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.

Thervenagas is is a character in the centuries-old Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre (Karaghiozis) tradition. He is the instrument of execution of government orders. He is harsh on violators of the law, a brave man, argumentative, he often gets into arguments with Uncle Yiorgos (another Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre character) against whom he always loses. To amuse his superior he always beats up everybody, especially Karaghiozis.
Thervenagas always appears in the introduction and in all the plays he is always beating up anyone who makes waves outside Sarai. In the heroic play 'Katsantonis' the Pasha or 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) send him and a strong military contingent to confront the legendary captain Katsantonisin a duel. He accepts and after a wild clash he kills him. Thervenagas is a principal puppet, however many puppeteers identify him by the name Veli-Gekas.

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 and thighs. He has black hair and moustache and wears a turban-style cap. He wears a green jacket with wide sleeves, green bloomers and gaiters, and red and yellow shoes which are turned up at the toe. He wears an empty scabbard and carries a curved dagger. There are two holes in the upper arm for the supporting rod to be attached.


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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