Caravan of Cultures

***Caravan of Cultures is being redesigned and is currently unavailable.  We expect to have it back online and available again early in 2019 along with out newly added musical offerings.***

Karagoz and Hacivat travel the Silk Road!

Thank you for visiting my Caravan of Cultures web page! Caravan of Cultures is designed as a dynamic, live, onstage, puppet themed event that takes the two shadow puppets Karagoz and Hacivat across the length and breadth of the ancient trading networks known today as The Silk Road. Hosted by "Ali" the caravan leader (puppeteer Cliff Long), this presentation takes Karagoz and Hacivat with the aid of a magic lamp to Baghdad, Samarkand, Kashgar, Chang'an, and beyond. The performance can be ordered in a sixty or ninety minute format, with four additional in depth modules available if requested.

Caravan of Cultures has been designed primarily for Middle School students but can be adapted to younger or older participants if requested*. The program has been developed not only as an historically based entertainment, but also to foster cross-cultural understanding and respect at an early age. Karagoz and Hacivat are met at all steps along the journey by historic individuals such as Muhammad ibn Battuta, Caliph al-Mamun (founder of The House of Wisdom in Baghdad), Genghis Khan, Maryam al-Ijiliya al-Astrulabi, Admiral Zheng He and Marco Polo. At each stop along the way, customs, traditions, literature and artistic expression are discussed and exchanged to the enrichment of not only Karagoz and Hacivat, but the attending audience as well. All puppets are presented in traditional Turkish shadow puppet style with the addition of full sized arm puppets that periodically make appearances during the show in the forms of a dragon, a camel and a silk worm.

In addition to the two versions of the show which are described in further detail below, four separate feature modules are currently available which focus in depth on specific aspects of Silk Road life. These modules run an extra hour each in format, and can be added on to any Caravan of Cultures performance. They are not available separately. Their description also appears in the paragraphs which follow.

Caravan of Cultures (full ninety minute presentation):

This version of Caravan of Cultures features all ten stops offered in the program and includes Constantinople (Istanbul), Baghdad, Samarkand, Kashgar, Dunhuang, Chang'an, Nara (in Japan), Java, Cochin (in India), Jeddah, and return to Constantinople. Sets change accordingly on the puppet stage as the "caravan" moves from place to place.

Synopsis of performance: After participants are greeted by Ali, the caravan leader (live performer) and informed that they are about to embark on a journey across the Silk Road on a magic caravan, Ali disappears behind stage and the shadow puppets make their first appearance in the Grand Bazaar in Constantinople. Karagoz has acquired an old brass lamp in the market so he can see at night while on the caravan, but soon he and Hacivat discover that what they have in their possession is a magic lamp which takes them from one city to the next during their journey. On each leg of the caravan, Karagoz and Hacivat will encounter a different cultural element specific to that locality and will discuss what they are experiencing, often with comic interplay as would be traditional for their style of Turkish puppetry. The puppeteer will come out from behind the curtain from time to time as the caravan leader to continue further dialogue with the audience. Music, lights and special stage effects are also part of this presentation. The program ends with a return to the Grand Bazaar in Constantinople, and the question, "who will be the next to make the journey?"

Caravan of Cultures (sixty minute presentation)

If a shorter presentation is preferred, a sixty minute version of the full show is available. This presentation is essentially the same as the ninety minute offering but visits six stops instead of ten. These six are: Constantinople (Istanbul), Baghdad, Samarkand, Kashgar, Dunhuang, and Chang'an, with a return to the Grand Bazaar in Constantinople. The same stage effects apply to both the sixty and ninety minute presentations.

Additional Featured Modules:

The following four "Silk Road in Depth" modules are available and can be added on to a Caravan of Cultures performance for an additional fee. Each module runs one hour.

"What's Cookin?" Foods of the Silk Road

A culinary visual journey through the lands just visited in Caravan of Cultures. Participants will learn how and why certain foods developed in specific regions, and how many of these foods are still incorporated in regional cuisine today. A selection of Silk Road recipes including some from the oldest known cookbook, the "Kitab al Tabikh" (The Book of Recipes) dating to 9th century Persia will be included at the end of the presentation to take home.

Literature, Art and Culture: A Silk Road Diaspora

An overview of the development and dissemination of major trends in art, literature and style along the Silk Road. A visual presentation of trends in dress and style will be discussed as will the movement of artistic and engineering ideas such as the concept of the arch, and the presence of "the three rabbits" who first show up on the ceiling of one of the caves at Dunhuang in the 9th century, on a Mongol coin in the `12th century, and finally in the carvings of cathedrals in England in the 15th century. Selections from the readings of Rumi and Omar Khayam will also be included in this offering.

Music and Dance of the Silk Road

This module includes a short visual introduction to music and dance of the Silk Road and then proceeds on to CD recordings of traditional music from Turkey, Persia, India, China, Japan and Indonesia with explanations of each style and how each style came into being. Some instruments will be available to be tried by participants. DVD footage of traditional dance from these regions will also be shown. Presentation will conclude with a short DVD performance by Yo Yo MA and the Silk Road Ensemble to demonstrate how these traditional forms of music are still strong, adaptable and viable in the 21st century.

The Caravan Leader's Pocket Guide to Survival, or, How to Get There and Back Again Alive (Mostly)

A presentation discussing what it takes to be a successful caravan leader. Participants will learn what type of skills and knowledge were necessary to lead a caravan from one destination to another, safely. Discussion will include what types of animals to use, what type of food and how much, where to acquire additional supplies on the way, where to find fresh dependable water, how to cope with the specific circumstances presented by mountainous regions or deserts, how to protect the caravan from attack by bandits and how to communicate in regions that did not speak your language. This module offers specific information on strategic long range planning and abstract thinking beyond one's immediate needs. Participants receive a small certificate at the end of this module (and after a short ten to fifteen question quiz) certifying them as completing the course in Silk Road caravan leadership and possessing the knowledge to safely lead a caravan to "there and back again alive (mostly)".


Caravan of Cultures is intended to be a continually evolving work, reflecting the latest data and scholarship relating to multidisciplinary study of the Silk Road in all of its many aspects.

If you have any questions about this program or would like further information please contact me at 443-822-6085 or at A brochure with booking and pricing information will be available on January 1st and will gladly be sent to interested parties on request.

* Caravan of Cultures is suitable for middle school thru to adult audiences. Suggested minimum age for participants, eight years.



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Caravan of Cultures

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Web site created by Kat Bennett, La Sirene Publications.

Photograph of puppet stage taken by Kat Bennett 2011. All rights reserved.

Host: Any corrections or comments please contact Cliff Long at

Last updated 12/3/2018
by Cliff Long