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.

Yero (meaning 'old man') Bisbikis is a character in the centuries-old Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre (Karaghiozis) tradition. He is old and wealthy, but miserly, suspicious, and distrustful; he enjoys flattery and then he becomes 'houvarthas' and is full of self-praise. He is usually used in comedies. In the comedy 'Karaghiozis the Servant', Yero Bisbikis is worried that his daughter will get involved with a gold-digger, so he invites friends and relatives who may know of nice young men of good character to send them to his house, in order to meet his daughter with the intention of marriage if there is a mutual attraction. He hires Karaghiozis as his servant to receive the prospective grooms upon their arrival and to take them to his daughter. However, the daughter rebels and bribes Karaghiozis to frighten them all off by beating up each one upon their arrival. In the end, with the help of Karaghiozis, her father is forced to allow her to marry the man she loves. Yero Bisbikis secondary puppet. The puppeteers who use him allocate to him any Christian name they wish.

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 figure of a man, in profile, jointed at the waist. The man is white-haired and balding, with a moustache. He wears a blue suit with a striped tie.


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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