Alternative Name(s): Puppet - Nionios

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.

Sior Dionisios is a character in the centuries-old Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre (Karaghiozis) tradition. He is a fallen descendant of a noble family from Zakinthos. He is a lover of beauty, shy, falls in love easily, is naïve and brags about his lineage. He enters the stage playing the guitar and singing. He is used in comedies. In the play 'Karaghiozis the Brave' old man Stavridis (another puppet character) doesn't want him to become his son-in-law because he considers him to be a gold-digger. He engages Karaghiozis to intercept whenever he tries to meet his daughter Eleni and make him go away. In one scene of the play after he has received a beating from Karaghiozis he bribes him and goes into the house. A situation comedy ensues when old man Stavridis arrives. Karaghiozis tries to prevent him from entering the house by using various tricks. Suddenly Sior Dionisios appears from the house and comes face to face with the old man who becomes enraged. Then Karaghiozis intervenes and the old man agrees to give him his daughter's hand in 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

A two-dimensional acrylic figure, jointed at the waist, portraying a man wearing a blue evening suit with top hat and a red bow tie. His shoes are red. He carries a yellow cane and yellow gloves.


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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