Chatting and embroidering in the narrow streets of Athienou

Noni Papasianti
Community engagement, Education, Cross-frontier collaboration, Youth oriented
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The stories of lace unravel through oral testimonies bringing buck to life the era of their flourishing in the first half of the 20th century. Every day the women used to sit in the narrow streets of Athienou Cyprus, gathering for as long as there was light, chatting and embroidering. Embroidering being a piece of art and a means of income, was also an excuse for women to gather, chat, communicate and support one another.

The stories of lace unravel through oral testimonies bringing back to life the era of their flourishing circa the first half of the 20th century.  At the end of a hardworking day, the women of Athienou would sit to rest with a needle and cotton thread in their hands and a hard handmade cushion on their lap.
During the day they would gather in the narrow streets under the shade of big trees and at night around the oil lamp.  Chatting away they would create the elaborate lace known as Venice or pitottes and the oloploumes (made entirely of lace without linen cloth) lace of Athienou.
Their possible origin dates back to the 16th century and the influences of the reticella lace of the Venetian nobility who lived in various places in Cyprus at the time.  Towards the end of the 19th century and in the 20th century they evolved into a kind of dowry item and mainly a commodity by the Athienou and Lefkara lace-merchants.

European Dimension

As it was mentioned above, lace travel led from Venice and the Greek Islands to Cyprus and from Cyprus it traveled as a commodity to various European countries. The lace merchants were the links between the European countries and Cyprus and in this way embroidery was spread around.

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