Museum Guide

Ελληνική έκδοση

The Sarakatsani Folk Museum in its present form is the result of 25 years of persistent efforts, during which it passed through several phases and received various awards. It was originally inaugurated in 1979 on the first floor of an old mansion in Serres. Four years later, in 1983, the exhibition expanded to the second floor as well, and the inauguration this time was combined with a scientific conference, the first to be organized on the subject “Sarakatsani” a Greek Nomadic Pastoral Population. The proceedings of this meeting, at which fifteen papers were presented, were published in a 191-page volume in 1984.

In 1984 the Sarakatsani Folk Museum was honoured with the gold medal of the Thessaloniki Rotary Club and in 1987 received a merit award from European Prix du Musée de l'Année, marking its distinction as one of the 18 European Museums selected from the 146 competitors.

The growing Greek and foreign interest in this specialist (monographic, to use the terminology of modern Museology), Greek Folk Museum was accompanied by a concurrent increase in its acquisitions, and a further round of efforts was begun, aimed at acquiring new, purpose-built premises to rehouse it.

Thanks to understanding, interest and support from many quarters, and especially the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, these efforts were succesful. Building of the present premises commenced in 1991, on a plot of land made over by the state, and in 1997 the Sarakatsani Folk Museum was inaugurated in a completely new form.

The building is arranged on three levels: basement, ground floor and first floor in the form of a gallery. The basement accommodates storerooms for the museum collections not on display, a library and a small hall for cultural events and instruction in Sarakatsani music and dance. On the ground floor and the first-floor gallery an attempt has been made to convey, albeit significatively, the life and art of the Sarakatsani during the final phase of their nomadic existence, that is during the inter-war years and till the late 1940s, when World War II, occupation by Axis forces and the civil war were the death knell for the tselingata.

It is impossible to portray all aspects of Sarakatsani life and art in the available space, and the exhibition is restricted to its principal and most formal manifestations.


On the ground floor the straw huts of different shapes and varied uses give a concise picture of the life in the tselingato (temporary settlement). The elaborately attired Sarakatsan woman and her festooned horse with its trappings standing beside the tsiatoura (overnight shelter) alludes to the annual spring trek of the Sarakatsani from the winter pastures in the valleys to the summer meadows in the mountains.

At the centre of the hall is the "liarge hut", that is the Sarakatsani home, its walls hung with brightly coloured patterned textiles, as it was for weddings, kourbania and festivals in general. In one corner is the shepherd's hut and the bantzos, where cheese was made. The accompanying photographs, plans, drawings and texts complete the brief picture of a way of life that has disappeared, never to return.


Model of a tselingatoModel of a tselingato, made by Vasilis Tsaousis. It gives a picture of the arrangement of the huts within the rounding mountainous landscape. The tselingato was a basic economic unit of the Sarakatsani. It was formed in groups of related families who owned flocks, as well as non-kinsmen, the so-called smichtes.


Exterior of the large hut View of the exterior of the large hut, in which a whole family lived. A smaller hut, the kalyvoula, was erected next to it, in which the loom was set up and the clothing kept.
Interior of the large hut Interior of the large hut with festive decoration of brightly coloured woollen velentzes. Left the vatra or hearth archetypal feature that marks the centre” or focus of dwelling, and the sofras, a low round table where meals are taken. All around is a continuous semicircular wooden bench, pezouli, covered with colourful woollen velentza.
Interior of the large hut

View of the interior of the large hut. On the right a wood­en Hngeria with shelves on which were placed the loaves of bread (psomokrevato) and the copper household vessels (lingerokrevato).


Shepherd's in his hut Sarakatsan shepherd in his hutSarakatsan shepherd in his hut.


The tsiatoura, a temporary shelter of thick, densely woven woollen cloth. It was set up when the caravan stopped for the night on the trek from the winter pastures to the mountains and vice versa.

Sarakatsan woman in festival costume and the loaded horse, outside the tsiatouraSarakatsan woman in festival costume and the loaded horse, outside the tsiatoura
Sarakatsan woman in festival costume and the loaded horse, outside the tsiatoura.


Next to the tsiatoura is the school, with equipment borrowed from a nearby village (until the autumn, when it was returned), noting the Sarakatsani's need for rudimentary education at least, since a man had to know reading, writing and arithmetic in order to become a tselingas (head of the tselingato). It was in schools like this that Sarakatsani, who after the dissolution of the tselingata became merchants, businessmen, scientists and politicians, took their first lessons.

The schoolInterior of the school
The school. A rectangular straw hut, it operated only in summertime. The equipment and teacher came from a nearby village.


Bantzos, the cheese-making hut The rectangular cheese-making hut, the bantzos.
Interior view of the bantzos Interior view of the bantzos with the wooden bench where cheese is made. On the shelves lingeria, copper vessels of various shapes, for milk.
Interior view of the bantzos Interior view of the bantzos. The cauldron in which the milk was boiled and the large copper giou-mi are visible. On the shelf, row upon row of heads of kaskavelia, a distinctive Sarakatsan cheese.


Τύλιγμα του στυμονιού στο αντί (οριζόντιο εξάρτημα) του αργαλειού. 1917: Οικογένεια Βρύζα Στέργιου του Γεωργίου Λυγαριά Σερρών. 'Αντρες με τα σλιάφια. 1918: Οικογένεια Βρύζα Στέργιου του Γεωργίου Λυγαριά Σερρών. 'Αρμεγμα προβάτων.
1925: Οικογένεια Μαρούλα Χρήστου του Κων/νου Κοκκινόγια Καβάλας. Οι παππούδες και τα εγγόνια. 1927: Οικογένεια Τσαούση Βασίλειου του Γεωργίου Πατρίκι Σερρών. Ηλικιωμένοι και νεώτεροι όπως συνήθιζαν να κάθονται για να συζητούν διάφορα θέματα μετά από τις εργασίες τους. 1930: Γάμος. Οικογένεια Τζελέπη Ευάγγελου του Αντωνίου. Πεθελινό Σερρών. Συμπεθεριακό στην Ανατολική Μακεδονία φορώντας πουκάμισο με πέντε σειρές κουμπιά, φουστανέλα και κάλτσες.
1935: Γάμος. Οικογένεια Λάπα Γεώργιου Bαφέϊκα Ξάνθης. Γυναίκες Σαρακατσάνες με πάνινες τραχλιές και ποδιές πάνινες φρουτοποδιές με παναούλες. 1935: Οικογένεια Τσαούση Νικόλαου του Γεωργίου Πατρίκι Σερρών. Τυροκόμοι στο τυροκομείο - μπατζιό με τα κασέρια τα λεγόμενα κασκαβάλια. 1936: Οικογένεια Κρυστάλλη Ζήση Ερατινό Καβάλας. 'Αντρες με αλογόκαρα για εργασία σε κτήματα και χωράφια.
1939: Οικογένεια Κρυστάλλη Ζήση Ερατινό Καβάλας. Σαρακατσάνοι στην στρούγγα αρμέγοντας τα πρόβατα. 1945: Οικογένεια Γιαρίμη Αναστασίου Κομοτηνή. Mετακίνηση από τα χειμαδιά στα βουνά - καραβάνι. 1948: Γάμος. Οικογένεια Βιδούρας Δημήτριος του Κων/νου Διαλαμπή Κομοτηνής. Χορός γύρω από την προίκα που ήταν εκτεθειμένη στην αυλή. Μισές γυναίκες φοράνε πολιτική φορεσιά από την περιοχή Κομοτηνής και οι άλλες μισές Μακεδόνικη.
1950: Οικογένεια Δαλακούρα Αλέξανδρου του Δημητρίου Σάλπη Κομοτηνής. Σχολείο με αγόρια και κορίτσια. 1956: Γάμος. Οικογένεια Πελτέκη Ιωάννη του Γεωργίου Βαφέϊκα Ξάνθης. Πήδημα πρόικας από τον μπράτιμο και τον κουμπάρο. 1957: Γάμος. Οικογένεια Δαλακούρα Δημήτριου του Θεοδώρου Σάλπη Κομοτηνής. Νύφη με άσπρο νυφικό, ενώ η προίκα εκτίθεται κρεμασμένη σε σκοινιά. Περιοχή Κομοτηνής.



The exhibition on the first floor is devoted to Sarakatsan art, a mainly female preserve, including textiles, embroidery and costumes. The large showcase on spinning and weaving illustrates with photographs, texts and objects all stages in the process of cloth production from shearing the sheep to weaving the home-spun yarn on the loom, as well as multi-coloured woollen velentzes and cotton fabrics for various uses. In the cases that follow there are accessories and jewellery from the female costume, as well as ensembles of male and female garments from various local versions of the Sarakatsan costume. Impressive is the reconstruction of the costume of the Sarakatsan klepht (freedom-fighter) in the Greek War of Independence (1821).

Lastly, displayed in the cases incorporated in the parapet of the balcony are embroidered and knitted items, such as panaoules, stockings and kaplies, all outstanding examples of the skilful handiwork of the Sarakatsan women.


Part of the exhibit on yarn production
Part of the exhibit on yarn production Part of the exhibit on yarn production
Part of the exhibit on yarn production.


Velentzes. Tufted woollen coverings with brightly coloured woven designs. Among the strictly standardized motifs the cross has obvious pride of place.



Σαρακατσάνοι νύφη και γαμπρός Photograph of a couple on their wedding day in the late 1940s Σκηνές της παραδοσιακής γαμήλιας τελετής
Sarakatsan bride and groom. Photograph of a couple on their wedding day in the late 1940s. The bride is bedecked in the traditional costume, while the groom wears a European suit. Scenes from the traditional wedding ceremony. The xesakiasma, taking the dowry out of the bags in which it was brought. The bridegroom best friend jumping on the dowry. The schariates the procession on horseback of the male relative of the bride and groom.


Variations of the Sarakatsani costumePart of the showcase with variations of the Sarakatsani costume. Left to right: Sarakatsan man wearing a potouri, Sarakatsan man wearing a segouni, klepht's costume, a group of costumes worn by Sarakatsan women of different ages in Thrace.


Ποικιλίες γυναικείας σαρακατσάνικης φορεσιάςThree regional versions of the Sarakatsan female costume. Left to right: Epirus, Thessaly and Central Macedonia - also known as the "Kassandrini" costume.


Οι βασικοί τύποι της ανδρικής Σαρακατσάνικης φορεσιάς είναι:

Η κλασική φουστανέλα Το Σεγκούνι Το ποτούρι
Α) The classic foustanella Β) Sarakatsan man wearing a segouni. Characteristic garments in the costume are the black jacket and narrow, white woollen kilt (foustanella) Γ) The potouri


Kaplies, woollen textiles with hand embroidery and fringing. The elaborate standardized volute design covers the entire surface, arranged around the central, protective motif of the cross. The kaplia was used as a horse blanket.



Klourotrovades. Small, square bags of woollen cloth for carrying the wedding bread-rings. The multicoloured decoration, embroidered or applique with little pompoms and tassels, in the shape of a cross, has protective and apotropaic symbolism, basic to Sarakatsan motifs.



The tavla, a long narrow, two-coloured cotton cloth embellished with applique pompons and braids forming crosses. It was laid on the ground for communal meals at feasts.

TavlaPlaced on the tavla in the photograph are wedding objects and vessels such as wooden kofes for ouzo and wine, special bread rings (gambrokouloura), sweets (koufeta) and two kerchiefs passed through the betrothal rings.


Women's knitted stockingsWomen's knitted stockings and leggings (patounes) with applique decoration (kontosourapa).


Panaoules or panagoules. Characteristic little aprons of coarse woollen cloth embroidered by hand, worn by Sarakatsan women in Central Macedonia and Thrace. The decorative motifs not only have metaphysical symbolism but perhaps also denoted the wearer's social and age status.


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