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.

Samban Agas is a character in the centuries-old Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre (Karaghiozis) tradition. He is a Turkish nobleman and merchant by trade. He is kindhearted, just in his transactions, charitable, and particularly compassionate towards Greeks. He is a young lover. Samban Agas appears in all the comedies. In the comedy 'Karaghiozis the Secretary' he appears as an uneducated man who asks Karaghiozis to write a letter for him to send to his brother. Samban Agas dictates the text of the letter to Karaghiozis who writes something else. There is a huge mix up and comedic circumstances ensue. In the end Karaghiozis comes undone by Uncle Yiorgos [another Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre Character] who figures out what Karaghiozis is up to.

This puppet is connected by two puppet rods so that it can be manipulated on the stage. The other is at the shoulder so that it can be moved as required.

Information supplied by Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre master Dimitri Katsoulis, 2007.

Physical Description

A two-dimensional puppet made of acrylic material, jointed at the waist, with a multi-jointed arm with leather insert. The figure is that of an old man in Turkish costume. He wears a red and white turban-style cap with black tassel; white shirt and short, black, sleeveless jacket; blue, loose-fitting grousers and a red sash tied at the waist. One arm is extended into five jointed sections.


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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