On 4 November, Egypt honoured Palestinian artist Adel Al-Tertir at the closing ceremony of the Arab Forum for Puppet Art and Shadow Puppets in its third edition in Cairo.
"It's a great thing that I am honoured by Egypt. Such union with folk arts that accumulates and proves that folk arts are very much alive. In every country I have visited I make an image box, that beholds our heritage and folk stories," stated Adel Al-Tertir, or Abu-El-Agab (Wonder Man) as he is often known.
Born in Ramallah in 1951, Al-Tertir is one of the pioneers of Palestinian theatre. He first created his theatre troupe Balaleen (Balloons) in 1970 — the first modern theatre troupe in Palestine. In 1975, he was co-founder of Sandouk El-Agab (Wonder Box), which is a remaking of an old curio with an aim to revive folk tales and children's tales.
Being part of the arts of resistance, Sandouk El-Agab is about remembering folk tales and reviving their ethics and morals. But Al-Tertir sees it also as a means to attract the new generation. "We can use it as a new media to attract children to the ethics, and our roots. We can depict the gems of our folk culture and ethics, then convey them to our children via such puppet shows," he told Ahram Online.
The image box, or what is known in Egypt as Sandouk El-Donia (The World's Box), is a wooden box with three glass holes where children watch enchanting images that are manually moved in a circular motion as the story teller narrates or improvises a matching story.
"Folk images from famous siras (folk epics) would be illustrated, but in summary, it is the raw form of cinema and television, as well as a visual artist," he added.