This shield 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.

The shield was attached to a number of characters in the centuries-old Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre (Karaghiozis) tradition. It is used in heroic plays and attached to the sturdy hand of the puppet. The shield is used by many puppeteers including Dimitri Katsoulis, when performing the play 'Megalexandros [Alexander the Great] and the Cursed Snake'. It is carried by Karameimet [a Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre character] during the performance. Karameimet carries this shield when he goes to face the snake to kill it and win not only the hand of the Veziris' daughter, but the 200 pounds the Veziris had promised. Before the snake emerges from the cave, Karaghiozis plays a joke on Karameimet who becomes angry and threatens Karaghiozis. At that moment the snake attacks, grabs Karameimet and pulls him into the cave to devour him.

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

Physical Description

A two-dimensional shield shape, in cross-section, cut from plastic and painted in orange, green, yellow and red, and outlined in black. In the centre of the outer, curved surface is a large eye. A reinforcing strip. of plastic has been glued to the straight surface.


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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