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

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The design


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When the owner wanted to build a home, they called, depending on the funds they had available, the most famous masons and mutually arranged the design for the new home.
From cases we encounter in documents but also from conversations (Christidis) with masons from Konitsa, we cite what the masons meant when they said “design”:
a. The general dimensions and also the positions and sizes of the windows. In the specific case, the meaning of “design” is extended to the programming schedule of the work activities as well as the description of the exact appearance of the facings.
Indicative is the case of the Church of the city of Delvino (1796): “… The Pasha … decided and gave the design to the Christians, as follows: a) to build the length and width as the existing, but the height to be half of the first, b) windows to not open, but small and on one side …, c) Once they work 40 days and nights to finish the outside of the new building they will paint it with black paint so that it looks old, d) Whatever is needed on the interior, for the tavatzides to work freely and whatever they want and after the deadline whenever they are able”.
b. The height, the general impression of the exterior of the house, and some basic elements of the rooms (here “sofades” (divans), namely “basia”) and the general geometrical shape (“regular” or “non regular”).
We cite (Lampridis): “Generally though the homes before the Ali did not have any outside décor or windows to the street to avoid displays, while in the rooms there were the so called sofades (divans), up to and during the days of the Ali, many had built stately homes as per the Venetian design. Now though the homes are regular and inside they are European style, see the home of … and the now raised home of Pavlos Vlachlidou, attorney. … Yet there are many large and many-roomed houses, but older and designed without regularity …”
c. General dimensions, number of rooms, and possibly the indication of a specific house as a model. There was frequently a rough plan by the head mason, in order to implement the above.
d. Perhaps just like today or a more complete description and detailed building instructions. It is most likely a description, as seen by instructions of one of the Zosimades benefactors, to the wardens of the Church of St. Nikolaos in Ioannina, written six years later (1838).
On the document they sent (Seggounis), we read: “… In am notifying you about the building of the Church of Saint Nikolaos so we are absent of any responsibility, that you must inquire to find a hard-working and ideal mason, god-fearing and with a good demeanor, to assume to build in the old style and the same foundations the church with all the following, prioritized by the iconostasis, the Bishop’s throne, the Pulpit and the stools, for women as for men, and the windows like the old one where the women stood, until he delivers it with the keys and for the entire building”.This document shows that the design as well as the responsibility of the construction was had by the head mason. It also reveals that when they said “in the old style” they all knew the elements of the old church very well. Designs with the present meaning were compiled by the head masons in Andros 100-200 years ago, on rough papers with pencil, t square, triangle and compass, by scale (ground plans and façade) as well as decorative details.
e. A specific type of house that was on everyone’s mind. It was something known, that the people as well as the masons knew. This perhaps occurred more in places the same masons worked for quite some time and they all knew the local “designs”.
f. A sketch of the head mason that derived from the exact impression of the existing house-that obviously had been indicated as a model by the owner-adapted to his requirements.
g. On site definition, first of the dimensions and the arrangement of the foundations and possibly a verbal agreement with the head mason of some details. According to the masons of the villages of Konitsa there were no books or pictures with house plans, from where they could get ideas. This certainly does not exclude the possibility of some Zagorisian merchant bringing such books or plans from Europe or Constantinople or from somewhere else. How though could the mason “translate” these to the local conditions?The transport and application of a new architectural design by the masons through memorization must have been the primary method of distributing the “designs” of the buildings. A respective testament is provided by Ai-Giorgi of the upper neighborhood of Pyrsogianni, where “…they transferred the design of the Cathedral of Athens in their minds and, they made the church the exact same …”, however the similarities with the original are few.
Approximately respective to how the masons and the owners perceived the “design” were the following methods of “designing” a home, according to the testaments of masons.
a. The head mason, after discussing with the owner, prepared a sketch on rough paper.
b. The owner indicated a specific house as a model.
c. The owner suggested general dimensions and what rooms he wanted.
d. The owner indicated general dimensions, rooms (type and number) and a specific house as a model.
e. The “design” was an imaginary model, known to the head mason as well as to the owner. It pertained to simple cases of ground plans, easy to memorize.
f. The owner only indicated details to the head mason. The rest he thought on his own.
g. They defined the limits of the house and the positions of the spaces on site, perhaps in cases of a narrow lot.
At least in certain cases some of the previous methods of design would be applied successively. The first “type” was given by the head mason with a sketch. If there was acceptance in general, it became a “model”. If he found greater acceptance and time duration, it was instituted as a known standard, such as e.g. the four-space symmetrical house, and it was then known to masons and home owners.