Tag Archives: Karagoz characters

Characters In Karagoz

The Stock Characters In Karagoz (2)

Tuzsuz Deli bekir

Drunkard and Braggart: He always uses slang and Karagoz can not understand him. He occasionally threatens Karagoz but when the latter becomes angry, the drunkard shows his cowardice and runs away. He blusters in everywhere with his armoury of weapons and lays down the law, as he sees it. His threats are by word rather than by action. He is tipsy, loquacious and moves like a drunkard. Matiz is another name for him. However he is quite often harmless in sprite of his appearance and loud voice, yet a sharp streak of sadism is nevertheless apparent. He is always ready to sing. He is a braggart and always interferes when there is any kind of immoral situation. Authority is represented by this character, sometimes as a kind of gendarme, and at others a deus ex machine who administers justice. He does not always uphold the law as he is in league with some of the immoral woman of the neighbourhood. He is extremely proud of having murdered several people himself, including his own children and family. He has unique methods for killing. He is fond of relating the details of these murders and the locals are so frightened of him that they obey all his orders without question. One of his jokes is to pretend to cut off Karagoz head. When Karagoz tries to avoid having his head cut off, Matiz reproaches him saying: -Would you begrudge such a rotten and worthless head?-. It is certain that there were many different types of drunkard throughout the ages. Swaggering Tuzsuz Deli Bekir who blusters and threatens, carrying a wicked-looking sword and spreading terror in his wake is another. He comes in towards the end of the pieces and makes short work of Karagoz and others. Another kind is the rowdy Kulhanbeyi. His jacket is slung over one shoulder and his walk is lop sides. Around his fez there is a silk scarf, his trousers are hemmed on the lower part; his shoes are low at the back, with egg shaped heels, and he has a silk shawl wrapped down his middle which he tucks in at the waist. He also wears a blue silk shirt, the collar of which is unbuttoned and the sleeves of which are twisted. He holds prayer beads and walks in a unique way. Sometimes instead of being a braggart, he is a swashbuckling character from the Western coast of Turkey where he is known as Efe or Zeybek. He does not act like a drunkard but his appearance makes people obey him. He wears an embroidered jacket which is so short that it barely reaches his elbows. His white cotton salvar, except for their extravagant width, might be a pair of bathing drawers. He has leggings of sheep’s wool but his legs, from the middle of the thigh to his socks, are bare. His fez, which is at least eighteen inches high, is wound with a gaily coloured kerchief, fringed and tasselled. Strapped in front of his waist shawl is a capacious leather pocket containing his scimitar, pistols and tobacco. Slung across his back is his long gun. He tries to restore discipline in the neighbourhood all by himself and is usually a man of good intentions. This completes the descriptions of locals of the neighbourhood.

Baba himmet

As the Ottoman Empire consisted of several ethnics groups, its society was rather complex. Most outsiders came to Istanbul to find work or to practice their special trades and crafts. There as a resemblance among the central Anatolian types.

Turk or Baba Himmet, for example, is the invincible wood cutter from Anatolia, a tell man (the tallest of the shadow figures, as we have already mentioned), carrying a large axe on his shoulder. Karagoz sometimes tries to get him to hear by speaking the words into his cupped hands and throwing them up to his ear. This method failing, a ladder is brought and Karagoz climbs up it to shout in Baba Himmet’s ear. -Turk- speaks in a rough way and fails to understand many of the things he sees in town. He often uses blasphemy to answer Karagoz but does not become angry when Karagoz teases him about his rough language or calls him a bear. He has a good heart and always thinks and talks about his sweetheart in his own village. Those from Kayseri and Bolu are similar to Turk but are better acquainted with Istanbul life. The man from Kayseri is a seller of salted meat called pastirma, a grocer, painter or shoemaker, and the other from Bolu is invariably a cook. Contrary to Turk, they are extremely cunning but to not know much about town etiquette. The one from Kayseri wears a rad salvar, and a high fez with a white riband. Over his shoulder, a short red jacket is worn, on his waist is a belt in which he carries weapons. The man from Egin in usually s butcher with red, full plaited knee-breeches and a belt in which he sports a gun. He wears a short red jacket.


Laz, who comes from the Black sea coast, is either a boatman, a wool beater or a tinsmith. He has a strong Black Sea coast accent. He is very talkative and also speaks quickly. He takes approximately fifteen minutes just to say -hello- and is always very jittery. As he usually so busy talking himself, he can not listen to what other people say. He has a habit of becoming angry in a very short time. Karagoz often has to forcibly close Laz’s mouth in order to get a word in himself. His clothes include a yellow vest lined with linen, pantaloons, pleated and creased at the back which reaching to the knees and are called zipka. On his head he wears a hood (sargi). He often dances on the stage a Black Sea dance called horon, which is characterized by alert, tense shivering movements, the trembling of the entire body from head to foot, sudden sharp kneeling and springing up at the rebound. This fits in which the basic traits of his character.

Rumelili or Muhacir is the immigrant from the Balkans. He speaks very slowly and is either a wrestler or carter. He often speaks about his village and the fact that he is a wrestler. He is very proud of his wrestling abilities but actually he usually loses his bouts. He always tries to look intelligent and cautious. He is boastful his supposed success as a wrestler.

Kurd, is the neighbourhood night watchman and often uses Kurdish words. He has a vacant expression but tries to act in a haughty manner. He wears a conical felt cap, and carries a long staff. He wears sandals of raw hide, blue salvar, a half coat without sleeves and a woollen, motley west.

Acem or Persian is a trader in shawls, carpets and woman,s dresses. Either that or he is a money lender. He sometimes enters riding a horse and continually recites poetry which he delivers with emphatic enunciation. He often exaggerates and talks of large sums of money but his actual business transactions usually concern very small sums. He becomes irritable and haughty when Karagoz plays little jokes on him. Hacivat, however, flatters him by calling him -The Rose of Iran-. He is also a connoisseur of poetry. He wears trousers over a kind of vest lined with linen which reaches to the knees, called entari and held up by a white belt. He has a white shirt, a high black lambskin hat, a blue or black robe open in the front with sleeves scarcely reaching to the elbow called cubbe. He is usually from Azerbaijan, the Turk section of Persia.

Arab is a merchant or traveller who wears a shawl on his head, red linen salvar and sandals with straps. He often has a funny name. He is sometimes a beggar, a sweet seller or a coffee grinder. He has a habit of praying whenever he has to pay money and sometimes when he receives money he pretends to pray for the giver but actually curses him. He is very stupid and can not grasps things easily. His conversation consists merely of repetitious question such as Who?, Whom?, When?, Where? Or What?, which he continually repeats, speaking in either the Egyptian or the Damascus dialect. Another type of arab is the negro, -Arab- also meaning ‘negro’ in Turkish. He is shown as a caricature of a eunuch both in dialect and stupidity.


Albanian (Arnavut) either sells a drink made of fermented millet called boza, or he is a gardener, a game keep or a cattle trader. He tries to speak politely but, because of his accent, always creates a humorous impression. He is ignorant and continually sings to himself a song mainly about vegetables. He is also a rogue. When he gets angry, he has a habit of referring to his pistol in an off hand way as though murder were a mere detail. He wears white breeches, baggy at the hips and gathered at the ankles. On his head is a white skull cap. Gaily colored and voluminous towels are swathed around the waist, completing his ensemble is a wide linen skirt and a red vest.

Greek or Frenk, is portrayed as European or Levantine, a la franc, being usually by profession a physician. He enters dancing a polka and interpolating Greek or French words in his speech. He speaks the worst Turkish of all the Empire types. He can also be a tailor, a merchant or a tavern keeper. In spite of his broken Turkish, he is somewhat flippant and tries to make puns in Turkish. He is a coward and an unlikeable character. He wears a European costume and carries a hat and a cane.

Armenian is usually the major of a large house hold. He has no sense of humour, a limited intelligence and is very serious about his work. Called ayvaz, he can also appear as a waiter or butler. His garb includes black salvar, a black jacket with short sleeves, a red girdle, a red pointed hat or fez and a red apron. Another type of Armenian is a jeweller or fancy draper. Contrary to the first type, he is more refined and appreciates the finger things in life. He plays a Turkish lute but is not successful enough to be able to afford the luxuries of this life. Karagoz always teases him. Alternative clothing could be a long black gown, a fez, trousers and an umbrella with a broken handle.

Jew (Cud, Yahudi or cifit), the haggling Jew is a familiar character and is either seen as a money lender, a second hand dealer or a peddler. He tries out many obscene puns on Karagoz and, using his ungrammatical, broken Turkish as an excuse, he maliciously changes Karagoz,s name to give it a bad meaning and a result, Karagoz becomes angry and wants to beat him. He is a malicious and vulgar type. He wears black salvar, a loose linen robe open in the front called cubbe, and a keveza, a black hat with a blue turban. There is a sack on his back. When Karagoz pretends to go at him, or even only to suggest that he intends to do so, the Jew begins to shout and scream as though he were actually being severally hurt. When Karagoz makes the motion of tickling him, even while till at a distance, the Jew begins to laugh. While he is complaining in a loud voice he nevertheless always finds time to revile Karagoz. He is a miser and haggler. Even after he agrees on a price, he complains that it is too high and he can not pay. He is also a coward and when all the other characters in the neighbourhood decide to attack the drunkard, the Jew does not join them but runs away.

These are basic figures and stock characters. On the other hand, each play requires because of the exigency of the plot several additional characters. Here are some to serve as illustrations. The Jew,s child, an old Jew, Jews carrying a coffin, a Jewish rabbi, the conjurer Jew, a malicious witch-like old gypsy woman called Bok ana, a midwife, a gypsy, a tartar, a negro who plays a string instrument, coffee grinders, dancing boys, dancing girls, a furnace operator (is an Armenian), a priest, a servant in the public bath, the chief of the dancers company, a stammerer, a conjurer,s assistant, musicians, a baby in a cradle, Hacivat’s three brothers, the villain, a himhim (snuffler), a sly insane man, minstrels, a magician, witches, the drunkard’s wife, a rope dancer, woman sent to inspect a prospective bride, a pregnant bride, a circadian slave, Hacivat’s and Karagoz,s sons, and daughters, the Laz,s son, Tahir, Tahir,s father, Zuhre’s father, the Persian servant, and a hermaphrodite are among other innumerable character who appear each having different degrees of importance.

*Traditional Turkish Shadow Theatre, By Metin And