On the 1st day of Christmas: Meet Esma, the hippie Karagöz puppet


Meet Esma, a member of the chorus of dancing ladies, the largest grouping amongst the Karagöz shadow puppet troupe

So, for the 12 days before Christmas, you are meeting the various Karagöz shadow puppet characters that roam around in my head.  No, I am not a person with a major mental illness.  No, I don’t really, really see puppets in my everyday life.  Yes, I have found that all of the confusion and just generally new stuff that comes along with living in a cross-cultural marriage is well-conceptualized as many different little voices.  I think the puppets have revealed themselves to me in order to help me to see how my partner may view things…or to help me think about how my in laws may view things, etcetera.  These little puppets are having a great time while we are in the States – learning all about what goes on here and what the customs and practices are.  These little puppets also love going back home to Turkey – and guide me all over the place.  So, today, I want you to meet Esma, the hippie Karagöz shadow puppet.

Esma is a reserved young lady, despite her work as a member of the chorus of dancing ladies who always introduce and conclude Karagöz puppet shows.  She spends the early morning hours meditating – and she is a master, or should I say a mistress, at this.  While many of the other lady puppets have a strong personality – often speaking back to their partners or husbands – Esma has no need for this.  She is a tranquil soul, who brings out the best moments in me.  I guess this is why I started with her.

Esma, as I have come to know her slowly, is really and truly a hippie.  I am not sure if there were hippies in the Ottoman Empire era from which she hails, but this lady’s love of nature, calm ways, penchant for meditating and use of herbal tinctures tells me she is of this general ilk.  She also occasionally dies her hair a different color, usually pink, purple or green.

Rose petal dress that Esma plans to wear to the ball, from The Faire-ality Fashion Collection (no lie, check it out)

Esma is a “go with the flow” and “let the way become clear” kind of gal.  She loves the color pink – and recently attended the Sultan of Nutcracker’s holiday ball in a dress made solely of bright, fuschia rose petals – of the softest (and most organic) variety, of course.  She tells me “tabi canım, (of course, dear) it was organic! I will have none other out of respect for Mother Earth!”

Preferring Ada çayı (island tea) to rize çayı in the mornings after her meditation, Esma always uses agave nectar in lieu of massive amounts of sugar lumps, like some other puppets I know.  While she is a svelte young lady, she didn’t rub it in, not even once, when I was going through the whole “I dream of burquini” debacle with my sister-in-law to be in the summer of 2004.  She just accepts all human (and puppet) forms as they are, without judgement.  It’s a bit milk and honey from the outside – and may appear to be insincere, but I have learned that she is not, that it is straight from the heart.

Esma was born in Gaziantep (thus the seemingly genetic love of spices galore) – but emigrated to Bursa when she was just an infant.  Her particularly quiet and meditative form of dancing is what led to her invitation to be part of the Sultan’s troupe of dancing lady puppets.  She sends her family her wages every  month.

How these puppets worked it out with a centuries-dead Sultan to inhabit my mind in the 2000s, I will never know.  I am just grateful for their presence, as they always help me to sort out my business as I navigate this cross-cultural roadtrip of marriage with my Turkish husband, M.  Esma is the most calming influence of the shadow puppets, and I am grateful for her presence.  That little puppet has hear calm head screwed on straight.

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This entry was posted in Introducing the Karagöz puppets, On writing about my life with the Karagöz puppets and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to On the 1st day of Christmas: Meet Esma, the hippie Karagöz puppet

  1. Alan says:

    . . if I had Turkish chars. on this machine I would say ‘Memnun oldum, Esma hanim!’

  2. jolly joker says:

    I thought the hippie culture (maybe subculture?) was originally from US around 60’s. But I am sure the Turks will take the credit for that, good for you 🙂

  3. Esma sounds lovely…..I could use a little of her roaming around in my head to mellow me out a bit!
    Keep up the fabulous posts! Can’t wait to read about them all.
    Baci, Trisha

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  5. Liz Cameron says:

    Never fear, Esma heard you first thing, and sent word to her twin sister Esra to head on over to Italia. She’ll be with you shortly. 🙂 I wrote all of these posts 2 weeks ago and it is fun to see them roll out on automatic!

  6. Liz Cameron says:

    Yes, you are always telling me that the Turks claim credit for all sorts of stuff – so why not hippies?

    So anyway, in my crazy mind, why can’t 13th-century born Karagoz shadow puppets that live in my head not be hippies, a concept from the 1960s? Or use manic panic hair dye from the 1980s? Tabi, canim.

  7. Liz Cameron says:

    She says “Ben de memnun oldum Alan Bey Efendi” and looks forward to your aquaintance. 🙂

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