Daily Archives: July 28, 2019

Cypriot History – Leontios Machairas

Leontios Machairas or Makhairas (Greek: Λεόντιος Μαχαιράς, French: Léonce Machéras; about 1380-after 1432) was a historian in medieval Cyprus.

The main source of information on him is his chronicle, written in the medieval Cypriot dialect. The chronicle documents events from the visit of Saint Helena to Cyprus until the times of the Kingdom of Cyprus. Machairas was Orthodox Christian but wrote with respect for the pope and the Catholic ruling class of Cyprus for whom he was working. He is the only source on “Re Alexis” rebellion of Cypriot serfs, which he condemned. Following usual Byzantine practice, he only used the word “basileus” (Greek for sovereign) for the Byzantine emperor at Constantinople, and referred to the king of Cyprus as “regas” (from Latin rex king). Machairas was also present at the Battle of Choirokoitia. The text as we have it became abbreviated after 1432, and historians believe the remainder of the text is a subsequent accretion.

There are manuscripts of the Chronicle at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, the Biblioteca Marciana in Venice, and Ravenna. The Oxford manuscript was copied in Paphos in June 1555, according to an additional paragraph after the end of the chronicle. The chronicle was published by Konstantinos Sathas as part of his Medieval Library in Venice in 1873. The chronicles of Cyprus by Francesco Amadi and Diomede Strambaldi published by Rene de Mas Latrie in Paris in 1891 were translations of Machairas’s chronicle into Italian.

The chronicle was published again by Richard M. Dawkins with an English translation as “Recital Concerning the Sweet Land of Cyprus Entitled ‘Chronicle’– The chronicle of Makhairas” in Oxford in 1932. The Ravenna manuscript has not yet been incorporated into a critical edition.

The main source of information on him is his chronicle, written in the medieval Cypriot dialect. The chronicle documents events from the visit of Saint Helena to Cyprus until the times of the Kingdom of Cyprus. Machairas was Orthodox Christian but wrote with respect for the pope and the Catholic ruling class of Cyprus for whom he was working. He is the only source on “Re Alexis” rebellion of Cypriot serfs, which he condemned. Following usual Byzantine practice, he only used the word “basileus” (Greek for sovereign) for the Byzantine emperor at Constantinople, and referred to the king of Cyprus as “regas” (from Latin rex king). Machairas was also present at the Battle of Choirokoitia. The text as we have it became abbreviated after 1432, and historians believe the remainder of the text is a subsequent accretion.

There are manuscripts of the Chronicle at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, the Biblioteca Marciana in Venice, and Ravenna. The Oxford manuscript was copied in Paphos in June 1555, according to an additional paragraph after the end of the chronicle. The chronicle was published by Konstantinos Sathas as part of his Medieval Library in Venice in 1873. The chronicles of Cyprus by Francesco Amadi and Diomede Strambaldi published by Rene de Mas Latrie in Paris in 1891 were translations of Machairas’s chronicle into Italian.

The chronicle was published again by Richard M. Dawkins with an English translation as “Recital Concerning the Sweet Land of Cyprus Entitled ‘Chronicle’– The chronicle of Makhairas” in Oxford in 1932. The Ravenna manuscript has not yet been incorporated into a critical edition.

I am still researching this man, if you have any further information about him, please feel free to contact me….thank you.

Portrait of a Cypriot village – Lefkara

Lefkara is where the Cypriot folk needlecraft art is born – the famous “lefkaritiko” – which the reputation of has gone beyond the frontiers of Cyprus and has become known in most of the European countries but not only there.
Lefkara owes its welfare and prosperity as always spotted to this needlecraft art and to its trade launched in the late 19th century, flourishing during the 20th century first thirty years.
GEOGRAPHICAL POSITION – CLIMATE – POPULATION
The village is situated at the foot of the Troodos Mountains in the south eastern region, 650m above sea level, 45 km from Nicosia, 30 km from the Larnaca airport and just 12 km from the Nicosia – Limassol highway. It is not really far from the sea, yet, it is located high enough for the moist air coming in from the sea to get dry by the time it reaches the village. Therefore, Lefkara becomes an excellent destination during summer time because of the relatively low humidity from May to October and also the mild temperatures in the region.
Today, the population of the village, which in the post-second-world period exceeded 2500 inhabitants, is not more than 1000 inhabitants amongst whom there are many expacts, because of emigration and rural-urban migration. A significant number of locals have been living in New York, London, South Africa and even Australia. The name of Lefkara village derives from the colour of the surrounding calcareous rocks: “White rocks = Lefkara”. Considering the archaeological findings, the Lefkara region has most probably been inhabited for centuries. Though there is not any relevant evidence, the settlement is likely to have progressively been established and has developed reaching its current status during the Arab raids between the 7th and 9th century A.D.
The inhabitants of the island were forced by the situation due to the raids to move from the coastal areas where they were living in this period to the inland ones, looking for safer places to settle. However, the very first written historical statement about Lefkara is brought out in Cypriot big type letters: Saint Neophytos the Recluse, who was born in Lefkara in 1134, according to the information provided by him.
During the occupation period by the Franks, Lefkara became the see of the Greek Orthodox Bishop of Limassol, Amathus and Curium and was one of the four Orthodox Bishops’ sees. This occurred following a papal decision according to which the Cyprus Church administration should be placed under the jurisdiction of the Latin Archbishop resulting to the Greek Orthodox Bishops being forced to abandon their sees in the cities and settle in the rural areas.
Later Lefkara during the occupation period by the Venetians (1489 – 1570 A.D.) is referred to as a summer resort for the Venetian nobles and their families. According to some researchers, the Lefkara needlecraft known as “lefkaritiko” goes back to this period and the nobles’ wives influenced to some extent the technique used by the Lefkara women. Furthermore, it is said that Leonardo da Vinci, the big Renaissance artist visited Cyprus in the late 16th century as a guest of Catherine Cornaro – Queen of Cyprus. He then visited Lefkara and bought a big tablecloth embroidered on all sides, which was donated to the Milan Cathedral.
In 1570 the Turks conquered Cyprus and according to historical sources of the western world, Lefkara made its submission to the Turks and obtained some prerogatives. Yet according to more recent data contained in the folk poem “The Lament of Cyprus” a totally different version is provided, giving evidence of the large village where civilians arrived to save themselves, ending up in being the first victim of the Ottoman incursions.
Therefore, the village was ransacked and its population was massacred. A further significant event likely to have occurred during that period is the small surrounding settlements being abandoned for safety reasons and the fact that their population moved to the main Lefkara settlement. Some years later, the British colonization occurred in 1878 and namely in 1883 Lefkara and Morphou were declared the first rural municipalities in Cyprus. A Town Hall becoming operational there has been a determining fact for the further development of this large village, contributing drastically in its progress and its inhabitants’ welfare. Then a number of regulations were enacted, setting in order so many things in the large village.
An abattoir, a municipal market with a distinct butcher’s shop and a pig meat shop were established. Street lamps were installed to enhance local electrification. A group of experts in street lamps lighting and road sweepers were appointed. The problem of water scarcity is dealt with, whereas in 1934 an electric generator was installed in Lefkara to supply all houses with electricity resulting from an agreement co-signed by the Municipality and a private company. In 1938 a telephone line connecting Lefkara with Larnaca was installed.

Portrait of a Cypriot Village – Koilani

Among Krasochoria in Limassol, Koilani is one of the most famous, with a rich, long historical tradition and cultural heritage. It is built in the eastern part of Afamis and its vineyards cover a vast area, lying adjacent to Omodos, Madria, Pera Pedi, Sylikou, Lofou and Vouni. There are remnants and place names from ancient times in the village. It is an Arcadian colony, which is attested to by many place names. The name “Koilani” comes from Kyllini in the Peloponnese, Mount Afamis from Euphemus Zeus in Arcadia, as well as Kremmos of Goddess Ira.
There were found several tombs with Roman pots. There are also remnants from the Early Christian Times, the Frankish Period, the Turkish Occupation, and of course our island’s recent history. According to Dean Kyprianos, author of “The Chronological History of the Island of Cyprus,” who came from Koilani, at the time of the Turkish Occupation, the village used to have about a thousand houses, was granted permission to produce and process silk, and it paid–along with other villages–a special tax for the army. There are also mentioned its products: grapes, wine, fruit and vegetables, just like today. It also boasted lowland products, coming from the fields in Paramali. Koilani was the capital of the prefecture of Koilanion, one of the sixteen administrative peripheries into which the Turks divided Cyprus for administrative and tax purposes. It held the same position during the Frankish Occupation, which it kept during the British Period up until the ‘40s.
During the British Occupation, Koilani was an administrative centre with a Register, Court, Police Station, Medical Centre, and a Post Office. It also boasted a number of small industries and labs, such as blacksmith’s shops, shoemaker’s shops and carpenter’s shops. At home, women had silkworms, produced silk, wove and manufactured handkerchiefs, breeches and belts. They also embroidered pipilla, crochet, lefkaritika, and many more. Their textiles were exquisite, and they also made the noted eftaliotika handkerchiefs.
Down, in the verdant valley, the River Kryos peacefully flows, irrigating the gardens full of apple trees, pear trees and other fruitful trees.
In older times, the river waters turned the flourmills, which constituted an important part of the village’s trade. People used to come from the surrounding villages to have their wheat ground and shop, or even make transactions at the governmental offices. All this attracted people from the surrounding villages and brought liveliness and mobility.
Justifiably, Koilani was the name of the village capital of Krasochoria and Koilanion Prefecture. Up until 1946, the village had a population of 1,300 Greek and 85 Muslim inhabitants. The Muslims had their mosque and a muezzin, as well as a school with 2 teachers. The mosque used to be a Christian temple of Aghia Sophia. Our primary school had 230 students and 5 teachers back in 1946. The social phenomenon of urbanisation from the ‘50s, which still goes on today, literally evacuated the village. Seldom are there any weddings held, while our primary school has been left with two, at times one, teachers. Nowadays, it does not operate.
The two churches of the village, the one dedicated to Holy Mary (Panaghia) and the other to the Only Begotten Son of God (Monoghenis), with the two priests each, nowadays operate in turn, for there are a few people and there is only one priest. We nostalgically reminisce about life in the village, back in those hard but beloved years, when toil and hard work took the sting out of any human impiety and selfishness. Human relations were cordial, entertainment was a match for the masses’ happiness, and pain was common ground.
Despite its desolation, the village still maintains most of its former characteristics. Up until now, it has retained its traditional architecture, since new houses are rarely built. Its characteristic style includes its narrow, uphill alleys, with many impasses. In addition, high walls with gates, arched, vaulted or rectangular, lie imposing, shutting small yards away from prying eyes. It is evident that family asylum was of utmost importance and was highly protected.
The whole village is densely built, literally squeezed into whole blocks with terraced houses, adjacent to each other. Decades ago, housewives used to whitewash their walls, adding the noted blue (loulaki), which gave a bright blue hue. The women of Koilani are characterised by neatness, industriousness and prudence. They work in the vineyards, in the home, while in earlier times they used to weave and knit the noted pipilla or the crochet of smilios, and many more. Today, the ones left behind continue with the same deftness all the traditional works, such as the needlecraft, the rusks, glytzista, and keep our folklore tradition.
Men are equally hardworking and neat. Deep inside of them, there is unique love for progress and diligence, which positively contributed to Koilani’s having so many successful inhabitants, who nowadays comprise the Cypriot society. It is noteworthy that this tradition has deep roots. Koilani is the birthplace of Dean Kyprianos, the 18th century enlightened scholar who wrote “The Chronological History of the Island of Cyprus,” as well as Archbishop Paisios.
Their oblations bear testament to their love for their village. An epitaph offered by Dean Kyprianos and vestments by Archbishop Paisios are still with us in the Holy Temple of the Only Son (Monoghenis). Besides, Koilani is the birthplace of Scholar Leontios Efstratios, Anthemios Patriarch of Antiochia, Ecumenical Patriarch Gerasimos Kassavetis and Metropolitan of Dimitrias, Athanasios Kassavetis. Teacher Constantinos Michaelidis (Koilaniefs) fought and got killed in Kilkis in 1912, during the Balkan Wars. Maintaining its old architecture, its inhabitants’ traditional pastimes, with all those tools and utensils of viticulture and the processing of grapes, the village could be said to constitute in itself a Museum, where tradition is kept immutable and long-established works are effortlessly adjusted to new conditions.
Wandering around the village, the visitor gets a feel for times past and lives the peace of another era. In Koilani’s two museums, the Ecclesiastical and the Viticultural one, there remain notable samples of our ecclesiastical tradition and folk art. Apart from the two churches, the village boasts many chapels. The most noted one is that dedicated to Saint Mavri (Aghia Mavri), with significant murals and unusual architecture, under the huge plane tree in a majestic environment. The Association of Koilanians, from the very first years of its foundation, in collaboration with the Community Council, endeavours to revive the village, while maintaining its characteristics.
In this vein, the Association helped build two museums and restore the olive mill, while the Department of Antiquities maintained the little church of Aghia Mavri and the Only Begotten Son of God, made cobbled paths, and many more. Besides, there has been an attempt to bring life and mobility to the village, while offering Koilanian emigrants and friends the opportunity to get together. In this framework, Afamia, Palouze’s celebration, is held at the first weekend of October.
Afamia had already become an institution. Against a beautiful, autumn backdrop, where aromas of grapes and must waft in the air, Koilani celebrates its most exquisite event and invites everyone to join in. It invites them to enjoy a great artistic programme, try the Koilanian palouze, walk along the village’s roads and alleys, visit its museums, churches, school, police station, where painting and photography exhibitions are hosted, and buy products from their source: rusks, soutsouko, nuts, molasse (epsima), raisins, and many more. It also celebrates the opening of the jars (Pithoigia) in November. The village and Aghia Mavri also boast five wineries and several cafe-restaurants.
Koilani is waitng for you to pay a visit.

Portrait of a Cypriot village – Kokkinotrimithia

Kokkinotrimithia is a village in the Nicosia district in Cyprus and it is about 11 kilometres from the city of Nicosia. According to the inventory in 2011 it had 4.077 residents. It borders with Mammary which is at the north of the village, the Paleometocho which is at the south and Akaki which is to the east. The residential area of Kokkinotrimithia is divided into three zones, A and B communities and the central village. Also Kokkinotrimithia is the industrial area of the capital.
The population of Kokkinotrimithia is 5000 residents according to the inventory in 2013. History Kokkinotrimithia appeared on the Venetian maps as Tremitousa and according to Voustronius, is was given to Belaraz during the 14th century. According to the same historian during 1464-1468 it was given to the Venetian Louka Bragdine. However the history of Kokkinotrimithia becomes lost in the depth of history until the Age of the copper.
The village became well known was a prison camp where thousands of Greek-Cypriots were taken prisoners during the freedom war of EOKA 1955-1959. The prison camp was built by the English so that the political prisoners would be held there. It is located about 2km from the village and it operated during the end of 1955 until the beginning of 1959.
The camp is made up of many tall rows of wire, with wooden towers for the guards. After the Turkish invasion in 1974, the village had many refugees which increased the population and extended the residential area with the two refugee communities. To the north of Kokinotrimithia is the building of the Police Station which originally was a train station which operated in Cyprus during the first half of the 20th century. Architecture The centre of the community exhibits very nice samples of the local architecture.
Kokkinotrimithia has a total of five churches, four which have an interested due to their antiquity. In the centre there is the church of the Virgin Mary which is dated back to 1905. A little further there is a beautiful chapel of Saint George , which seems to be built on the ruins of an older church built during the 11th or 12th century and is a true gem for the community.
At the old cemetery there is an old church of the Archangel Michael which was built during the 16th century. The community churches The church of Entry of the Virgin Mary It is located between two churches, Archangel Michel and Saint George and it is devoted to the entry of the Virgin Mary.
According to witnesses, they began building the church in 1900 and it was completed in 1906. The church is built with stone and is celebrated on the 21st of November every year. The church of Archangel Michael It is the most ancient church in the village and the exact date which it was built is unknown.
In historical books it is mentioned as the 16th century and in others in the 17th century. From the description of the church it is definite that it was completed by 1615. According to witnesses, this small chapel seems to be a chapel of the medieval feud because it is known even today as being Venetian.
To the right of the church there is a mural of Archangel Michael in very bad condition. The surrounding area of the church is used as a cemetery. The church of Saint George According to tradition the four churches in the village form a cross and that is why the fifth one was built later on. One of these churches is that of Saint George. It was built in the area which were the ruins of an older church and the residents lit candles to honour Saint George.
The builders managed to preserve some of the parts of the first chapel and it was rebuilt in 1989. At the church courtyard there is a monument in honour of the fallen and missing persons from the 1974 war. The church of Saint Mamandos It is located at the west of the village, in the area of Petrakoura. It was built a little while after the invasion at the first refugee community.
The church is about 6×14 metres. It is dedicated to Saint Mama the Saint of the Akrites to remind everyone the town of Saint Mamantos, Morfou and the neighbouring villages. The church is celebrated on the 2nd of September. The church of Apostle Varnavas Besides the ancient churches which are in the village, there is also a new one built during the last few years, dedicated to Apostle Varnavas the founder and protector of the church of Cyprus. This church operated for the first time during Christmas in 2005. It is the largest and most impressive church in the community. Education In the community there is a community kindergarten which existed since 1982 and during the year 2007-2008 the new public kindergarten operated as well.
The village of Kokkinotrimithia has two primary schools. The A ‘Primary school has operated since 1883 and the B’ Primary School since 1994-1995. It also has a regional gymnasium which operated in 2002. The M.Koutsofta and A.Panagidi Lyceum is also at the borders of the village and is in the Kokkinotrimithia region.