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Contents / Karagöz & Hacivat

For four centuries the Turkish shadow play was the newspaper, television, cinema and theatre of the Turkish people.

The Karagöz shadow play, which reflects Ottoman culture and society, was introduced to Turkey from Memluk Egypt following the conquest by Sultan Selim I in 1517. Six hundred Memluk artists and craftsmen accompanied Selim back to Istanbul, among them Memluk shadow play performers. Although other types of puppets had long been known in Turkey, the new shadow puppets quickly came to the forefront as they captured the popular imagination. In the 17th century the shadow play technique was developed by Turkish puppeteers, and the main character known as Karagöz or Black Eye came into being. Soon the play itself was called after this earthy and humorous character. Other characters representing the colourful array of social and ethnic types in Istanbul were gradually added. The Karagöz shadow play spread from Istanbul to other regions of the empire, and was reintroduced into its original home of

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