punch, however, Karagoz is not primarily presented as a glove puppet, he is always performed as a shadow puppet, a flat, joined figure manipulated by rods from behind a screen.  It's this method of performing which lends Karagoz his name which literally translates to "Black-Eye."  The figures were always designed so that the pupil of Karagoz's eye appeared as a black circle.  This outgoing, amorous and sometimes violet and obscene character sports a thick, curly beard and a bald head.  So, I guess he's a puppet hipster.

Karagoz's nemesis is called Hacivat who is somehow always wiser and more sophisticated than Karagoz.  He is usually represented with a neat beard and a tall pointed hat. The female characters included Karagoz and Hacivat’s wives.  A wealth of other characters added humor and complications to these farcical shows which were usually improvised.

This brass bottle opened of unknown origin and creation date represents Karagoz.  It was likely made in Turkey.

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