Ο τοπικός πολιτισμός της περιοχής των Τζουμέρκων
Υπόμνημα:

Introduction

This research project is entitled “Researching and Disseminating the Local Culture Aspects  of Tzoumerka (15th-20th centuries): Digitizing the Region’s Cultural Reserve.”[1] The website’s content includes recordings, research material ,concerning the cultural reserve of the area but mainly focuses in the settelement of Matsouki which is the main reference point as far as it concerns the research schedule. Data has been recorded in a custom designed database as well as on an interactive online cultural map that can easily be updated. In fact, both the database and the  cultural digital map aim is  to preserve the region’s cultural reserve  and also to disseminate the cultural datato a wider audience for instructive and research purposes . The website also includes two well documented cultural routes designed to promote the region’s cultural heritage through cultural tourism. The routes are marked on the digital map and are accompanied by information concerning the history of the monuments. Travel and accommodation information is also provided. The first cultural route reference point is  the Devotion of Virgin Mary (Panagia) while the second route’s central theme focuses on Stone Structures Related to Water.

 What became evident during our research project is the fact that its inhabitants developed over time a multidimensional model that was based on the rational use of natural resources.  They had graduallyestablished a dialectic relationship consistent with the mountainous features of the area. These same  features imposed  a sense of mobility and mutual dependence among the various groups, (ethnotic -professional) who shared the same area.

Our attempt was to investigate and then  present on the cultural digital map, the cultural data that demonstrate Tzoumerka’s local profile. Our findings also demonstrate the reality of a communal and mutually dependent culture that exists in this mountainous area  revealing at the same time  its local, ethnic and cultural characteristics. This mountainous society is essentially defined by sheep farming activities, agriculture, handicraft manufacturing, trade and craftsmanship. Work conditions complied with traditional, pre-capitalist institutions and relations and continued as such until the 19th century and onwards.

The traces that this culture leaves behind are visible nowadays in its monuments as well as in the region’s collective memory, folk tradition and handicraft . The traces are many and they’re everywhere. They reflect the continuity and long term survival as well as the discontinuities, ruptures and wounds that the place and its people have experienced throughout time. Due to the region’s multi-layered cultural wealth of information our research focus on a cluster of settlements widelly known as Vlachohoria (e.g.Palaiochori, Syrrako, Kallarytes, Vathipedo, Matsouki) inhanited by a distinct ethnic and cultural group.  They’re considered as the most prominent settlements  in the whole region, due to the commercial activities of their inhabitants, during the 18th-19th century  ,including wool trade, textile  manufacture as well as a notable silversmith tradition. These settlements were inhabitaded mainly by shepherds.  From as early as the 18th century they’re involved in the processing and trade of local products  (i.e. dairy products, hand weaved wool cloaks). The tailors of Syrrako and the Silversmiths of Kallarytes are encountered across southern Europe and the Ottoman world.  Indications of this prosperity are obvious nowadays in the monasteries and the churches of the area (e.g. Monasteries of Kipina and Vyliza, St. Nicholas church in Kallarites and St George church in Sirrako .)

Meanwhile, as already mentioned, the research carried out thus far focuses on the settlement of Matsouki and its widelly known cultural point , the Monastery of Vyliza. We have chosen this specific settlement because this project was completed  with the support and cooperation of the Matsouki Cultural and Educational Association known as “The Vyliza”. The members of this Association supported and endorsed our research in many ways, especially in the fieldwork phases. Its members provided us  accommodation and allowed us to use their library during our stay in the village. They also introduced us to key informants . We express our sincerest gratitude to all of them  and especially to Mr. Athanasios Makris,  Mr. Takis Makris  and especially the priest of the community Christos Makris.  Without their contribution and assistance it would have been impossible for ous  to complete our research.   I’ll briefly praise the persistent, long-term efforts, interventions and actions of the Holy Monastery’s Committee in Vyliza, the Cultural and Educational Association of the Matsouki Community, known as The Vyliza, and the settlement’s residents that have restored the Monastery of Vyliza and made it operational for visitors. They have equally preserved and protected in a uniquely designed museum, which is open to the public, the icons and other relics of the Monastery. The members of the comittee  have also safeguarded  rare manuscripts making them accesible to researchers.
It should be noted that we define and understand culture as a whole. In other words, culture as we see it, includes all aspects of human life (i.e. economy, society, cultural establishments). Such aspects are interconnected, rather thant evolving in an  independent way

The material was categorized into themes based on this inter-connected  perception of culture. First we embraced the material element  which we set as the project’s foundation. This foundation includes the natural environment and the ways in which people use it, the region’s work activities, the function of the built environment, daily life etc. Next, traditional social institutions and relationships are presented as we attempt to interpret  the relationships that exist between the family, the community, the economy and cultural structure. Finally features of so-called spiritual culture are highlighted (i.e. oral tradition, folk literature, features of traditional art).

Our research is split into the following thematic categories which in turn include relevant subcategories:

– Life and Culture
– Monuments and Places of Remembrance
–  Social Institutions
– A World of Tradition and Customs
– Tradition and Memory
– The Past within the Present, which includes details on cultural associations and events that have reactivated the past and built present identities.

Two widely accesible Cultural Routes are depicted on a digital map in order to contribute to the region’s sustainable and local development plan. The study and promotion of the local culture in the region of Tzoumerka is based on a multidisciplinary approach and was achieved thanks to the collaboration of a diverse group of professionals. Data was collected during fieldwork and archive research in the Department of Folklore Studies Archive, which is located in  the University of Ioannina (History and Archaeology Department).  These manuscripts include interesting information concerning  the region of Tzoumerka.

A significant number of manuscripts from the Athens Academy’s Greek Folklore Research Centre contain relevant material which is also recorded on the cultural digital map. In due course the essential manuscripts of Dimitrios Economides, which are the product of his folklore expeditions in Epirus during the period of 1951 to 1967, will be published in a series called: Sources of Popular Culture. The series will also be available online. We also extensively studied and thus recorded on the cultural digital map the museum collection of icons from the Holy Monastery in Vyliza, the Monastery’s iconographic mural, the private photographic collection of Demetrios Kalousios, the websites of communities and municipalities, cultural associations and other organisations that document aspects of the region’s history and local culture.

Therefore many thanks are owed to the aforementioned organisations and individuals that assisted in our research or provided us with study material. We offer special thanks to the local scholar Demetrios Kalousios whose published work on the settlement of Matsouki was a valuable guide in our research and whose remarkable collection of old unpublished photographs of the Matsouki settlement was additionally recorded on the cultural digital map. Our gratitude also goes out to the Folklore and Historical Society of Tzoumerka and especially to its member Mr. Athanasios Bazoukas, the Cultural Center of Syrrako and especially to Mr Ntotis for sharing his knowledge, to Mr Papaghiorgis Karakitsos  priest of  Melissourgoi  to Mr Ziagklis Napoleon, a resident of the Kalarrytes settlement, and once more to the aforementioned organisations and individuals from the settlement of Matsouki who participated in this project and especially to the people that retraced past memories in order to provided us with oral testimonies.

The project’s collaborators

Konstantina, Bada, Professor, Department of History and Archaeology, University of Ioannina and the project’s Head of Research.
Christos, Merantzas, Assistant Professor and Researcher, Department of Cultural Heritage Management and New Technologies, University of Patras and Researcher on the project.
Nicholas Zinas, PhD in Geomatic Engineering, designed and developed the project’s electronic database, Cultural Digital Map (using a GPS application) and mapped the Cultural Routes.
Nicholas Zacharakis, PhD candidate in Folklore Studies (University of Ioannina) and Researcher on the project.

Bellou Eugenia, Postgraduate degree holder from the University of Ioannina and Researcher on the project.

Maria Tsomokos, Postgraduate degree holder in Management of Alternative forms of Tourism (Athens University of Economics and Business), PhD candidate at Panteion University, Responsible for designing and outlining the cultural routes.

Head of Research
Konstantina Bada.

[1].This Research Project was conducted by the University of Ioannina’s Department of History and Archaeology with Lead Researcher, Professor Konstantina Bada. The project falls under the scheme “New Insights” which is part of the Action for Research and Technological Development. This Action is co-funded by the European Union, The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and national funds from the Regional Operational Programme “Thessaly – Continental Greece-Epirus 2007-2013” within the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF 2007-2013).