Karagoz and Hacivat

Discover Turkey and preserve Karagoz tradition

Turkish Shadow Theatre

Karagoz is a shadow play performed on a white curtain with a backlight reflecting figures of humans, animals and objects called tasvir made from camel or water buffalo hide and attached to rods.


Karagoz is a shadow theatre created and played by Turks with their own art and aesthetic understanding. It is a part of Turkish culture and the intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

Containing different branches of art within itself, Karagoz has a privileged place in the traditional Turkish theatre. For centuries different faces, dialects and lives were brought together by Karagoz which put in a dialogue with their authentic identities on the same stage. Beyond fiction, Karagoz is often a reality show just like life itself. Karagoz with its humorous culture and the elements it created is still alive today and among different life settings it makes us ponder about ourselves.

Karagoz, as a stage show where dreams and reality interwine continue to reflect the universality and the immortality of art in the most beautiful way.

Your kids will love this hilarious shadow play.

Main Characters

Similar to Laurel and Hardy, Karagoz and Hacivat symbolize the dualities of life. On one hand, you have the educated, poetic and level headed Hacivat. On the other, the illiterate, witty and impulsive Karagoz. The stories usually feature the main characters Karagoz and Hacivat, and a host of others, including a cabaret chanteuse called Kantocu and an illusionist acrobat named Hokkabaz. What happens when all these characters meet? The result is a Turkish form of satire.

Shadow Play

The puppets are manipulated by one leading artist, the Hayali, who may have one or more apprentice assistants who are learning the craft by helping to create the tasvirs and accompanying the action with music. The shadow play begins with the projection of an introductory figure to set the scene, and continues with the main performance that includes singing, tambourine music, poetry, myth, tongue twisters and riddles.

UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

Karagoz was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009.

UNESCO Identity Card:

  • Official Name: Karagoz
  • Criteria: Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
  • Date of Inscription: 2009
Turkish Shadow Theatre
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