submitted by George Poulos on 15.05.2004
The Glory Box of Yesterday
Many traditions have been erased by the redefinition of female roles in modern society. Changes in these roles were slow in reaching Kythera, and even though village women were often the back-bone of the family, a woman wasn't ready for a marriage unless her 'prika'- glory box was complete.
Apart from all the responsibilities of sustaining a household, the baking of bread and presiding over thew cooking hearth, most women's daily duties included working in the fields, tending their domestic animals, planting and harvesting essential crops such as vegetables, wheat, cotton and flax to make linen. Yound women secured a minimal income working as maids, field hands, nursing elderly and incapacitated neighbours and selling produce at the pazari.
At the end of their long day, after the evening meal, their thoughts turned to their crotchet needles, weaving looms and the preparation of their glory boxes.
Born in 1910, Dimitra Fratzeskakis (nee, Zantiotis), clearly remembers the nights spent creating the precious contents of her glory box. "We would hand make everything needed to open a new household when we married. We would grow cotton and shear sheep for wool. After the lengthy preparation and colouring of the fibres, they were then spun and woven on looms. Blankets, floor rugs, donkey saddle blankets and bags, large slong bags, and in the event of pregnancy a baby sling was woven. A blanket would take up to a month from preparation to end."
Dimitra's favourite handicraft was crotchet. Gathered around the kitchen table, Dimitra and her three sisters would swap crotchet designs. Their speedy little fingers would create endless lace to adorn handmade pillow cases, underwear, blankets, night gowns, babywear, tablecloths and table linen.
Exquisite curtain designs were the source of rivalry as the competition to create the most beautiful and intricate patterns was fierce. These curtains which would just cover the small window panes of a traditional house were a source of pride, seeing that the light gave emphasis to the eactness of each stitch.
As each item was finished it was stored in the wooden 'kasella' (glory box), which was especially ordered from a local carpenter. The glory box symbolised the young woman's readiness for marriage, and her dream of opening up her own home and starting a family.
Teacher, journalist, poet and author, Sydney NSW Australia
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