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AEGEAN ISLANDS

Pottery

Sifnos is known all over Greece for the creations of its potters, and the art of pottery on the island is believed to have begun already in the early-Cycladic era. The soil has all the ingredients of a refractory material, while the burning material, such as the pistacia plants, was abundant and there were running waters. Thus, the potters set their workshops on the coastal villages making “mastelo” (earthen pot used in Easter to cook meat), “skepastaria” (utensil used to cook the traditional chick pea soup), “tsikali” (cooking utensil), crocks, jugs, jars, half-crocks.  The pottery flourished between the 18th and the early 20th century and the ceramics were traded not only in Greece, but they were also exported in countries of the Eastern Mediterranean.

 

The Sifnian potters travelled to the rest of Greece and they tranferred their expertise ending up being a synonym of words such as “kanatas” and “tsoukalas”. In the past the potteries in Sifnos were over 100, while today only few have been left. Famous “tsoukalades” of Sifnos are Apostolidis in Platis Gialos, Atsonios in Vathy, Depastas in Herronisos, Lebesis in Artemonas, Podotas in Kamares etc. There are also quite a few younger ones, such as Labros and Antonis Skandalis.

* Out of the cooking utensils that the potters used to make, the most well-known were “tsikali” and “mastelo”. “Tsikali” was the most basic product, which was exported massively from Sifnos. Made of refractory clay, highly resistant to fire, it was well-known throughout Greece as the best cooking utensil.

It is used up to today for the production of Sifnian “revithada” (chickpea soup). “Mastelo” is the traditional utensil in which the Easter meat was cooked in the oven, one of the most famous dishes in the island.

The crock, utensil for water transportation, was the hardest pottery type to make, due to the specificity of its shape. “Lainas or lainaki”, a type of jug for water or wine, was known for its use in the custom of Klidonas with the silent water (celebration of Ai Giannis). Characteristic traditional utensils of the island were also “foufou”, traditional clay portable brazier, and “flaros”, structure placed on the sun porch of the house, in the opening where the fireplace smoke comes out.

The tourist growth on the island from 1970 onwards gave new impetus to the art of pottery and the “tsikalaria” (potteries) started operating again. The production was amended for the needs of the tourists. It is encouraging that young people evolve this art with original creations which they exhibit or sell in their workshops-showrooms. Most of the things that are now made are cups, mugs, platters, whereas traditional ceramics, such as the crock and “flaros”, are made for different use. The crock has now become a decorative utensil and “flaros” is used as a lamp.

* Source: www2.egeonet.gr

 

 

Ιnfo 

-Exhibitions of the young potters are organized on the island in the summer. You will find interesting data about pottery at the site of the Municipality of Sifnos www.sifnos.gr and at http://dim-sifnou.kyk.sch.gr

-The clay furnaces, the so-called “flari”, were initially large ware jars, in which they used to open holes in order for the smoke to come out and they were placed upside down. When “flaros” was not pulling out the smoke well, it would get blackened and this is where a local cursing expression originated from.

 

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