Hacivat Karagoz vector logo
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About Hacivat Karagoz
Karagöz and Hacivat are the lead characters of the traditional Turkish shadow play, popularized during the Ottoman period. The central theme of the plays are the contrasting interaction between the two main characters. They are perfect foils of each other: Karagöz represents the illiterate but straightforward public, whereas Hacivat belongs to the educated class, speaking Ottoman Turkish and using a poetical and literary language. Although Karagöz has definitely been intended to be the more popular character with the Turkish peasantry, Hacivat is always the one with a level head. Though Karagöz always outdoes Hacivat’s superior education with his “native wit,” he is also very impulsive and his never-ending deluge of get-rich-quick schemes always results in failure. Hacivat continually attempts to “domesticate” Karagöz, but never makes progress. According to Turkish dramaturge Kırlı, Hacivat emphasizes the upper body with his refined manners and aloof disposition, while Karagöz is more representational of “the lower body with eating, cursing, defecation and the phallus.” Karagöz-Hacivat plays are especially associated with Ramadan. Until the rise of radio and film, it was one of the most popular forms of entertainment in Turkey. It survives today mainly in a toned-down form intended for audiences of children.