Monday, February 1, 2021

Overview of the costumes of the Greek Islands, part 2 The Cyclades


Hello all, 

Today I will continue my overview of the costumes of the Greek Islands with the Cyclades Islands.

Kyklades Κυκλάδες

In English usually spelled Cyclades. This group of islands is located to the southeast of the mainland of Attica and Euboea. They are called this because they circle the island of Delos, which was considered sacred in Ancient times. They were the site of a pre Hellenic civilization in the bronze age characterized by stylized sculptures in white marble which appeared very modern to 20th cent eyes. Not all of the islands have retained a folk costume tradition, but some have revived it. 

Andros  Άνδρος

This is the northernmost island in the group. It was settled in ancient times, prior to the classic period. It was part of the Delian league, but often disobeyed Athens. In Byzantine times it had a flourishing trade in silk cloth. In the middle ages it was often an object of contestation between Genoa and Venice.

Dances from Andros. The dancers come in at the 320 mark.

Tinos Τήνος

This is the next island to the southeast. In antiquity this island was also called Ophiussa. This is where Hercules killed the sons of Boreas. It is famous for the church of Panegia Evangelistria, as well as its windmills and dovecotes. This church is the destination of large pilgrimages every year. The costume, which is similar to that of Andros, had died out, but was revived. 

Video taken on Tinos, some dancing at the 1230 mark and later. They are wearing a simplified version of the costume, omitting the kaftan, and wearing a simpler bodice. 

Mykonos Μύκονος

This is the next island in the chain, and is the closest to Delos. In ancient times it was a resupply station for pilgrims going to Delos. Large rocks scattered over the island are said to be Giants who fell in battle with Zeus and Hercules, and then turned to stone. In the middle ages it was successively occupied by the Catalans, the Venetians and the Ottomans. Then Mykonos took part in the Greek revolution under the leadership of Manto Mavrogenous. Today it is a major tourism center. 

The local costume was for a long time, forgotten. Some photos show people dancing in the Paros costume. There are also photos and videos of dancers wearing generic costumes or some that look like Naxos costumes. But more recently, a costume described in detail by a French traveler to Mykonos a couple hundred years ago, Joseph Pitton de Tournefort, has been reconstructed and is now being worn. 

Dances from Mykonos in the reconstructed costume.

Kea  Κέα

This island is also called Tzia Τζια. This is the northernmost of the second row of islands, to the west of the first row. In ancient times the inhabitants had a special veneration of the star Sirius, seeking for its first rising in summer to foretell the quality of the coming year. In the middle ages, like many neighboring islands it fell first to the Venetians and then the Ottomans.  A couple of different costumes are used to represent this island. I am not sure of the difference, except maybe periods in history of fashion. 

In the next two photos, the circle on the left is wearing a Kea costume, while the circle on the right is wearing the Serifos costume. 

Dance from Kea in the unique island costume. 

Dance from Kea in another costume. 

Dances from Kea in more generic costumes. The dancers come on at about the 610 mark

Kythnos Κύθνος

This is the next island to the southeast in this second row. A site at Maroulas has been shown to be inhabited already in 10,000 BC. Copper mining and smelting were important in the Bronze Age. Aristotle is said to have praised the government on Kythnos, but this document has been lost to history. This is a picturesque tourist location, the streets in the towns not being amenable to vehicular traffic due to their narrowness and steepness. There seems to be one particular costume native to this island. 

Dance from Kythnos

Another dance performance from Kythnos with beautiful woven aprons. A couple of the women are wearing the reconstructed Mykonos costume.

Syros Σύρος

Southeast of Kythnos, the next inhabited island is Syros, in ancient times called Syra. The hilltop settlement of Karos dates to 3000 BC, and exemplifies the Cycladic culture. The island was home to Pherecedes, the teacher of Pythagoras. In December of 2018, the authorities on the island announced the official Syros costume, based on historical reconstruction. These are photographs of the ceremony. 

Here is a video of this ceremony. Presentations of the costumes [in Greek] starts at the 2000 min mark, a series of dance performances starts at the 3100 mark.

Just for comparison, here is a video of Syros dances taken in 2013

Serifos Σέριφος

Southwest from Syros lies the island of Serifos, across a channel separating the northern group of islands, which we have just looked at, from the southern. Serifos is the island on which Danae and her infant son Perseus washed up after her father Akrisios set them adrift in a wooden chest in response to a prophecy. In the classic period, Serifos was famous for its frogs being mute. It had iron and copper mines in antiquity, but these were never mentioned by classical authors. The costume of Serifos is of late origin, consisting of a jacket. skirt and apron. 

Notice this woman above is wearing a jacket with a peplum that is elongated in the back. The next group of photos show that the costume designer took this as typical of the island. 

Here is another stage interpretation of the costume.

Dance from Serifos.

Here is another video of Serifos dance, with another interpretation of the costume.

Sifnos Σίφνος

This island lies southeast of Serifos. In antiquity it was very prosperous because it was rich in metals, gold, silver and lead,  that were mined there as early as the 3rd millennium BC. It was in the mainstream of the Cycladic Civilization. It has almost as many churches as there are days in the year, and many feasts and festivals take place on the island to this day. The costume of Sifnos is very rich and shows Venetian and Ottoman influences. There must have been a more day to day costume as well. 

An old black and white video of a dance in Sifnos.

A home video of a dance in Sifnos

Paros and Antiparos, Πάρος και Αντίπαρος

Paros lies east and a little north of Sifnos. In antiquity it was known for its pure white marble, and quarries can still be seen all over the island, mostly abandoned. The marble now belongs to the Greek State, and is used almost exclusively for Archaeological restorations.  Its smaller sister island, Antiparos lies just west of Paros. Paros supported the Persians in the Persian/Greek wars, and was afterwards punished by Athens. It was part of the Athenian League until 357 BC. The oldest Church on the island is said to have been founded by St Helen, mother of Emperor Constantine. 

The costume consists of a full colored jumper worn over a chemise, with a scarf around the head. 

Here we see a group from Paros in the center, with Cretans on the right, and an unknown group in very modern costumes on the left. 

Just a couple of images from Antiparos

Dances from Paros

Dances from Antiparos

Naxos Νάξος

Naxos lies east of Paros. It is the largest of the Cyclades Islands, and was the center of the pre-Hellenic Cycladid Civilization. Naxos was the location of the cave on mount Zas where Zeus was raised. It is the location of the birth of Dionysus, and the island where Theseus abandoned Ariadne. Zas cave, from archaeological finds, was already inhabited in the Neolithic. The costume of Naxos is rather generic, being a skirt with bodice or jacket. There are a couple of interpretations. 

Dances from Naxos

And another video of dances from Naxos. This is a closer view, but at night.

And just one more

Amorgos  Αμοργός

Amorgos lies to the southeast of Naxos, across a straight filled with small islands. It is the easternmost of the Cyclades. Amorgos is exceptionally rich in remains of various civilizations, Minoan, Cycladian, Ionic,  The famous temple of Aphrodite at Aspis was on this island. A famous ancient Christian ikon is housed in the cliffside monastery of Panagia Khozoviotissa, and may be viewed by visitors. A famous old costume is preserved in the local museum, which is used as inspiration for contemporary dance groups. 

Dances from Amorgos

Another dance group from Amorgos

The men's dance native to the island, Niketre.

Ios or Nios  Ίος ή Νιός

This island lies west of Amorgos and south of Naxos. The island is named after violets which are common there. Local dishes are goat cheese and stuffed pumpkin flowers. Ios was successively part of the Cycladian, Minoan, Mycenaean, Phoenecian, Ionic, Athenian and Venetian civilizations. Homer is said to have travelled to Ios, died there,  and is figured much on the island, starting with coins in the 3rd century BC. Today the island continues to be popular with travelers. The old costume of Ios resembles that of Sifnos. 

An old video of dancing on Ios. This clip is very short, but the only one I could find.

Santorini or Thira  Σαντορίνη ή Θήρα

This island lies directly south of Ios, and is the southernmost island of the Cyclades group. The official name of the island is Thira, but one of the old names, Santorini, a contraction of Saint Irene, is still often used. Thira is most famous as the site of one of the largest eruptions in recorded history, which took place in roughly 1600 BC. The caldera is now underwater, and Thira forms a large part of the rim. Excavations at Akrotiri show the amazing Minoan civilization, trapped in time much like Pompeii, only over a thousand years older. Achaeologists have uncovered shops and homes with running water and indoor toilets. 

Dances from Santorini

Dance from Santorini

Anafi Ανάφη

This is a small island which lies east of Thira. The Argonauts, under the guidance of Apollo, took refuge there from a storm. There is a written record from 1884 by the travelling Bents family which describes the old costume. They also mention that the woman who showed them the costume was much made fun of, and unfortunately, this description is all that remains.

Here is a dance performance by a children's group on Anafi.

Kimolos Κίμωλος

Kimolos is southwest of Ios, near the larger island of Milos. It has been the site of many battles throughout history. I have found only a couple of drawings of the old costume of this island. In these drawings the island is called Argentiere. 

Here is a dance video from Kimilos

Here is another dance video, but the dancers are wearing costumes that resemble those of Sifnos or Ios.

Milos Μήλος

Milos lies to the southwest of Kimilos, and is the last inhabited Cyclades island in that direction. The statues of Venus [Aphrodite] and Asklepios of Milo were found on this island. The island has been inhabited since the bronze age, and tuna fishing has been carried on since. After hosting the Cycladian and Mycenaean cultures, the island was settled by the Dorian Greeks. Old drawings show a costume that was similar to others in the central Cyclades, especially to the reconstructed costume of Mykonos. 

Dance performance on Milos. The dancers at the beginning are wearing the Naxos costume, and then do a longer performance of Epirot dances.

There are a couple of other inhabited islands in the Cyclades, Folegandros, and Sikinos, but I have been unable to find any costume material from them. 

This is the end of the second part of this article on the Greek Islands

Thank you for reading, I hope that you have found this to be interesting and informative. 

Roman K


1 comment:

  1. Amazing and very beautiful, thanks for sharing, love your blog and I visit often