Folk Culture

"Folk Culture" is a broad term covering a wide variety of activities that have formed and defined the Cypriot tradition´s character and identity. Specifically, one may refer to the material and immaterial culture based on accounts that have survived to this day. Folk culture has been testified within a variety of activities: traditional dance and folk music, embroidery, textile and silk production, architecture, woodcarving, basket weaving, pottery making, folk poetry, silversmithing and shadow theatre (Karagiozis). All the above comprise the core of Cypriot tradition and bear testimony of the inner world and character of the Cypriot people. One may witness some of the aforementioned arts across the island since they have become part of our everyday life and living tradition (e.g. music, dancing, some forms of traditional handmade material culture, folk poetry and so on).

The Cyprus Handicraft Service of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism produces and sells high quality samples of folk art whilst specialized workshops offer expertise in specific areas of traditional art and handicraft. At the same time help is given in specific areas of the island for the revival of their specialized local arts and handicrafts (e.g. lace making in Athienou, Kornos and Kilani areas, pottery in the villages of Kornos, Phini and Saint Demetrios and so on).

The Nicosia Ethnographic Museum displays an array of folk art and handicraft masterpieces from the whole of Cyprus covering an extended span of the island´s cultural heritage. Another very interesting collection is that of the local Geroskipou Folk Art Museum in Pafos.

Moreover, a large number of traditional music and dance groups contribute greatly in the conservation of Cypriot traditional music and dance through a series of performances in Cyprus and abroad and by organizing and attending seminars and international conventions.

In the area of academic research, both the Cyprus Research Centre and the Cultural Services of the Ministry of Education and Culture display a notable series of specialized publications covering an extended number of our cultural heritage, thus contributing both to the conservation and knowledge of the island´s traditional art and culture.

11.jpg Embroidery Art Weaving Shoe maker Traditional barrel piano (laterna) Flute maker ('Pithkiavli') Basketry Embroidery Art Potter Silversmith Folk Art Museum of Nicosia Folk Art Museum of Paphos



 "Tsiattista poetic dueling" constitutes an element of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity since 2011. They are poetic improvisations of a competitive character that is why they are also known by the name "tsiattista of fighting" (tsiattista tou paliomatou). The 'tsiattistaes' (people who compose tsiattista) are competing in making up two rhyminc couplets, in the Greek-Cypriot dialect, often using the iambic fifteen-syllable verse and are accompanied by music (violin-lute). Poetry contests of this kind usually take place during fairs, festivals and entertaining events, thus strengthening links between the participants and creating a vivid ambiance.

Tsiattista were diffused all around Cyprus, however they mostly flourished in the area of Kokkinochoria. The origins of the genre and competitions of poetic impromptus can be traced back to Homeric period. Later on (15th century hence), records from foreign and Cypriot sources refer to Cypriot peasants performing 'tsiattista' in gatherings and fairs. Nowadays competitions of "tsiattista poetic duelings" are organized by Larnaka Municipality, mainly during the annual festival of "Kataklysmos" but also in other occasions and regions of Cyprus. Sometimes the theme is pre-defined or distinct roles are given to the different 'tsiattistaes". The tsiattistaes are often judged directly by the audience, with criteria such as proximity, promptness of response, insight and humor. The ability to compose 'tsiattista' definitely requires talent, however equally important is practicing, enriching one's vocabulary from the Cypriot dialect, memorizing lyrics or pairs of words, being aware of current affairs and expanding one's general knowledge so that it can subsequently be introduced in a skillful manner in the composition of tsiattista. There is a variety of themes, depending on the circumstances and the people involved while the competition part is usually extended until one of the two 'tsiattistaes' reaches a blockage

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