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.

Pasha Ismei is a character in the centuries-old Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre (Karaghiozis) tradition. He is Turkish, a very senior officer in the Turkish Army. He is also a politician, governor of a very large district (Pasaliki) which he governs like a dictator. He is cruel, harsh in dispensing life or death sentences and unjust in his decision-making. He likes to live comfortably. Pasha Ismei appears in all the Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre plays. In the work 'The Three Questions and the Lie of the Pasha' he is outwitted by Karaghiozis. He makes a deal with Karaghiozis that if Karaghiozis can tell him a lie which he will admit publicly is a lie, not only will he not issue him with a death sentence, but he will grant him 50 pounds. By means of various language tricks Karaghiozis confuses him so much that he convinces him in the end to accept that the story he was telling him was a lie and that he should give him 100 pounds.

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 waist. There is a hole in one arm for the attachment of supporting rod. He has white hair and beard and wears a blue military uniform. The jacket is trimmed with gold braid and he wears medals and a sword. He wears spurs on his boots.


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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