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Aragoz: the famous Egyptian puppet Posted by on May 31, 2009 in Culture

Aragoz (الأراجوز), also Karagoz is a traditional puppet in Egyptian popular culture. It started about 70 centuries ago, and since then has continued to entertain people, young and old. It is a small puppet of a man with a funny pointy hat and bright clothes. The puppet appears on a small stage or stand behind which the artist hides. There are usually other characters that act with the Aragoz, like his wife, lover, ruler, policeman, etc. The Aragoz stories usually criticize one or more aspects of Egyptian life and culture, e.g. the excessive power of the policeman or the laziness of a husband who wouldn’t work and provide for his family, etc. In any case, the Aragoz is not a particularly brave or strong character, but a very funny one indeed. Often, he finds himself in trouble and finds a way out using some sort of trick.

The artist who controls the Aragoz puppet speaks in a funny way because he puts 2 metal pieces in his mouth to change his voice in a particular way. The Aragoz usually interacts with his audiences and asks them questions about what to do next. For generations, the Aragoz has served to entertain and often also educate people and children in particular. It used to be popular at children’s TV shows and there is a famous Egyptian actor called “Shokoukou” (شكوكو) who specialized in this particular art.

The Aragoz used to be made of wood, but now it is made of plastic, and it is becoming less popular due to the spread of TV programs and satellite channels. It still exists in some popular celebrations in the countryside, and there are some efforts to preserve this art since there are fears that it may become extinct.

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