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Culture Traditional forms of Art - Professions made of stone Epirus Konitsa

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Topics
made of stone
textliles
Silver work
Wood sculpture
Hagiography - Painting
LOCATION
Epirus
Zagori
Ioannina
Konitsa
Krapsi
Lakka Souli
Pyrsogianni
Tzoumerka
Tsepelovo
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04/09/2007
1.The masons of stone and the oldest periods of development of this skill.

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The tradition of the skill of stone masonry in the Greek region is many centuries old, spreading its roots past the historical period. It continues to the historical years of Ancient Greece and the Byzantium (as we read in the Provincial book of Leontas the Wise and elsewhere), in order to reach past the Fall of Constantinople and the period of Turkish domination until the more recent years with small or large changes. Fortress cities, communities, homes, churches, bridges, mills and others, are some of the most significant works, a testament of an amazing course of this skill.
In Ipirus the course is similar. Villages where the work of its residents with construction and stone makes them renowned in the Balkans and then in many areas of the world, are encountered in the northern part of the province of Konitsa, right and left of the river Sarantaporos, reaching to the tops of the Grammos mountain, the renowned Mastoroxoria, with head villages of Pyrsogianni and Vourbiani, but also in another portion of the prefecture of Ioannina, the villages of TzoumerkaIt is unknown when and how these villages obtained so many masons who spread the skill to other neighboring villages. Legends tell of the origin of the Vourbianites from ruling families of Constantinople. It is referenced (V. Milonas) that the rulers of the village were from the Palaiontologi of Constantinople, that they had the double-headed eagle on the flag of their village, that they attempted to rebuild their manors on their own and so developed into the best builders. Some of the manors of Vourbiani (Oikonomeika, Tranteika, Grammatikeika, Anagnosteika and Doukeika) “give it away with their name and its construction”. The starting point of the Pyrsogiannites is considered to be Macedonia or Constantinople, from where they fled due to the pressures of the Turks. The founding of Pyrsogianni in its present position is placed at the end of the 17th century following successive temporary settlements in neighbouring regions.
Based on written sources and other testaments their historical starting place in the area generally dates to the 16th century. They pertained to notable collaborations of many villages, that were called mastoroxoria (mason villages), and information regarding them is given to us by Chatzimixali and Faltais as well as more recent researchers.
In general most villages of Konitsa such as Asimoxori, Vourbiani, Gorgopotamos, Drosopigi, Kastanea, Laggada, Kefaloxori, Lykorraxi, Oksia, Plikati, Plagia, Pyrsogianni, Xioniades, Theotokos, but also Molista, Ganadio, Monastiri and remote Aetomilitsa are exclusively villages of builders, which is why they are called Mastoroxoria. Of the villages of Tzoumerka and the greater area, renowned are the mastoroxoria of Pramanta, Melissourgi, Ktistades, Raftanaioi, Ampeloxori, Agnanta, Gourgiana, Koukoulia, Graikiko, Mixalitsa, Xouliarades, Petrovouni and Vaptistis.Perhaps the most united of all masons of Ipirus were the Konitsiotes builders and one could venture to say they built Greece. They also built the Balkans and Asia Minor, Egypt and are now moving on to Avissynia and Sudan.
From the wandering builders of Konitsa who traveled in bouloukia or daifades, with their mules and donkeys, were not only built Greek cities and Greek villages, but as many elements indicate, came by the hundreds the teachers, scientists, and benefactors who preserved Hellenism. Of the builders and carpenters, carvers and hagiographers of Konitsa, of the neighboring Zoupani, of Koritsa, of Metsovo, the Tzoumerka, many stayed behind and settled permanently in Peloponnesus, Mainland Greece, Evia, Thessaly, Eptanisa, Macedonia, Thrace and Asia Minor and contributed to the development and preservation of Hellenism.
It is obvious that the older non-native residents of towns and cities in these areas were the builders, carpenters and others of similar professions, as here they found constant work and from wanderers became permanent residents. Ipirite families of builders and carpenters are found to be old residents of the cities and towns throughout all of Greece. That is why in Athens and Piraeus the families of wandering builders of Ipirus settled permanently and became the core of the developing in size as well as power Ipirite community of the two cities, whose number of members now reaches the thousands. Therefore it is not in the least bit odd that the very old Ipirite union of Athens the “Educational Brotherhood of Vourbiani” belongs to builders. It is a known fact how many scientists, engineers, architects, professors, doctors, teachers originated from the wandering builders of Konitsa as well as their contribution to the maintenance, expansion and development of the Hellenic idea, since even in the Kurdish villages of the Desert the Hellenic style dominated in the buildings.
What is certain though is that in Ipirus the poverty, the desolation of the area and the insecurity due to the raids of various gangs, led to the gradual abandonment of agrarian and animal breeding activities and to the prominence of the masons of stone, wood and hagiography that worked organized into groups (bouloukia).