Friday, December 6, 2013

Museum at Tsamantas

Close to the Albanian border in the northern mountains of Greece, there is a small museum in the charming village of Tsamantas. We had the pleasant experience of visiting it one warm summer day in the late 1990s.

The old Eprius way of life is displayed throughout the small building among numerous items from the past.  Many of these items are actually still part of our lives both in the U.S. and in our Greek home of Margariti, much as they are for many other Greek families around the world. For example, there are traditional clothing displays.

These are quite familiar as similar costumes have been worn during Greek School ceremonies or while walking in the Greek Parades in Manhattan or during International Day celebrations at a variety of schools.

In addition to the actual clothing, there are also accessories displayed in the museum cases. Upon returning to Margariti, after our visit to the museum, we were discussing with Chevi, my mother-in-law, what we had seen. She became very excited as she relayed memories of her younger years. In an instant, she disappeared to retrieve some of these dress accessories. She wanted us to have them. One was an ornate apparatus of chains and clasps for holding a vest together, while the other was a cross on a chain, worn as a necklace. When she returned from retrieving them she was a bit disheartened to find that many were missing, and those that remained behind were either broken or disfigured from someone having pried the jewels from the settings. In the picture below you can see where the cross once had stones embedded in it.  

We didn't care. We were thrilled to get them in any condition.  A window to the past, to history, to Chevi's life as a young woman! And our reaction seemed to please her. 

The museum of Tsamantas also has the traditional weaver and a baby cradle.  We were familiar with those also because yiayia and papou had similar items back at the house in Margariti. In fact, we had seen Chevi use her own weaver to change the sheep wool into solid cloth. She actually gave one gigantic lead-weight blanket to Nick and me for a wedding gift. She'd heard that New York got very cold in the winter, sometimes with several feet of snow and she worried that we would need something to keep warm.

The proprietor of the Tsmantas museum was so excited to have us there and to show us around. He was very knowledgeable about each item and was more than happy to answer our questions. I'm sure his position there was a labor of love.

Not long ago, Margariti opened her own museum.  It has some of the same items we saw in Tsamantas and many more. The Margariti Museum is housed inside a refurbished traditional home in the heart of the Margariti village.  If you ever get a chance, you should visit it.  It's a worthwhile experience.


  1. sensational reading! I learn and love it, just gobble up the words and you describe it so well.