July 1, 2015

1708 TURKEY (Marmara Region) - Karagöz and Hacivat (UNESCO ICH)


Bursa was the first capital of the Ottoman Empire, between 1335 and 1363, and for that reason represents one of the richest legacies of the early Ottoman art and architecture. On the other hand, the city is famous for its Iskender Kebap, one of the best dishes of world, for the candied chestnuts (Kestane Sekeri), and for its unique peaches. As for something to purchase, Bursa is a center of the silk trade (since first silk cocoons were brought here with the caravans of the Silk Road) and towel manufacturing. It is also the homeland of the very famous Turkish folklore figures, Karagöz and Hacivat shadow puppets.

Karagöz is a form of shadow theatre popularized during the Ottoman period and then spread to most nation states that comprised the Ottoman Empire, most prominently in Turkey and Greece, in which figures known as tasvirs made of camel or ox hide in the shape of people or things are held on rods in front of a light source to cast their shadows onto a cotton screen. A play begins with the projection of an introductory figure to set the scene and suggest the themes of the drama, before it vanishes to the shrill sound of a whistle, giving way to a main performance that may incorporate singing, tambourine music, poetry, myth, tongue-twisters and riddles. 

The usually comic stories feature the main characters Karagöz (meaning blackeye in Turkish) and Hacivat (shortened in time from Hacı İvaz meaning "İvaz the Pilgrim"). In the Turkish version Karagöz represents the illiterate but straightforward public, whereas Hacivat belongs to the educated class, speaking Ottoman Turkish and using a poetical and literary language. Other characters in these plays are the drunkard Tuzsuz Deli Bekir with his wine bottle, the long-necked Uzun Efe, the opium addict Kanbur Tiryaki with his pipe, Altı Kariş Beberuhi (an eccentric dwarf), the half-wit Denyo, the spendthrift Civan, and Nigâr, a flirtatious woman.

There may also be dancers and djinns, and various portrayals of non-Turks: an Arab who knows no Turkish (typically a beggar or sweet-seller), a black servant woman, a Circassian servant girl, an Albanian security guard, a Greek (usually a doctor), an Armenian (usually a footman or money-changer), a Jew (usually a goldsmith or scrap-dealer), a Laz (usually a boatman), or an Iranian (who recites poetry with an Azeri accent). The puppets are manipulated by one lead artist, the Hayali, who may have one or more apprentice-assistants. Once played widely at coffeehouses, gardens, and public squares, especially during the holy month of Ramazan, as well as during circumcision feasts, Karagöz is found today mostly in performance halls, schools and malls in larger cities where it still draws audiences.

About the stamp

The stamp was issued to celebrate the 60th Anniversary Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

Karagöz and Hacivat - Wikipedia
Karagöz - UNESCO official site

Sender: Filiz Yüzbaş (direct swap)
Sent from Girne (North Cyprus), on 25.02.2013

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