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06/09/2007
Relationship of weaving to similar types of crafts

Petros Parganas

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The craft of weaving is connected with many other types of human activity. First of all it is connected with animal breeding and generally with all cultivations from which raw materials are derived (silk cultivation, cotton cultivation etc.).
From the moment the raw material is converted into yarn and it is woven the article is created. If it pertains to a household use type it may be connected with the so called decorative crafts, embroidery and gold-embroidery. If the product is destined for trade then it is the work of professionals.
In the case of clothing many technicians must collaborate for its completion: tailors, cape-makers, abatzides, terzides (embroiderers), sirmakesides, takentzides (those who sell takimia namely various hats, pilimata (felt), but also other accessories such as top-hats, garters, belts, gold-embroidered kerchiefs, white or red fez), furriers, tanners, tsarouxia makers. Similar to the takentzides are the tsartsides or tzartzides that were called this from the tsarsi or tzarsi which in Turkish means fabric market. The tzartzides and takentzides competed with the tailors because the latter became so rich they were also able to buy fabrics. The residents of Kalarrytes were famous asimitzides and gold-embroiderers.
Guilds of kazazides, abatzides, cape-makers, and boutzades were categories of one craft. Folklore studies inform us that at the end of the 19th century there were 300 workshops of wool fabrics, for which it is certain that they were supplied the fabric from the looms of the county.
Tailors and cape-makers initially organized into guilds, closed professional trade unions, and were masters of a craft they had inherited and learned as young children. That is the reason why many families were given respective surnames such as raptis (tailor), bourtzos etc. It is one of most serious and dignified professions, which is why they used it as a surname of honor for craftsmen, scientists etc., for prominent citizens. With the exception of the Sarakatsani who ignored the tailor and particularly the wandering tailors because they considered it a shame to wear clothing that were not sewn and decorated by their women and also considered the profession of the tailor to be feminine.
The tailors were either traveling or resided in the city. The increased demand for clothing brought many of them wealth. They sewed but also embroidered clothing, which is why other categories of craftsmen were created amongst them such as terzides, syrmakesides, who satisfied the need for clothing adornment. The clothing prepared by the tailors was distributed to the market by merchants, who then became tradesmen-transporters.
The specialization of the art of sewing created the profession of the kapotas. Capotades were those who sewed capes. The capes were exported abroad thereby escaping the field of self-consumption. Boutzos is the tailor who sewed black capes for the poor and the peasants.
Traveling tailors and capotades traveled back and forth from their birthplace to places where they could find work, in the villages of the Pindos mountain range. While traveling the tailors and capotades created special groups, small caravans, the so called professional tsourma (crew) or bouloukia (group) or parees (company). Their craft was their asset; they maintained their language and religion, because the conqueror needed them, needed their craft. They offered their goods at lower prices, were familiar with the markets abroad, and lived far from their homes for months at a time leaving protokalfades (first apprentice) behind in their workshops. They were the ones who sent them what they needed when they were away. They founded trade firms and became large businessmen.
The capotas abatzis or broutzas or kepetzis cut and sewed only coveralls, capes of domestic wool fabrics thick or soft, white or black fabrics with tassels or without. They ordered the various fabrics from the villages. Some capotades knew how to embroider as the best coveralls, especially the white ones, had embroidery on the seams. They sewed the flokates, worn in many areas on a daily basis, with the tassels on the inside and the tassels on the outside for the festive garments. Early on they developed into rich merchant-craftsmen and businessmen.
Their tools were scissors, iron rulers, an iron bench that kept the skouti stretched before sewing, needles, spanelia. A craftsman never began sewing on his own but with his assistant so that it did not come out crooked. They usually followed a regular traveling plan. Each went to specific areas and had specific clientele which was inherited from his father. Many tailors decided to live permanently in places where they had a lot of work, e.g. in Livadia the tailors were from Syrrako and Agnanta. The clients also had personal relationships with the tailors and did not change the tailor that had serviced their parents. The peasants always knew when the various traveling technicians would come. They lived in the homes where they sewed, they were taken care of. Tailors and capotades were also present at the trade fairs, where they closed deals for work, were usually paid in kind (wool, cheese, wheat, oil, corn, etc.).
All cities had guilds, the isnafia. The isnafia of the tailors and capotades always had a presence, and had the most members of craftsmen. They had close relationships between them. The children of the craftsmen became rightful members of the guild. In Ioannina the isnafi of the tailors had 150 members and corresponding workshops. In the 17th century the isnafi of the tailors was the most significant presence at the Ioannina trade fair. The isnafi of the capotades is the oldest in Ioannina, taking up an entire tsarsi or bezesteni (gallery with similar workshops) with approximately 150 cape workshops. The assistants also worked within these shops. The hierarchy of the guild is the craftsman at the top, kalfas the apprentice and the tsiraki the student. After certain years of apprenticeship one could advance.
In Ioannina in the period of the Ali Pasha there were 1200 needles working. Later on the art declines.
Another significant group of craftsmen were the terzides, who create their own decorative theme on clothing with silk cordon or string, or silver siriti. These were sewn on the clothing with a thin silk thread. The design was drawn on paper and then temporarily affixed to the clothing. The cordon or string was sewn according to the design. At their end they removed the paper. This art was called xrisokentitiki (gold-embroidery).
Up to the 18th century the gold-embroiderers were forced to immigrate and travel as domestic consumption did not require a large supply. The folk Greek attire was very simple and did not bear much décor. From the 18th century on they did not have to leave. The Greek attire is embellished with elaborate embroidery and so they find work at home, which causes the craft of gold-embroidery to flourish.
Similar work to that of the terzides was done by the syrmakesides but the cordons or siritia were sewn with gold threat. The design with the paper was sewn on the garment with various types of stitches. This technique was applied in the decoration of ecclesiastical fabrics. In secular art in Ipirus this technique is encountered in the adornment of pillows, quilts, clothing etc.
It must be cited that these techniques also present the same elements in the Albanian region and this because they have a common origin and were exercised by the same craftsmen due to the adjacency of Ipirus with Albania and the constant traveling of the professionals.