Artistic Handcraft - Karakoz and Iewaz Puppets

Origin and time: Palestine, Syria, Jordan; end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century
Museum of Jordan Folklore and Jewelry
Inv. No. 77,019

The two-dimensional figure depicts the jester Karakoz riding on a horse, whose legs are bound in iron chains. The rider holds a bow in one hand and a huge sword in the other and carries a bag with arrows on his back. The main colours used are black, white, red and brown. 

Karakoz and Iewaz puppets like this one were commonly used at plays in shadow theatres in great cities such as Aleppo, Damascus and Jerusalem. Though it is unclear what earlier karakoz figures looked like, as the oldest puppets preserved are not older than hundred years, Ottoman miniatures dating back to the 16th century depict jesters and grotesque dancers resembling preserved karakoz figures in their costumes and headgears.

Shadow theatre performances with these puppets combine many parts of Ottoman culture such as poetry, miniature, painting, music, folk customs, and oral tradition.