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

Ano Ravenia and the Western Zagoroxoria - Boulouki of masons from Pyrsogianni, 1932

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made of stone
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2. The groups of stone masons and their organization

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As we are informed by old (Chatzimixali, Faltais) and new researchers (Kosmas, Christidis), the stone masons did not compose organized professional formations, like unions, but rather collaborations for work, or sinafia of work as they called them (work relationships) or a family for work. They namely comprised smaller or larger groups of skilled workmen – associates, while some of them had the same specialization and others had related professions, bouloukia or daifades or tsourma or parees or syntrofies and they all worked together under a head mason or foreman, who was also the contractor and employer and many times even a partner.
The work was found by the foreman who also managed all issues and each monetary and commercial transaction of the group. It can of course be deemed that many of these bouloukia of work lived communally; they ate from a common mess hall and shared the profits depending on their personal ability and contribution to the work, in a partnership manner. It was only to the younger men, the tsirakia (apprentices) or helpers that they paid them daily wages or a monthly salary.
This form of partnership also had smaller formations that were comprised of one head mason and two – three collaborators, partners or of only one mason and perhaps an apprentice and helper. All formations of work though, small or large, had a certain flexibility regarding the work rules. Depending on each case the details and the terms of the agreement between the partners changed, according to the conditions of each job.
The simplest of all forms of partnerships, is encountered in the so called wandering technicians that traveled not only within Ipirus, but throughout all of Greece, the Balkans and Asia Minor and to the tiniest most remote village, reaching up to highest mountains, to the houses of the nomadic shepherds. Of these most were Ipirites, which set up their temporary workshops for a short time period in towns and villages and if they found work, they stayed permanently.
Some of them had a regular traveling plan that was repeated each year at the same time, so the customers knew when the specialized technician would be passing through, and so were able to prepare for the respective purchases, but primarily for the construction and repair of the objects they needed.
These wandering technicians, that started from their villages with their feedbag on their shoulder, two at a time or even three together along with perhaps a young helper but rarely on their own, were: tailors and gold-embroiderers, terzides and syrmakesides and asimitzides. Others were vainades (barrel makers), others were xalkiades (coppersmiths) and statirades (brass), others were ganotzides (tinkers) and kazazides (cauldron makers), others were xtenades (who sold combs and other accessories for the loom), many blacksmiths, gypsies and plenty of charlatans (empiric doctors) and of course, many builders and woodcarvers and painters who traveled from village to village in order to find work.
They all used their own professional code languages, frequently different for each specialty but also for each region. Just as for example the gold-embroiderers of Ipirus, Kalarrytes and Metsovo had a different code language as the gold-embroiderers from Stemnitsa had a different code in Peloponnesus, another special code language was used by the tailors etc., another by the builders etc. They used these languages to communicate between themselves pertaining to their work interests and they tried to keep them secret in order to communicate without their customers understanding what was being said. To these wandering technicians, whose true home must be considered to be Ipirus and later Western Macedonia, is owed a large part of the proliferation and preservation of the craft throughout all of Greece and the Balkan Peninsula.
All these cooperative formations from the villages could not for various reasons comprise a specific guild, in each village, because the guilds were formed just as in the Byzantine period by technicians or craftsmen – merchants, who had their shops in the cities and within the shops they also had their workshops. Therefore, many workers from the villages became members of the isnafia that existed in the cities. In certain cities however there were special isnafia for the apprentices.
Roufetia that were comprised also of skilled workers from the villages existed in Ioannina primarily the isnafi of the mason builders, the tailors, the xrisiki, the xatzides (innkeepers) etc. Of these isnafia, many also were in the form of credit partnerships, as we are informed by Aggeliki Chatzimixali.