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Home > Museum > Passports: New Arrivals from the World of Puppetry


Notes by Bradford Clark, Curator


Egyptian Khiyal al Zill Shadow Puppetry

                                            
El Rekhim, c2007
Dr. Nabil Bahgat
Egypt; shadow puppet
Gift of Dr. Nabil Bahgat
AF.0041




Woman at Home, c2007
Dr. Nabil Bahgat
Egypt; shadow puppet
Gift of Dr. Nabil Bahgat
AF.0039



Modern Figure of a Man, c2007
Dr. Nabil Bahgat
Egypt; shadow puppet
Gift of Dr. Nabil Bahgat
AF.004

Egyptian Khiyal al Zill Shadow Puppetry

Nearly one thousand years ago, Arab scholars wrote of both shadow and string puppets as ways to discuss philosophical concepts. The term khiyal al zill came to represent shadow puppetry. Plays were performed in mud huts and palaces for all kinds of ceremonial occasions, and multi-episode serial plays were especially popular over the month-long fast of Ramadan.

While the form came close to extinction in the modern era, recent efforts have resulted in its being revived and documented by contemporary scholars and presented to new audiences.

Dr. Nabil Bahgat created the replicas of traditional museum figures in Cairo and Berlin by using techniques he learned from Hassan Khannufa, one of the very last traditional shadow players, who passed away in 2004. The Wamda Shadow Puppet troupe in Cairo, which is dedicated to the revival of the Egyptian folk puppetry, was co-founded by Dr. Bahgat and Isis Syrtal. In 2007, Wamda (which means “Beam of Light”) created “Our Shadows” in collaboration with the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble, introducing Egyptian traditional shadow theatre to American audiences.

Saudi Aramco Magazine’s article on Arabic shadow puppetry

Dr. Nabil Bahgat’s YouTube channel with performance clips of
traditional performers


Center for Puppetry Arts catalog pages:
El Rekhim
Woman at Home
Modern Figure of a Man


2012-13 Season sponsored in part by:

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