Place of Refuge

Place of Refuge

09 June 2012


I was recently on the Greek island of Chios,
which is just off the coast of Turkey.

I've lived in Turkey,
and been to several places in Greece,
but I had never been to Chios before.

Chios, like other islands in the area,
has been invaded and settled over time by several
different powers,
including the Greeks, the Persians, the Italians,
and of course the Turks.

Because of the island's vulnerable, coveted geographical location,
the people built up cities that were natural fortresses,
like this one, the medieval village of Mesta.
This is its outer wall:

The houses in these village/fortresses are built so close together
that you have to look for the hole
or chink
in the fortress, so the speak,
where you will find the entrance:

And then you walk through narrow passageways

that ultimately open out into fabulous central courtyards

The most fascinating of these medieval villages was Pyrgi,
also built so to protect itself:

But the remarkable thing about Pyrgi is the amazing designs 
on the buildings there.  It's almost like graffitti,
but controlled into fabulous patterns.

It reminds me, in a small way,
of the island of Bali,
a land where art and living work collaborate continually.

But in Pirgi, the artwork comes from very humble means.
It begins with putting plaster on stone walls,
then digging it off into different designs
using spoons:

This people of Pyrgi began doing this to their houses 
a few hundred years ago.  The more geometric patterns
come from that time.  The most recent designs
date back fifty years or so, and they are more
elaborate.  The result is a most definitely Greek
village that might have been imagined
Dr. Seuss & Gaudi:

. . . ah, it is so wonderful to see
what the human compulsion
for self expression.

There will, I believe, always be
some form of art.  And it is most fabulous
when our art is also the place
where we live.

(all photos by Makropoulos)

1 comment:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

How beautiful and unique! I'd love to visit there too. Great pix!