On the 2nd day of Christmas: Meet Bebe Ruhi, a Karagöz puppet with Dwarfism and a whole lotta goof


Bebe Ruhi, a Karagoz puppet with Dwarfism, shown here on a horse (thanks to the Asian Shadow Theatre Exhibition's photostream at flikr, click photo for link)

Meet Bebe Ruhi, a Karagöz shadow puppet with Dwarfism, may be a small man, but he is a man with a big heart that is full of goofiness.

My husband M. always says that he liked Bebe Ruhi the best as a child.  In traditional Karagöz shadow puppet theatre, Bebe Ruhi is described as follows thanks to my favorite Karagöz website, run by Emin Senyer: ” (he is a) dwarf (that) has an impediment in his speech and pronounces r and s as y. He asks the same questions over and over again until people become tired of listening to him. Sometimes he is a dwarf and sometimes a hunchback. When he is a dwarf he is called by such names as Beberuhi or altikulac (six-fathom), and is shown to be fidgety, talkative and extremely boastful. He often does odd jobs around the neighbourhood and is somewhat spoiled by the pity of the locals. Karagoz on many occasions, has to beat him in order to get rid of him.”

Here is another image of Bebe Ruhi

So, in this non-traditional Karagöz shadow puppet world in my head, things are a little different. There will be no beating, for example.  Bebe Ruhi was born and raised in Bursa – and as his disability was ridiculed as a child – he found a way to make it work for him – in the circus.  Eventually, he joined the Sultan’s court as an oddity.  Ableism aside, as this is a modern concept, Bebe Ruhi has not yet made his presence known in the story of my roadtrip, but true to form, he is a questioner that is true to my heart.  It doesn’t hurt that I am a disability studies scholar in my professional life, of course.  But I think I like Bebe Ruhi best because in my own life, I often feel that I am not heard, and ask the same questions over again, perhaps in the way that Albert Einstein would define as insane, so, perhaps this is why I have such a good feeling for him, I can relate to him and to his insanity.  Bebe Ruhi doesn’t sleep much – and he loves to come out when I am teaching.  He is usually swilling a Red Bull energy drink and then loving the speedy feeling that causes him to think super-analytically and talk at breakneck pace – posing questions to the students that are rhetorical and otherwise.

However, he is also the Karagöz puppet character that is the one who eggs me on – encourages me to be proud of myself – but that often leads me into the dangerously slippery slope of boastfulness.  Bebe Ruhi just LOVES to talk – and encourages me to hang out with the friends that talk the most.  He is the one that has the absolutely most difficult time in the car with M. when we are driving on an actual in-the-car road trip vs. what I refer to as “the roadtrip of cross-cultural marriage.”  That Bebe Ruhi, he chatters all the way, driving M. nuts when all he wants to do is focus on the road.  Bebe Ruhi will often drive Esma nuts – she is the peace-loving, meditative and quiet hippie puppet that you met yesterday. :)

Look out for Bebe Ruhi, he’s coming to town soon, and he has a lot to say!.

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18 thoughts on “On the 2nd day of Christmas: Meet Bebe Ruhi, a Karagöz puppet with Dwarfism and a whole lotta goof

  1. . . for the first time I think I am really beginning to understand the connection between you and uoy! (like wow only backwards). Fascinating! There was me thinking that these puppets were a figment of your imagination – nothing could be further from the truth; am I right?
    You and uoY – ouY and You! Harika!

  2. YOU and UOY, exactly. :)

    Indeed, nothing could be farther from the “truth” – it is all about the lens. And I choose a crazy, funny artistic lens for this non-ordinary part of my life.

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  15. Yes-I have often thought the same! One day, I think my puppets will need to meet those English classic puppets…thank you so much for your comments!

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