RETHYMNO (Prefecture) CRETE
Remains of the Minoan civilisation, or at least those artefacts,which the archaeological pickaxe has been able to bring to light and which could be preserved, give the most important evidence of the dextrously produced pieces of handicraft, which the Cretans have accomplished and improved since prehistoric times. Traditional techniques and the feeling for aesthetic creation, which have been developed by their ancestors, are flourishing mainly in the villages up to the present day, resulting in pieces of folklore art of amazing quality. In Rethymno a wide variety of handicrafts such as pottery, basket weaving, woodcarving, stone masonry and of course weaving have been kept alive. Sometimes entire villages are occupied with a particular handicraft, which helps to support their income.
Thus, in the village of Margarites (province of Mylopotamos) most of the inhabitants are mainly occupied with the art of pottery. They produce both objects for decoration and everyday use. On a similar line in the village of Alfa the art of traditional stone masonry is still flourishing, due to the beautiful white and relatively soft stone, which is quarried in the area. Since ancient times it has been used as building material, as it offers structural and decorative solutions in architecture. The traditional art of weaving, embroidering and crocheting is still flourishing in the mountain villages of the province of Mylopotamos, in the villages of Anoghia, Zoniana and Livadia as well as in the entire prefecture. Women mainly accomplish these arts in their spare time.
The techniques are passed on from mother to daughter, while the dowry is prepared, that is the girl's entire outfit of clothing and linen, which she takes away with her on the day of her wedding. The traditional materials used for weaving include wool, cotton, flax and silk, which the women themselves process, transform into yarn and then use on the loom. Up to today they often use natural colours from plants and wild flowers to dye the yarn.
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