This puppet was made in the 1960s by the Greek puppeteer and popular artist Abraam (Antonakos) in his Athens workshop, and used in performances in Greece during the 1960s. This and most of the puppets in the collection were brought to Australia by Abraam Antonakas for his performances at the Astor Theatre in Melbourne in 1977. He then left the collection with Dimitri Katsoulis who used them in all his subsequent performances in Victoria and in South Australia from 1978 to 1991. Dimitri Katsoulis migrated to Australia in 1974 to escape a regime that repressed Greek artists. He had trained in Greece with theatre and film companies as an actor and technician. A master of the traditional Greek shadow puppet theatre, his performances explored contemporary issues such as the isolation of migrant women and children. Unable to obtain funding and support, he returned to Greece in 1991, leaving his entire collection to the people of Victoria. It includes 32 shadow puppets and around 170 props, set backdrops and technical tools and stage equipment. Dimitri has since returned to Melbourne and assists the Museum to continue to document this rich art form within both local and international contexts.

Selim is a character in the centuries-old Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre (Karaghiozis) tradition. He is a typical military personality, polite and strict in maintaining civil order, and women find him attractive. He is Aid-de-camp to the Vizier (the Veziris - originally a Persian term for a high-ranking political, and sometimes religious, advisor or minister, often to a Muslim monarch such as a Sultan) or the Pasha [a state ranking political advisor]. Selim appears in comedies and heroic dramas, in performances where the Pasha [a state ranking political advisor] appears. In the comedy 'Karaghiozis the Doctor', the Vizier's (the Veziris') daughter has lost her voice and appears to be at death's door. After failed attempts to find a doctor to cure her, the Vizier (the Veziris) asks the Pasha to find him a doctor. On Hatziavati's [another character in Greek shadow Puppet Theatre] suggestion he goes to Karaghiozis' shack to take him to Sarai to cure his daughter. Karaghiozis denies being a doctor, receives a beating and finally admits to being a doctor to escape further beatings. Karaghiozis goes to Sarai, examines the girl, and then realises that something else is going on when he tricks Sarai into confessing the truth - that she is in love with Selim, of whom her father disapproves. Karaghiozis then decides to intervene by creating a ruse to trick the Vizier (the Veziris). He tells him that in his professional opinion, the only way that his daughter can be cured is for her to marry Selim. The Vizier (the Veziris) accepts this and agrees to the marriage.

The puppet is manipulated by a puppet rod [there are many examples in the collection] mounted at the top of its shoulder.

Information supplied by Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre master Dimitri Katsoulis, 2007.

Physical Description

An acrylic figure of a man, jointed at the waist . He wears a red, white and yellow turban and a green military uniform, trimmed with gold braid and pink cuffs. He has a gold dagger tucked into one boot and carries a curved sword in a scabbard tucked under one arm.


This collection of puppets, props, stage sets, and technical tools and equipment relating to traditional Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre is unique in Australia and rare in international public collections. The history of Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre, its puppet characters and the methodology of its performance has been recorded in partnership with the puppet master to whom the collection belonged. The collection is highly significant both as documentation of an important cross-cultural, centuries-old art form, and as an example of the transnational migration of cultural activity between Greece and Australia. It is a collection which was created and performed in Greece and Australia from the mid to late twentieth century, by two puppet masters, who transported the tradition between two countries. Abraam Antonakos came to Australia in 1977 to perform the puppet theatre and then deposited the puppets with Dimitri Katsoulis, who had migrated to Australia in 1974. Dimitri's story becomes one of migration experience, cultural maintenance and adaptation, and finally return migration and the discontinuance of this cultural art form in Australia.

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