This puppet was made in 1979 by Dimitri Katsoulis at his home in Port Melbourne and used by him in a Christmas Eve performance in Melbourne in 1979. It was a special performance for a Greek community group formerly from Egypt prior to the distribution of gifts to the children. 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.

Boats are an accessory used for Christmas decorations (a Greek tradition) and children hold them when singing carols. The puppet Kolitiris of the Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre tradition held the boat in his hands during the singing of Christmas carols. Dimitri Katsoulis performed a special short sketch and the puppet Karaghiozis and the children sang Christmas carols. Kolitiris held the sailboat and Birikokos held a metal triangle which he hit with a small metal rod to produce sound.

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

Physical Description

A two dimensional acrylic boat decorated in blue, red and yellow paint with blue and white flag at top. A small hole has been punched at boat end. Item is reversible.


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.

More Information