Diving into the Microcosm of Puppetry
At the Haridimos Shadow Theatre Museum
Shadow theatre is said to have originated in Asia; and was popular across the Ottoman Empire thus becoming part of the Greek folklore.
The origins of the masterful Haridimos Shadow Theatre Museum, dates to 1860, in Agios Spyridon in Piraeus, in the tiny coffee shop of “barba-Yiannis Brochalis”, who set up a small scene and started playing with his handmade figures. Later, by 1890 the Shadow Theater was taken over by Mimaros, in 1905 by Antonis Mollas, and eventually in 1913, by the shadow puppet master Christos Haridimos, the father.
The collection at the Melina Mercouri Cultural Centre hosts over a thousand original exhibits of three generations of the Haridimos family. A family famous for their performances and folk painting, mainly of the Greek shadow puppets from the beginning of the last century until the 1980s.
The Sotiris Haridimos Shadow Theatre Figure Collection was named after the younger son of the family. The collection presents the old and more recent history of Karagiozis (the popular Greek shadow puppet character of Turkish origin) as well as the evolution of shadow theatre characters from 1850 to the present day.
One can easily appreciate the artistry behind the puppets. Buffalo skin, cardboard, gelatin, and pencil traces are used to create the figures of Karagiozis and other shadow theatre heroes, including Hatziavatis, Barba-Giorgis, Nionios, Morphonios, Vesyropoula, the Pasha, Alexander the Great and the three little children of Karagiozis. Sets -like the Sarai and the Karagiozis shack, the lion, the hut, the Italian of the 1940s with the red boot, Theseus with the Minotaur, the heroes of 1821, as well as bound handwritten books with original sketches and dialogues from the performances given by the Haridimos family, mythological depictions and folk paintings, photographic documents and craftsman tools; everything unfolds the rich heritage and the 150-year history of the Greek Shadow Theater
A mini-session on figures’ construction by Sotiris Haridimos here
The Haridimos Shadow Theatre Museum in Athens is located in the Melina Mercouri Cultural Centre, 66 Iraklidon & Thessalonikis st, Thissio.
The entrance is free.
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Friday 11:00-19:00, Saturday and Sunday 10:00-15:00, The exhibition is closed on Mondays