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Traditional trades

In older times, the inhabitants of Kakopetria used to have more than one jobs. The professions that have survived to our days are: the builder, the carpenter, the shepherd, the lumberjack, the silk maker and the saddler. The cultivation of the land was not included in the occupations of the inhabitants because the morphology of the ground did not need it.

The most profitable professions of these were the one of the silk maker and of the saddler. The first one manufactured silk and the second made the “dresses of the horses and donkeys”. These two professions were very popular in Kakopetria, as they were used as surnames in many circumstances.

The silk industry was familiar to the inhabitants of the island since the Byzantine era. In Kakopetria the manufacture of silk did not stop even during the Turkish occupation, from the late 16th century to the 19th century.

Athanasios Papadopoulos claims that the blossom of the silk-industry was realized due to an inhabitant of Kakopetria Hadjisavvas Hadjiyiannis. In 1865 Hadjiyiannis, when he was in Ktima, found out that there was an Armenian silk maker in the village who produced silk with a new technique. The Armenian man would not tell anyone about his innovative technique and Hadjiyiannis decided to pay a man in order to go in the lab of the Armenian man and copy his technique. He also asked him to make a hole on the wall, so that he could watch him while he was producing the silk. The new technique was nothing more that “doulappi” which was a tool where the silk was wrapped. The man who went in the lab of the Armenian man, measured the “doulappi” and made the same one for Hadjiyiannis.

When Hadjiyiannis went back to his village and he told to his co-villagers about the new technique. Because of the efficiency of this technique the 8/10 of the population of the village became silk makers since the late 19th century.

In the mid of the 20th century, during the Second World War, the English government that run the island, asked the inhabitants of Kakopetria to produce silk. The silk was sent to London and it was used for the production of parachutes which were used for the military equipment of the English army.

The silk maker boiled the cocoons and elaborated the silk. In order to elaborate the cocoon he had to make a handmade device. The first step was the manufacture of the “nistia” which was a small kiln, where he put a small pot, called “leni”. The diameter of this pot was 2,5X8 inches. Then, he adjusted the “doulappi” on two small pegs. Another part of the device was the mill with the “diazidin” which is a small piece of wood. Its length is 3,5 feet and its width 2 inches. The mill had four sticks, called “katsounia” where the silk was wrapped. The silk was then wrapped on the “doulappi”, and later on then it passed on the “diazidi”. Another tool, the “katastasi” was stuck on the “diazidi”. The “katastasi” was composed of four reels where the silk maker spun the silk.

When the device was completed, the silk maker lighted a fire in the kiln in order to boil the water which was placed in the “leni”. The water should not be very hot because it would melt the cocoons, but also it shouldn’t be very cold.

When the water had the appropriate temperature, the silk maker placed the cocoons in the “leni” and mixed them with a piece of laurel. The choice of the laurel was not random. It was based on three reasons: it was flexible, it didn’t become straight when placed into water and it slips easier, thus the silk was wrapped faster and better.

The manufacture of silk included these steps: the silk which was on the “kalamidi” was firstly wrapped on the “face”, then on the reels and then on the hook of the “diazidi”. The silk continued from the hooks to the “doulappi”. In the meanwhile, the silk maker held the “kalamoti” (mulberry sticks stuck together) and he gathered the dead warms coming out of the cocoons.

The silk makers who managed to produce a large quantity of silk from few cocoons were considered the most competent in the profession.

The silk maker was one of the most profitable professions. For every ounce of silk they got 2-3 cents.

The whole procedure lasted from 30 to 40 days. This profession was seasonal and most precisely from May to June of each year.

Another traditional profession of Kakopetria was the saddler. He manufactured saddles and saddlecloths.

The necessary tools for the saddler were: big scissors, “adrachtas” or “roka”, a big needle, called “sakorafa” or “velonida” in three different sizes, and a cow’s horn, which was filled with oil.

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The manufacture of each saddle lasted one to two days and its price was 5 to six cents.

The saddlers used to travel across the island and sell their products and fixed saddles. They usually went in Mesaoria, Pafos, Pitsilia.

They came back in Kakopetria during the Holy Week and brought back home eggs and cheese for the traditional “flaouna”.

After Easter, the saddlers begun for another trip which took longer than the previous one. They stopped in more villages to work.

On 14th September (feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross), all the saddlers returned to their homes. When they went back in Kakopetria, they organized a big party with plenty of food, music and dance.

The profession of the shepherd has a historical value for Kakopetria. It is said that the first two inhabitants of the Palia Kakopetria, were two shepherds. Before they went in Kakopetria they were servants in the vicinal monastery of Saint Nicolas Stegis.

Since then, many inhabitants of Kakopetria became shepherds. They used to live outside the village in small kraals, in an area called “Karterouni”.

During the summer months, the shepherds took their sheep on the east side of the village which was cooler. At noon they guided them to the river in order to drink water and rest for a while. In the afternoon, when the sun changed its position the shepherds took their sheep on the west side of the village. During winter months, the shepherds chose the sunniest parts of the mountains.

The shepherds could distinguish their own animals due to some marks that they used to put on their ears.

All the shepherds knew how to take care of their animals. They knew how to help them give birth or what exactly they needed when they were ill.

In order to earn money for their families, the shepherds produced milk, cheese and halloumi. Furthermore, they sold their animals, especially on Easter. At that period, the shepherds chose which of their animals could be sold and which of them should remain for reproduction. They rarely killed animals for their own use. They also manufactured packs from the skin of their sheep.

Another popular profession in Kakopetria was the lumberjack, as the village is surrounded by forest. They lumberjacks cut woods and sold them. This profession was not very profitable, and usually the lumberjacks had another occupation as well.

The carpenter is a profession that is related to the lumberjack. The carpenter elaborated wood.

The carpenters undertook the manufacture of wooden roofs, doors and windows, but also of tables, beds and coffers. They also made different wooden tools such as traditional washtubs and wooden boards for the bread.

The profession of the builder has survived to our days. In older times though, the builder undertook the construction of the entire house, as there weren’t any plasterers or other specialties.

The builders used adobe to construct the houses.

The builder, the carpenter and the lumberjack were not very profitable jobs so, the people who practiced these occupations had another job.

When we study the most common professions of Kakopetria, we can have a deeper look in the social status of the inhabitants. As we mentioned above, the inhabitants of the village were obliged to practice more than one job in order to survive.


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