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

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made of stone
Silver work
Wood sculpture
Hagiography - Painting
Lakka Souli
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The ‘protomastoras’ (first mason) or ‘arximastoras’ (head mason) or ‘architekton’ (architect) or ‘prototeknon’ (first man) (word names such as e.g. Architekton Giosis, 1834-1918) was responsible for finding, agreeing, distributing and monitoring the work. Frequently he was a pelekanos, but basically he “had to be good at managing even if he didn’t touch the stone”. The workers were paid at the end of the year usually, just before reaching the village.
The corners and façade were built by the best, the inside by the second best, and because they also had less work to do, also carried the mortar. As to who went to the quarry, there are conflicts of opinion. Some said that the best went, because they needed to know the stone well (“but raw work was done there, as long as the stone was not wasted”) or that there went very strong men or finally, they who did not manage very well “on the wall”.
The boulouki only had builders, not other specialties, who also did the following work: they dug the foundations, installed the casings and grenties (under-flooring), built the “tsati” and the “plakiasma”, namely they covered the roof with stone tiles. For the lime there were special limekiln workers who supplied it, but sometimes the helpers also prepared the lime in order to make a bit more money.
Aside from these mandatory (they never left a home unfinished) activities for the boulouki, they sometimes also built the casings of the windows and rarely plastered.
Regarding the masons – bridge-builders, the “kioproulides”, there is no information available about the organization of their boulouki. It does seem though that they did not exclusively build bridges (since when they did not have work on bridges, they certainly built buildings). So for example, Ziogas Frontzos along with Lambros Betsas built the bridge of Konitsa, but also the Turkish barracks in Konitsa (1884).The pelekani (stone-cutters), these poets of stone, belonged to the boulouki of the masons, but they had a separate specialization and position in respect to their remuneration and esteem from their fellow workers. Aside from the construction of the cornerstones they also chiseled any relief work necessary for the building (lamps, ownership inscriptions, fireplaces etc.), by special agreement. They had a deep knowledge of stone, put spirit in their work and had great patience: “crazies, one day of work”. Frequently the head mason was also a pelekanos as we saw above.
Along with the builders or just after them came the “tavantzides” or “tavatzides”, namely the carpenters. In proper work the casings were prepared by the tavantzides, who delivered them to the builders to enwall them. They constructed all woodworking of the building, but also “ambaria” (holds) for the keeping of grain, as well as a lot of small repair work in older homes. If carvers were not available they also did wood carving. Then the “tsirakia” spent all hours carving the wood beams of the ceiling with small jackknives, using a specific design. The carpenters also acted as plasterers and many times as painters, most likely in the more rough jobs. They prepared the paint themselves (oil paint or egg wash for frescoes). Frequently they only finished one room first so the family could move in and then slowly finished the remaining house which could even take up to 5 years.
The tavantzides of Konitsa and the carvers came from the villages, primarily from Tournovo (Gorgopotamos) and Liskatsi (Asimoxori), where practically everyone did this type of work, as well as from Xioniades and Vourbiani.They were organized into groups (which were not called “bouloukia” or anything else), that were usually family or relations. The hierarchy was clear and the levels were three: head mason-mason-“kalfas” (helper) or “kalfaki” or “tsiraki”. Promotions were done by the head mason and were implemented with the gradual increase of daily wages, as the initiation progressed. The first promotion was marked with the use of the hand saw. The behavior of the head mason toward the kalfakia was hard just as it was respectively in the bouloukia of the builders. They did not have mules. The tools were carried on their own backs.
As pertains to their travels, we must mention that they did not have specific time periods for traveling. Most were away all year long, only ensuring they were at their own village during some holidays. The lives of the women in the village were miserable, as they did not have any help from their husbands. Usually groups of 2-3 workers travelled together perhaps along with a kalfa. Frequently there were groups of 7-8 people, but it was also not rare for only two people to travel together (mason and kalfas).
They worked with a daily wage (“fatoura”), while the wood was supplied by the owner. A house with 2 rooms and beds with a kitchen was finished in one month by 4-5 workers, with 4 rooms in 2-3 months. They did not make much, but they also did not save anything. They loved to revel. They worked “from sun to sun” and spoke “koudaraitika” just as all the other building masons.