The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Tuesday, December 11, 2018


UN listing gives lifeline to Syria's last shadow puppeteer
Syrian last shadow puppeteer Shadi al-Hallaq holds his puppets Karakoz (L) and Eiwaz (R) before a presentation in Damascus on December 3, 2018. Syrians last week received news that their war-battered country's shadow theatre has secured a coveted place on the UN's list of world treasures. LOUAI BESHARA / AFP.

by Maher al-Mounes


DAMASCUS (AFP).- In a crowded dark room, Syria's last shadow puppeteer crouches on stage, holding two intricate figures against a brightly lit silk screen and voicing their animated chatter.

Hiding inside his booth and moving the silhouettes around on sticks, Shadi al-Hallaq gave a proud performance on Monday night after his disappearing art finally received international recognition.

Syrians last week received news that their war-battered country's shadow theatre has secured a coveted place on the UN's list of world treasures.

"When they rang to congratulate me, it was like a day dream," said the puppeteer, a slim 43-year-old wearing a dark grey suit and warm beige scarf.

His two star characters -- the naive but charming Karakoz and clever friend Eiwaz -- would finally receive the limelight they deserved, he said.

"There's no one in Syria who masters the art except me," said Hallaq, who learned it from his late father, a famed storyteller who performed in one of the capital's oldest coffee shops.

"There are no regular shows anymore, though I have given performances in a few places over the past years," said the puppeteer, who previously worked as a taxi driver.

The advent of digital entertainment as well as mass displacement due to conflict have contributed to the gradual decline of the art in Syria, the United Nations says.

Only a few such performers existed in the country before the war broke out in 2011, and a leading shadow puppeteer has since gone missing.

Traditionally, shadow plays were held in coffee shops.

A bright light would project the silhouettes of the puppets onto a silk screen, usually accompanied by dialogue and music.

Often including humorous social commentary, they would star Karakoz and Eiwaz, as well as female characters and talking animals.

Hallaq's characters are crafted from cow leather, their clothes cut out with decorative patterns and painted with watercolours "so the light can shine through".

Karakoz is short and dons a large red hat, while Eiwaz sports an elegant moustache.

As they move around before an arched alleyway, their witty banter entertains all generations.

"My audience are old and young -- from three years old to old men in coffee shops," Hallaq said.

The art form is said to be centuries old, long before the war that has killed 360,000 people and displaced millions from their homes.

Some say Karakoz and Eiwaz are typical Syrians from Damascus, while others say they are in fact originally Turkish.

Since the United Nations cultural agency UNESCO classified his art as "in need of urgent safeguarding", Hallaq said things are looking up for his art and its two stars.

"I thought I would have to bury them" away, he said. But now "a bright future awaits them in Syria. I will tour with them all over the country."


© Agence France-Presse





Today's News

December 6, 2018

900-year-old gold coins found in the Israeli Mediterranean town of Caesarea

Scottish iPhone filmmaker wins Turner Prize

Albert Einstein's God Letter sells for $2.9 million

Rare masterpiece by Rembrandt sells for £9.5 million to lead Sotheby's Old Master Evening sale

Tate Britain's series of annual commissions to mark the winter season features work by Monster Chetwynd

Pinakothek in Munich opens 'Stories in Pictures: Edward von Steinle and Leopold Bode'

Sinatra memorabilia, jewelry on sale in New York

UN listing gives lifeline to Syria's last shadow puppeteer

Pace Gallery expands representation of Mary Corse to New York, with first exhibition in 2020

Exhibition of new painting and sculpture by Darren Almond opens at White Cube

Art Basel in Miami Beach: UBS announces plans for monumental Sarah Morris wall painting at NYC headquarters

Nobel Prize for Physics awarded to Manne Siegbahn among items in Science & Technology Auction

Second Sotheby's prize awarded to help fund exhibition on the history of Black cinema

Sinatra and Rockefeller jewels shine in Sotheby's $46.4 million Magnificent Jewels sale in New York

Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac presents an installation devoted to John Cage's Ryoanji series

mumok opens the first large-scale retrospective of the work of Austrian artist Ernst Caramelle

Berlin-based artist Nevin Aladağ opens exhibition at kestnergesellschaft

Exhibition of photographs from the Lazare Collection opens at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Rare models power Jasper52 European Collector Car auction Dec. 10

British studio pottery found in the US hits the auction block at Freeman's in Philadelphia

MOCA presents "AfriCOBRA: Messages to The People" during Miami Art Week 2018

PULSE Miami Beach 2018 highlights

Stephen Friedman Gallery announces worldwide representation of Denzil Forrester

Christie's appoints Antoine Lebouteiller as Head of the Impressionist and Modern art department

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- The Morgan receives a major Renoir drawing unseen for over 50 years

2.- Recording console built by Elvis Costello and used to record Stairway to Heaven stars at Bonhams sale

3.- On December 9, estate jewelry & more goes up for bid at Turner Auctions + Appraisals

4.- French museum chief hits back at call to return African art

5.- David Castillo Gallery to present works by a stellar group of artists at Art Basel Miami Beach

6.- Ancient Chinese painting auctioned for almost $60 million at Christie's Hong Kong

7.- Exploring the watery remains of France's sunken Roman port of Olbia

8.- Exhibition examines eroticism in paintings and drawings of the male and female nude

9.- Thieves nab Pierre-Auguste Renoir painting from Vienna auction house

10.- Israeli archaeologists unveil rare stone mask dating to the Neolithic



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez


Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org avemariasound.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful