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Culture Traditional forms of Art - Professions textliles Epirus Ioannina

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Theoretical-historical approach


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In our effort to give a thorough picture of the art of weaving as this was fashioned and developed in the prefecture of Ioannina we must first attempt a brief theoretical approach of the art of weaving in general.
The art of weaving is defined as the sum of all methods and processes of production of woven products while woven are meant the products of the loom. An absolute historical beginning for this art is not found. That is why it is necessary to institute a theoretical formal beginning.
The view that predominated was that the starting point of the art of weaving is in the prehistoric ages and is an evolution of basket-weaving and paper-weaving. For these two techniques tools are not required, they are executed by hand. In reality though there is no archeological testimony that certifies that weaving came about from basket-weaving. To the contrary the first traces of weaving and basket-weaving belong to the Mesolithic ages and they both give the picture of two techniques, both advanced.
According to a second approach it is supported that the first form of textiles was pilos (felt). According to this version the older materials were not woven, namely products of the loom, but were made with the mutual interlocking of animal fibers which following a special treatment with water, chemical substances, heat and many hours of beating with a paddle were pressed on one level and constituted cloth. With felt however, weaving is not observed. This technique is referenced by ancient sources (Herodotus IV 23, 73, 75, Plato Laws, VIII, 849 C, Rep.239D), however it is a technique known only in Europe and Asia and was primarily dispersed in areas with nomadic populations. In reality it is a technique parallel to weaving that services special needs. The greatest peak in the art of weaving in Ipirus but also the Balkan region in general is reached from the 15th and mainly from the 16th to the 18th-19th century. It is now a folk art that is an expression of the spirit of people, with a variety of colours and designs. Exquisite examples of this phase are encountered in many regions of the Prefecture of Ioannina, Zagoria, Tzoumerka and Metsovo where the weaving production may be outlined to a satisfactory degree.
The 15th century is a landmark for weaving in Ipirus, as the Ipirus manner subsumes and follows the feudalistic world of the Ottoman Empire from which it derives, borrows and assimilates. Also in the years of the Turkish domination the art of weaving assumes a place among the types of Greek folk art.
In the 18th century two trends are seen: on the one hand animal-breeding is developed and on the other a class of immigrant merchants is developed that moves about and becomes the carrier of new ideas and trends. The woven materials become a commercial, exportable product and a source for producing wealth, but they remain within the framework of a home “industry”, an art exclusively of the women at home. From this period are salvaged agreements and written orders and clearly present the change of home weaving to workshop weaving.