- Museum number
Shadow puppet: Karagiosis, with bright green jacket and trousers and red waistband. Made of hide, painted all over with joints at waist, legs, and on long arm which has five joints. The arm is attched with ribbon. Signed 'E. Spatharis' in Greek on left leg. The hide has become distorted and curved.
- Production date
- 1950-1978 (circa)
Height: 46 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- For information on Spataris, see Sotiris Spatharis, 'Behind the White Screen, Sotiris Spatharis', New York 1976. See also Emily Tsarouchis Herdman, 'Karagiosis: Theatre of the Greek People', in The Puppet Master, Autumn 2006, pp. 22-24.
Son of Sotiris Spatharis (1898-1974), one of the great puppeteers of the interwar years, Eugenios trained with his father and has become one of the most famous performers of Greek Shadow Theatre, 'Karaghiosopectes', of the present day. With competition from cinema and television, Spatharis survived by developing televised broadcasts of Karagiosis performances from 1966-92. His collection forms the Spathario Museum in Athens.
The technique of making the puppets from hide is described by Sotiris Spatharis:
'The best leather for this purpose is young calf. And it must be white. In his workshop, thecraftsman will soak it and stretch it on a wooden frame. In a few days it will be dry and ready to be cut by the Karagiosis performer into the shape of his various characters. When thw figure has been cut out, he then scrapes the leather with a piece of glass till it becomes transparent. If the leather is thick, this scraping process can take all day. Then he puts the leather figure over the paper pattern and fills in the details. With Indian ink he sketches in the fez, the waistcoat, the kerchief, the sword etc. Then he puts the pieces of the figure together; some are of two pieces, others four or even more.
Most Karagiosis performwers sue elswtgher only forthe chracters who appear in eeveyr performance . . . the other charcters are made of cardboard - which gives the best effect on screen by showing the very smallest details.
Some Karagiosis performers used to make theuir figures out of celluloid. But they proved useless and would fall to pieces after a short time. The leather figres, on the other hand, provided they were carfeully looked after (especially by keeping them away from the stage lights which warped them and made them uselss) could last for many years. All they need to keep them looking new is a touch of new paint every two years. My son still uses the same Karagiosis puppet I used for 36 years.' (S. Spatharis, 'Behind the White Screen, Sotiris Spatharis', New York 1976, pp. 135-6).
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number