Embroidery is one of the most important types of folk art in Cyprus. It is used to decorate fabrics and is achieved by using the needle. Passing through the filter of the traditions and morphological characteristics of each region, it evolves into local peculiarities and techniques, creating unique works of art that seal one of the “facets” of the history of textiles.
Chronologically, it is not known when this species first appeared in Cyprus. Foreign researchers find, however, that the first examples that survived are works that come from the area of the eastern Mediterranean. Sewing needles and flywheels have been identified from prehistoric times on the island. Representations on vases and terracottas, which are exhibited in many Cypriot museums, demonstrate that the decoration of textiles was known from ancient times. Historical information testifies that during the Byzantine era the art of embroidery was used to decorate elaborate embroideries, dresses and robes. It was also known for its silk and gold thread, ‘Or De Chypre’, which gave it luxury and grandeur. Foreign travelers who visited the island during the 16th century got to know and wrote, among other things, for the elaborate works of art from Cypriot embroidery. However, the oldest examples found in private collections and museums are those of the 18th and 19th centuries.
The textile art in Cyprus has been known since ancient times. But the great heyday of Cypriot weaving, according to written testimonies, was during the Middle Ages, especially during the time of the Lusignan kings.
Famagusta and Nicosia were for three centuries the largest centers of production of textiles on the island such as the very expensive camelotas, fine woolen fabrics in red or off-white, suitable for men’s clothing in the West. During the Turkish rule, Cyprus fell into withering and so instead of exporting textiles, raw materials such as silk, cotton and wool are exported.
From the great heyday of the weaving art, the loom with its accessories survived with few modifications until the first decades of the previous century. In Mesaoria, the “boufa” was known, consisting of four poles fixed to the floor and the warp suspended from the ceiling, while the weaver wove sitting in a dug “pit”.
Well-known are the “Lefkonoitian textiles” that were woven with joy and passion by the goldsmith weavers of Lefkonikos, but also all the textiles that were woven in the surrounding villages.
In all other areas of Cyprus, the “arkastiri”, a mobile horizontal loom with minor modifications prevailed in the highlands and in the Paphos region. The weaver has her seat and the work becomes more relaxing. All the women had a loom at home and wove day and night the dowries and all the necessities of their family.
In addition to the colored striped fabrics, the “leukoinijatika” already mentioned with their intense colors, there were the fabrics of Karpasia, the purple red or the well-known “white feathers wit In addition, in the region of Morphou, especially in Zodia, the weaving of linen prevailed for the manufacture of sacks or for the manufacture of Leukarite embroidery.
In the communities of Lapithos and Karavas in the province of Kyrenia, sericulture and silk-weaving developed, which is why we have the silk and hooded fabrics and the “dimita” for men’s festive clothing.
Also in the mountainous areas of Nicosia and Limassol, the male “sackades” made carpets and coverings, bisatsia, while in the city of Nicosia, spider silks, “taistas” and “itaredes” stand out for girls’ dowries.
Finally, in the Paphos region, the “Phytio” woven fabrics from the village of Phyti are well known. They are characterized by colorful embroidery “the plumia”.
The Cypriot Handicraft Service, through its programs and activities, has created the right conditions for the rescue and revival of the Textile Art. Today it is able to produce excellent quality textile products for locals and foreigners. Through the production workshops, it provides equipment, raw materials, designs, technical assistance from the experienced hands of specialized personnel with long experience in the field of Textiles. Also for the information of the public it offers work to self-employed craftsmen at home on the same terms and offers labor depending on the work carried out. Today, through European programs, new conditions are created with the aim of reviving this art.
. Textiles of Lefkonikou
. White feathers
. Marathassa textiles / bags.
. Phytis fabrics.
Cyprus, the third largest island in the Mediterranean, geographically located in the Eastern Mediterranean, was in ancient times an important commercial and naval station, a meeting place of great civilizations, a bridge between East and West. Peculiar circumstances, historical, social and economic contributed to the creation of a distinct culture. The movement of products, trade and communication between peoples contributed to the movement not only of people and products but also to the exchange of ideas. Naturally, these constant influences undoubtedly affected the arts as well. The contacts were continuous and the stimuli many. The Cypriot craftsman with the skills of an experienced creator, chose what was necessary for him, what inspired him, what was useful to him and expressed it in his own often unique way.
In the field of pottery art, prehistoric Cyprus has rich finds from all over the island, vessels of great fame and esteem. Over time it has been one of the most characteristic types of Cypriot art. The vessels themselves are proof of their evolution. Archaeologists have used this wealth of pottery tradition to determine the spiritual evolution and progress of the island over time.
There is no doubt that some shapes of vessels still made on the island have evolved from old vessels and that in many cases the technique is the same as in the olden days. According to scientific studies, large jars from the late Bronze Age were used not only for storing and transporting products but also for conducting trade