Traditional hand puppetry

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Inscribed in 2018 (13.COM) on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding

© The Cultural Development Fund (Montage Unit), Egypt, 2014

Al-Aragoz is an old form of Egyptian theatre using traditional hand puppetry. Performances are highly popular events during which puppeteers remain hidden inside a small portable stage while an assistant interacts with the puppets and crowd. Al-Aragoz takes its name from the main puppet, whose distinctive voice is created with a voice modifier. Performers and the audience interact dynamically throughout the shows, which have a comic and entertaining atmosphere, and practitioners must be skilled in manipulating and maintaining the puppet, as well as in improvisation and music. Shows explore a variety of themes relating to daily life, with a recurring theme being the struggle against corruption. The art used to be presented by groups of travelling performers, who moved from one folk celebration to another. However, when these performances began to dwindle, performers and their assistants settled permanently in fixed places, mostly in Cairo. The viability of the practice is threatened by the changing social, political, legal and cultural circumstances of its enactment, such as laws concerning public gatherings, the rise of religious radicalism, an overall decrease in interest among younger generations, and the advanced age of its active practitioners. The number of surviving practitioners has diminished while many of those who once-performed stories have now disappeared.

Al-Aragoz at Al-Azhar Park. The photo indicates how the public is highly attracted to the show during the experimental opening of the park despite the absence of a prior publicity about the show.
It demonstrates that the Arab child is interested and interacted with the show of Aragoz. It is noticed that the faces of the children are focused on it.
An artistic photo shows a performer of Aragoz with his tent. It is noticed that the tent is a specific kind of show media.
The picture shows the participation of adults and children during the presentation of a party of the Aragoz in public places.
The picture shows the Aragoz in one of the shows talking with one of the members of the Aragoz team, the player Mahmoud while giving one of the tales of the Aragoz.
The photo shows the vehicle of Aragoz in the folk celebration at the holy shrine of Lady Zainab. It is one of the most famous show media. It is made of sheets of iron. It is easy to move because of the wheels attached to it.
The picture shows Saber, a pioneer of the pioneers of the Aragoz players in Egypt, holding the puppet of the Aragoz that he made.
A photo was taken from behind. It shows the style of the performer in moving the puppets. The photo introduces Mr Saber and his assistant.
The photo shows a scene taken from the show of the Barbarian. The photo introduces Al-Aragoz, the Barbarian and the assistant.
The photo shows Al-Aragoz talking to the beggar in a scene taken from the show of the Beggar. The performer here is Saber Al-Masri.