Syria war: Last puppeteer of Damascus is given lifeline

Syria has an extended and wealthy historical past of shadow puppetry however trendy generation and 7 years of struggle has observed the artwork shape be afflicted by critical decline, the UN’s cultural frame has warned.

Remaining week, the traditional type of storytelling was once added to Unesco’s listing of cultural actions in pressing want of saving.

And nobody was once extra happy via the transfer than Shadi al-Hallaq, the one shadow puppeteer left in Damascus. He hopes that world reputation from the UN will revive the artwork.

Syrian last shadow puppeteer Shadi al-Hallaq holds his puppets Karakoz (L) and Eiwaz (R) before a presentation in Damascus on 3 December 2018.Symbol copyright
AFP

“After they rang to congratulate me, it was once like an afternoon dream,” the 43-year-old puppeteer informed AFP information company.

“There is no-one in Syria who masters the artwork aside from me.”

Shadow puppetry, sometimes called shadow play, grew in recognition around the Center East, specifically Turkey, Egypt and Syria, throughout the Ottoman generation.

For hundreds of years, puppet theatre has additionally captivated audiences throughout portions of south-east Asia, China and India.

Syrian kids cheer up by the shadow puppetry that animates Syrian children who have fled their country's civil war staged by General Art Director in the Ankara Municipality Theatre, Mehmet Tahir Ikiler on 29 May 2014 in Ankara, Turkey.Symbol copyright
Getty Pictures

Historically storytellers used puppets constructed from stretched animal pores and skin in entrance of a translucent display screen to entertain their audiences in espresso stores.

Shadi fled Syria after the struggle erupted in 2011 and crossed into Lebanon the place he labored for a number of years as a development employee.

His cellular theatre set, in addition to 23 hand-made characters, have been misplaced to violence that flared up in japanese Ghouta, simply out of doors the Syrian capital of Damascus, Reuters studies.

Syrian last shadow puppeteer Shadi al-Hallaq is seen moving his puppets Karakoz (R) and Eiwaz (L) from inside his booth during a presentation in Damascus on 3 December 2018. -Symbol copyright
AFP

Shadi works with two conventional characters, the naive Karakoz and his suave buddy Aywaz, to inform the tale of unscrupulous buyers primarily based within the previous town of Damascus.

He controls the puppets on sticks pressed in opposition to the display screen with a mild at the back of in order that their shadows are projected for the target market to peer.

Consistent with Unesco, shadow performs be offering funny social complaint via satirical narratives involving the 2 major characters. However most of the presentations would additionally characteristic feminine characters and speaking animals.

Shadi al-Hallaq, a puppeteer, is seen next to a disabled child during a performance in Damascus, Syria on 3 December 2018.Symbol copyright
Reuters

Unesco officers first spotted Shadi acting his artwork for Syrian refugee youngsters in Lebanon. Now, he’s again in Damascus, and acting for teams of kids and adults.

“My target market are young and old – from 3 years previous to previous males in espresso stores,” he informed AFP.

Syrian children watch a performance by the country's last shadow puppeteer Shadi al-Hallaq in Damascus on 3 December 2018.Symbol copyright
AFP

Even prior to the struggle in Syria, the artwork was once in decline with just a handful of performers around the nation.

Shadi will quickly start instructing a bunch of Syrians who need to turn out to be puppeteers, a Syrian cultural legit informed Reuters.

“I will be able to consider how satisfied other folks shall be to peer this artwork live to tell the tale and now not disappear as it is a part of our heritage and our tradition,” he stated.

Shadi al-Hallaq, a puppeteer, holds two puppets during a performance in Damascus, Syria on 3 December 2018.Symbol copyright
Reuters

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