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Home 01 March 2021
Culture Traditional forms of Art - Professions Wood sculpture Epirus Metsovo

Wood sculptured door 1250 AD, Kokkine Church at Bourgareli
(Photo: Orlando, op cit, p. 157-159)

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Geographic map of Ioannina Prefecture with the works of Metsovo and Tournovo wood sculptors
Geographic map of Ioannina Prefecture with the works of Metsovo and Tournovo wood sculptors

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Topics
made of stone
textliles
Silver work
Wood sculpture
Hagiography - Painting
LOCATION
Epirus
Gorgopotamos
Metsovo
Wood sculpture: Subtopics All topics
Representative works
Wood sculpture of Metsovo
Wood sculpture of Gorgopotamos

14/11/2006
Myths and traditions that have developed around the name of certain wood sculptors and their art

Triantaphyllos Sioulis

© Prefecture of Ioannina
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On many occasions certain «myths» also developed around the life of the renowned master taliadoroi. These are mainly concerned with their passion for the work, their excellent knowledge, their talent and their artistry.
In relation to the iconostasis at the catholicon at the Monastery of the Prophet Elias at Parnassus (1834 – 1836) and its creator the following tradition has survived: «WHEN THE CRAFTSMAN OF THE ICONOSTASIS ARRIVED AT THE MONASTERY TO CONSTRUCT IT, HE HAD A DISPUTE WITH THE COUNCIL OF ABBOTS ON HIS REMUNERATION AND HE DEPARTED. ON LEAVING THE MONASTERY THERE APPEARED BEFORE HIM A VENERABLE MONK WITH A WHITE BEARD (THE PROPHET ELIAS) WHO ASKED HIM WHY HE HAD NOT UNDERTAKEN THE WORK. WHEN THE CRAFTSMAN MENTIONED THE REASON HE WAS CONVINCED BY THE MONK TO RETURN TO THE MONASTERY AND TO UNDERTAKE THE WORK AND THEN HE SUDDENLY VANISHED. INDEED THE CRAFTSMAN FOLLOWED HIS ADVICE AND PRODUCED HIS MASTERPIECE».
Specifically in relation to Panaghiotis Bimbos the wood sculptor and his great passion for this art, which he served even when he was ill as a very old age, who despite the doctor’s advice to withdraw, circa 1923, he «CARVED AND CARESSED THE WOOD SAYING, ‘‘THE GRIM REAPER MUST COME HERE TO FIND ME’’. HE SAID AND HE DID IT …HE COLLAPSED, CLUTCHING THE CHISEL IN HIS HANDS. HE JUST HAD TIME TO TELL THE APPRENTICES WHO WERE ACCOMPANYING HIM, ‘‘MY CHILDREN, YOU SHOULD BELIEVE IN GOD AND LOVE THE ART’’».
In relation to another legendary figure in this art, Gavobasilis from Moschopolis was reputed to have worked day and night (1st half of the 18th century) and when he was tired he would sleep we would leave the chisel upon the wood and «A HEAVENLY ANGEL WOULD DESCEND FROM THE HEAVEN AND THE DIVINE PALACES TO CONTINUE THE WORK. ACCORDINGLY, THE WORK BY THE SELF TAUGHT WOOD SCULPTOR GAVOBASILIS WITH STRENGTH AND FAITH AS WELL AS WITH GOD SENT ANGELIC INTERVENTION ACQUIRED NOT ONLY A SELECT HUMAN STRUCTURE BUT ALSO AN ANGELIC GRACE AND PROJECTION». Bearing all this in mind, the writer and demoticist Vlatsiotis Thanasis Tziouvaras has transferred them to the beginning of his rare book «Religious Treasures» that was first published in Bucharest of Rumania in 1853 as follows: «OH PILGRIM, OH TOWN CRIER, PUT ON YOUR WINGS AND FLY HIGH UP INTO THE MOUNTAINS OF BLASTE, TO AGHIOS NIKOLAS! KNEEL; ADMIRE WITH DEVOUTNESS AND FAITH THE ICONOSTASIS THAT HAS BEEN CARVED BY AN ANGEL, THOSE DIVINELY DRAWN ICONS...».
A similar «myth» has also grown around the person of the legendary Metsovo wood sculptor Anastasios Moschos and the iconostasis at the church of Aghios Nikolaos that was created at Galaxeidi in 1848. «ACCORDING TO LOCAL TRADITION REGARDING THE CRAFTSMAN OF THE ICONOSTASIS:...FOR HOURS, DAYS, MONTHS AND ENTIRE YEARS HE CARVED THE WALNUT TIMBER FOR THE ICONOSTASIS FROM MORNING TO NIGHT; HE CREATED SCENES FROM THE OLD AND THE NEW TESTAMENT. WHEN DARKNESS WOULD ARRIVE AND THEY WOULD LIGHT THE OIL LAMPS IN THE CHURCH, HE WOULD SIT FOR A WHILE ON THE PEW OR ON THE STONE BENCH IN CONTEMPLATION. IT WAS AS IF HE WAS IMMERSED IN A DREAM. THEN HE WOULD GO DOWN TO A TAVERN TO HAVE HIS MEAL AND HIS PITCHER OF LOCAL WINE...IN THE LATER YEARS – THEY SAY THAT IT TOOK HIM TEN YEARS TO COMPLETE IT – HE BEGAN TO FEAR THAT HE MAY NOT HAVE THE TIME TO COMPLETE THE WORK. THE MANY HOURS OF WORK HAD CLOUDED HIS EYES. ‘‘HE WOULD CONSTANTLY SAY, GIVE ME TIME TO FINISH THE WORK. THAT IS ALL THAT I AM CONTEMPLATING. MAY GOD AND ST. NIKOLAS GIVE ME TIME TO FINISH AND THEN I SHALL CLOSE MY EYES’’...‘‘GLORY IS TO GOD FOR STILL GIVING ME THE COURAGE. I AM LOST IN MY CARVING. AS I AM CARVING THE FACE OF CHRIST AND OF THE SAINTS, MY WHOLE BODY BREAKS OUT IN GOOSE BUMPS FROM THE EMOTION. I FEEL AS IF I AM SPEAKING WITH GOD AND MY SOUL IS AT EASE. IF I DID NOT HAVE MY FAITH AND THE ART I WOULD HAVE BEEN A SPENT PERSON. BUT NOW I KNOW FULLY WELL THAT I AM NOT’’...DURING THE LAST DAYS WHEN HE WAS MAKING SOME MINOR ADDITIONS, HE WITHDREW MORE INTO HIMSELF. HE HAD STOPPED GOING TO THE TAVERN. MOST OF THE PEOPLE WERE CONCERNED, BUT FELT THAT HIS BAD MOOD WOULD PASS. AND WHEN ONE DAY HE WAS FOUND FATALLY INJURED ON THE PAVEMENT, NO ONE COULD SOLVE THE MYSTERY, WHETHER HE HAD FALLEN ON PURPOSE FROM THE SCAFFOLDING OR WHETHER HE HAD SLIPPED. SOME EVEN SUSPECTED HIS ASSISTANT, WHO HAD SUPPOSEDLY BEEN ENVIOUS OF HIS ART AND HAD PUSHED HIM OFF THE SCAFFOLD. NOTHING CAME OF THESE SUSPICIONS. SOME SAID THAT SINCE HE HAD COMPLETED HIS WORK, AS HE WAS SITTING AND LOOKING AT IT, HE FORGOT HIMSELF, SLIPPED AND SUDDENLY FELL DEAD ON THE FLOOR». According to history Anastasis Moschos died calmly, satisfied with the art that he had left behind, at Metsovo, at a very old age. «AFTER THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE ICONOSTASIS AT THE CATHOLICON FOR THE MONASTERY OF THE PROPHET ELIAS AT PARNASSUS ANASTASIOS MOSCHOS CONSTRUCTED THE ICONOSTASIS AT AETOLIKON (PLATARIS HAS NOT SPECIFIED WHICH) AND THEN RETURNED TO MACEDONIA TO CONSTRUCT THE ICONOSTASES AT MOLOVISTA, AT OCHRIDA AND AT KROUSOVO. AFTER THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE ICONOSTASIS AT AGHIOS NIKOLAOS IN GALAXIDI HE WENT TO BUCHAREST (1857) AND IN 1863 HE WAS IN METSOVO WHERE HE DIED IN 1868 AT THE AGE OF APPROXIMATELY 90 YEARS».