Festival at Athens - 1806~
Color lithograph after a drawing by E. Dodwell (1767-1823), 26.5 x 40.5 cm. From the album by Edward Dodwell: Views in Greece.London, 1830. E. Dodwell: A classical and topographical tour through Greece, during the years 1801, 1805 and 1806, vol II, p. 21-2
Πανηγύρι στην Αθήνα - 1806~
Χρωματισμένη λιθογραφία από σχέδιο του E. Dodwell(1767-1823), 26,5 x 40,5 εκ. Απότολεύκωματου Edward Dodwell: Views in Greece. London, 1830. E. Dodwell: A classical and topographical tour through Greece, during the years 1801, 1805 and 1806, vol II, p. 21-2
The ancient Greeks had a great many different styles of dancing, accommodated to various purposes of a religious, warlike, tragic, comic, lascivious, and satirical kind, and in their numerous modifications and degrees. Many of these dances are still retained in Greece, and probably with little variation from the original models.
The circular, or Romaika, is the national dance, and the most common of all, as it is employed in their religious festivals of the passover, and the carnival. It consists sometimes of men, at other times of women; but on great occasions, of both sexes together, holding each other with a handkerchief, as gloves are not known in Turkey.
The Romaika is generally composed of a great many performers, who dance round a large circle, jumping first with one foot, and then with the other, without any pretensions to grace, to elegance, or activity.
This may possibly have been copied from the dance of the Labyrinth, which Theseus [Plutarch’s Life of Theseus] instituted at Athens, after his prosperous return from Crete, and which, according to Callimachus [Hymn for Delos, v. 310. also see Jul. Pollux, Onomast. b. 4. c. 14. seg. 101], was a circular dance.
Another, which is commonly practised by the Mohamedan Albanians, and is consequently named Arbanitiko, or Arnautiko, perhaps originates from the Spartan Bibasis, mentioned by Julius Pollux. It consists principally in jumping very high, and throwing the body into various warlike attitudes. This performance is confined to men, who dance it either singly, or in any number. It is practised in the mountainous parts of Thessaly and Macedon, the performers being armed with their musket and sword; which may indicate a remnant of the Pyrrhic dance, or the Θρακιον, or the Καρικον, in which they were armed [Jul. Pollux, Onomast. b. 4. c. 14. seg. 100. Xenophon, Exped. Ceri. b. 6. mentions an armed dance of the Ainianenses and Magnesians called Καρπαια. Pliny, Nat. Hist. b. 7. c. 56. says, “Saltationem armatum Curetes docuere, Pyrrhicen Pyrrhus, utramque in Creta”. See also Ammian. Marcellin, b. 16. c. 5. Plutarch, De sera Numen. Vindic. and others]. In the islands of the Archipelago, and particularly in Chios, they have a dance performed by women, which is not inelegant. It consists of two or more females holding each other by a handkerchief at full lenght. While dancing they take it in turns to sing poetry in rhyme. The first stanza being the strophe, they continue turning round in one direction; but, as soon as the antistrophe or second stanza commences, they change their course, and turn the opposite way.
Aeschylus [Eumenid. v. 303] and Lucian [De saltat.] mention a Spartan dance, which was accompanied by singing. But the most curious and interesting of them all is the nuptial dance, which I had an opportunity of seeing at Athens, on the marriage of Albanian Christians. When the bride, who was dressed in the gayest attire, had arrived from the country, and approached the house of the bridegroom, she was encircled by all the principal females of that people, who had assembled before the door, and while they danced around her, welcomed her arrival with a degree of elegance, which not only captivated the imagination, but interested the affections. They sung at the same time the υμεναιοι, or nuptial songs.
Dances of an indecent kind are chiefly practised by sailors, in the idle hours of calm weather, or by depraved mercenaries, for the amusement of the Turks. Their excellence consists in disgusting attitudes and ludicrous contortions, which serve to excite the sluggish apathy, and enliven the sombre seriousness of the Musulman spectators. They will not however bear parallel with the more clear and unambiguous dance of the Russian sailors, which combines all the variations of the Ionici Motus. The sailors' dance is called Μοθων, by Julious Pollux [Onomast. b. 4. c. 14. seg. 101. About other dances practised by the modern Greeks, the letters of Guys may be consulted with advantage]: and the others of a similar tendency were named by the same author, Βαυκισμος, Βακτριασμος, Αποκινος, Αποσεισις, and Κορδαξ.
The Turks [except the Derwisches], have the greatest contempt for dancing; which, as they think, degrades the dignity of man, and is fit only for children and madmen. They are nevertheless very much gratified by seeing others dance, and make fools of themselves for the amusement of the wise. Indeed this exhibition of muscular activity will sometimes cause the rigid monotony of their features to soften into a smile, and sometimes even to proceed so far as the climax of a laugh. This appears to be no small victory obtained over the gravity of those who deem it foolish to laugh at any thing; but very foolish indeed to laugh at nothing! - “Risu inepto nulla res ineptior” [Catullus in Egnat. v. 16].
I had the satisfaction, while at Athens, of seeing the curious and interesting ceremonies attendant on an Albanian marriage. The Νυμφη, or bride, arrived from the country, riding on horseback; the Νυμφαγωγος, or Παροχος, walked before her, and a female, the Νυμφευτρια, on each side: the bride, covered with the Καλυπτρα [The common veil which the Greek women wear is composed of two parts, one of which covers the forehead, and the other the lower part of the face, leaving at liberty only the nose and eyes. The nuptial veil is not of a different kind, and being long and transparent, the person who wears it can see others through it, her own features being concealed, as it is only perspicuous when near the eye. This kind of veil is alluded to by Euripides in his Iphig. in Tauris, v. 372.- Εγωδελεπτωνομμαδιακαλυμματων / Εχουσ'], or veil, was accompanied by a Papas, and a great crowd of Albanians, of both sexes, in gala dresses. The procession entered the gates of Athens with the sound of drums and fifes; and when it reached the bridegroom's house, the happy fair was welcomed by other Albanian women, dancing the Συρτος, and singing the υμεναιοι, or marriage songs.
The nuptial bed, or Κλινηνυμφιδιη, which was brought on horseback from the village, formed a conspicuous feature in the festivity of the procession. When the bride alighted from her horse, her veil [see Jul. Pollox, Onomast. b. 3. c. 3. seg. 37] was taken off; and she was conducted to the presence of her husband. The Γαμος, or nuptial feast, ensued; when all the elderly ladies were affectionately busy in presenting the new-married pair with pomegranates and other fruits, hoping that she might imitate the fertility of those trees, and bless her husband with a numerous progeny. The pomegranate was anciently a mystic fruit, representing plenty and the generative power.
Οι αρχαίοι Ελληνες είχαν πολλούς διαφορετικούς τρόπους να χορεύουν, προσαρμοσμένους στους εκάστοτε σκοπούς τους - όπως θρησκευτικούς, πολεμικούς, τραγικούς, κωμικούς, άσεμνους και σατιρικούς - με πολυάριθμες παραλλαγές και διαβαθμίσεις. Πολλοί από αυτούς τους χορούς διατηρούνται ακόμη στην Ελλάδα, πιθανώς με λίγη απόκλιση από το αρχικό τους πρότυπο.
Ο κυκλικός ή Ρωμέικα είναι ο εθνικός χορός και ο πιο κοινός από όλους, χρησιμοποιείται δε στις θρησκευτικές γιορτές του Πάσχα και της Αποκριάς. Εκτελείται άλλοτε από άντρες και άλλοτε από γυναίκες, αλλά σε σημαντικές περιστάσεις από τα δύο φύλα μαζί, κρατώντας ο ένας τον άλλον με ένα μαντίλι, εφόσον τα γάντια είναι άγνωστα στην Τουρκία. Η Ρωμέικα εκτελείται γενικά από πάρα πολλούς χορευτές που χορεύουν σε έναν μεγάλο κύκλο πηδώντας πρώτα με το ένα πόδι και μετά με το άλλο, χωρίς καμμία αναζήτηση χάρης, κομψότητας ή ζωηρότητας. Πιθανώς είναι μια απομίμηση του χορού του Λαβυρίνθου, που ο Θησέας εγκαινίασε στην Αθήνα μετά την ευτυχή επιστροφή του από την Κρήτη, και ο οποίος κατά τον Καλλίμαχο ήταν κυκλικός χορός.
Αλλος χορός, ο οποίος εκτελείται συχνά από τους μωαμεθανούς Αλβανούς και επομένως ονομάζεται Αρβανίτικο ή Αρναούτικο, προέρχεται πιθανώς από τη σπαρτιατική βίβαση που αναφέρει ο Ιούλιος Πολυδεύκης. Συνίσταται ουσιαστικά σε πολύ ψηλά πηδήματα και σε εκτινάξεις του σώματος σε διάφορες πολεμικές στάσεις. Η παράσταση αυτή δίνεται μόνο από άντρες, είτε μεμονωμένους είτε σε οποιονδήποτε αριθμό. Εκτελείται στα ορεινά μέρη της Θεσσαλίας και της Μακεδονίας, οι δε χορευτές είναι οπλισμένοι με το μουσκέτο και το σπαθί τους, πράγμα που πιθανώς υποδηλώνει κατάλοιπο του Πυρρίχιου χορού ή του Θράκιου, ή του Κάρικου, που ήταν ενόπλιοι.
Στα νησιά του Αρχιπελάγους και ιδιαίτερα στη Χίο έχουν έναν χορό εκτελούμενο από γυναίκες, που δεν είναι άκομψος. Εκτελείται από δύο ή περισσότερες γυναίκες που κρατιούνται από ένα μαντίλι σε όλο του το μήκος. Χορεύοντας τραγουδούν εναλλάξ ρυθμικά ποιήματα. Ο πρώτος στίχος είναι η στροφή, οπότε συνεχίζουν να γυρίζουν προς τη μία κατεύθυνση, αλλά μόλις αρχίζει η αντιστροφή ή δεύτερος στίχος αλλάζουν πορεία και γυρίζουν στην αντίθετη κατεύθυνση. Ο Αισχύλος και ο Λουκιανός αναφέρουν έναν σπαρτιατικό χορό που συνοδευόταν από τραγούδι.
Ο πιο ενδιαφέρον όμως απ’ όλους είναι ο νυφικός χορός τον οποίον είχα την ευκαιρία να δω στην Αθήνα σε γάμο χριστιανών Αλβανών. Οταν η νύφη, που ήταν ντυμένη με την πιο ευχάριστη περιβολή, έφτασε από την επαρχία και πλησίασε το σπίτι του γαμπρού, περιτριγυρίστηκε από όλες τις γυναίκες που ήταν εκεί συγκεντρωμένες μπροστά στην πόρτα, και χορεύοντας γύρω της την καλωσόρισαν με τέτοια χάρη, που όχι μόνο γοήτευε τη φαντασία αλλά άγγιζε τα αισθήματα. Ταυτόχρονα τραγουδούσαν υμεναίους, τραγούδια του γάμου.
Χοροί του άσεμνου είδους εκτελούνται κυρίως από ναυτικούς τις νεκρές ώρες που ο καιρός είναι ήσυχος, ή από δυστυχείς μισθοφόρους για να διασκεδάζουν τους Τούρκους. Η γοητεία τους συνίσταται σε αηδιαστικές στάσεις και γελοίες χειρονομίες, με σκοπό να διεγείρουν την βαριά απάθεια και να ζωντανεύουν την θλιμένη σοβαρότητα των μουσουλμάνων θεατών... Ο χορός των ναυτικών λέγεται μόθων από τον Ιούλιο Πολυδεύκη, οι δε άλλοι με παρόμοιες τάσεις ονομαζόταν από τον ίδιο συγγραφέα βαυκισμός, βακτριασμός, απόκινος, απόσεισις και κόρδαξ.
Οι Τούρκοι, πλην των δερβίσηδων, τρέφουν την μεγαλύτερη περιφρόνηση για το χορό, ο οποίος όπως πιστεύουν υποβιβάζει την αξιοπρέπεια του ανθρώπου και αρμόζει μόνο σε παιδιά και σε τρελλούς. Ομως αρέσκονται πολύ να βλέπουν άλλους να χορεύουν και να γελοιοποιούνται για να διασκεδάζουν οι σόφρονες.
Είχα την ικανοποίηση όταν ήμουν στην Αθήνα να δω τις περίεργες και ενδιαφέρουσες τελετές που συνοδεύουν έναν αλβανικό γάμο. Η νύμφη έφτασε από την επαρχία πάνω σε άλογο, η νυμφαγωγός ή πάροχος περπατούσε μπροστά της, καθώς και μία νυμφεύτρια στην κάθε πλευρά της. Η νύφη, σκεπασμένη με μία καλύπτρα ή πέπλο, συνοδευόταν από έναν παπά και ένα μεγάλο πλήθος Αλβανών των δύο φύλων με εορταστικές ενδυμασίες. Η πομπή πέρασε την πύλη των Αθηνών υπό τους ήχους τυμπάνων και αυλών, και όταν έφτασε στο σπίτι του γαμπρού η χαρούμενη συντροφιά έγινε δεκτή από άλλες Αρβανίτισες χορεύοντας τον Συρτό και τραγουδώντας υμέναιους, δηλαδή τραγούδια του γάμου.
A dancing girl - 1809-1810
Colored aquatint, 18 x 11 cm. From the book by J. C. Hobhouse: A journey through Albania and other provinces of Turkey in Europe and Asia, to Constantinople during the years 1809 and 1810. London, 1813.
Κορίτσι που χορεύει - 1809-1810
Χρωματισμένη ακουατίντα, 18 x 11 εκ. Από το βιβλίο του J. C. Hobhouse: A journey through Albania and other provinces of Turkey in Europe and Asia, to Constantinople during the years 1809 and 1810. London, 1813.
John Cam Hobhouse
Hobhouse, John Cam: A journey through Albania and other provinces of Turkey in Europe and Asia to Constatinople during the years 1809 and 1810. London, James Cawthorn, 1813, 2 vols.
Shooting at Greek mariners dancing, 09/1809
A circumstance just at that time occurred, which seemed to coincide with the report made by the master of the transport; for, looking out of the Consul’s window, I saw a young Turk discharge two pistols over a garden-wall, to frighten some Greek mariners who were dancing and singing to the sound of a fiddle. The sailors, however, continued their sport; and we soon found that there was nothing malicious or unusual in the playfulness of the young Mussulman.
Night dancing in Arta, Epirus, 10/1809
We had little sleep, being disturbed by a party of Greeks fiddling and dancing in the room next to us, and were up the next morning at sun-rise; but we did not mount until eight o’clock.
Kinds of dancing among the Albanians, 1809
Although lazy in the intervals of peace, there is one amusement of which (as it reminds them of their wars, and is, in itself, a sort of friendly contest) they partake with the most persevering energy and outrageous glee. I allude to their dances, which, though principally resorted to after the fatigues of a march, and during their nights on the mountains, are yet occassionally their diversion on the green of their own villages.
There is in them only one variety: either the hands of the party (a dozen, or more, in number) are locked in each other behind their backs; or every man has a handkerchief in his hand, which is held by the next to him, and so on through a long string of them. The first is a slow dance. The party stand in a semicircle; and their musicians in the middle, a fiddler, and a man with a lute, continue walking from side to side, accompanying with their music the movements, which are nothing but the bending and unbending of the two ends of the semicircle, with some very slow footing, and now and then a hop.
But in the handkerchief dance, which is accompanied by a song from themselves, or which is, more properly speaking, only dancing to a song, they are very violent. It is upon the leader of the string, that the principal movements devolve, and all the party take this place by turns. He begins at first opening the song, and footing quietly from side to side; then he hops quickly forward, dragging the whole string after him in a circle; and then twirls round, dropping frequently on his knee, and rebounding from the ground with a shout; every one repeating the burden of the song, and following the example of the leader, who, after hopping, twirling, dropping on the knee, and bounding up again several times round and round, resigns his place to the man next to him. The new Coryphoeus leads them through the same evolutions, but endeavours to exceed his predecessor in the quickness and violence of his measures; and thus they continue at this sport for several hours, with very short intervals; seeming to derive fresh vigour from the words of the song, which is perhaps changed once or twice during the whole time.
In order to give additional force to their vocal music, it is not unusual for two or three old men of the party to sit in the middle or the ring, and set the words of the song at the beginning of each verse, at the same time with the leader of the string; and one of them has often a lute to accompany their voices.
You should have been told, that this lute is a very simple instrument - a three-stringed guitar with a very long neck and a small round base, whose music is very monotonous, and which is played with, what you will excuse me for calling, a plectrum, made of a piece of quill, half an inch in length. The majority of the Albanians can play on this lute, which, however is only used for, and capable of those notes that are just sufficient for the accompaniment and marking the time of their songs.
The same dance can be executed by one performer, who, in that case, does not himself sing, but dances to the voice and lute of a single musician. We saw a boy of fifteen, who, by some variation of the figure, and by the ease with which he performed the pirouette, and the other difficult movements, made a very agreeable spectacle of this singular performance.
There is something hazardous, though alluring, in attempting to discover points of resemblance between modern and ancient customs; yet one may venture to hint, that the Albanians, from whomsoever they may have learnt the practice, preserve in this amusement something very similar to the military dances of which we find notice in Classic authors. At the same time, one would not, as several French travellers have done, talk of the Pyrrhic dance of the Arnouts. Look into Xenophon for a description of the Greek and barbarian dances with which he entertained some foreign ambassadors, and you will fix upon the Persian, as bearing the nearest resemblance to the modern dance; for in that, the performer dropped on the knee and rose again, and all this he did in regular measure to the sound of the flute.[Τέλος δε τό Περσικόν ωρχείτο κροτών τάς πέλτας καί ώκλαζε, και ανίστατο, και ταύτα πάντα εν ρυθμώ πρός τον αυλόν εποίει. - Lib. 6, Xenop. Cy. Anab. p. 426; where, in a note, there is a reference to Meursius` Laconian Miscellanies, book II, chap.12, which describes the armed dance performed - "cum omni corporum flexu ad inferendos et declinandos ictus." To learn the Pyrrhic dance, was part of the duty of the Roman legionary soldier.]
In the account given of the armed dances of the Laconians, you might also recognize the curious contortions and twirlings of the Albanians, whose sudden inflexions of the body into every posture, seem indeed as if they were made to ward and give blows.
Karagueuz shadow theater compared to English morris dancing, Ioannina, Epirus, 10/1809
An evening or two before our departure from Ioannina, we went to see the only advance which the Turks have made towards scenic representations. This was a puppet-show, conducted by a Jew who visits this place during the Ramazan, with his card performers. The show, a sort of ombre Chinoise, was fitted up in a corner of a very dirty coffee-house which was full of spectators, mostly young boys. The admittance, was two paras for a cup of coffee, and two or three more of those small pieces of money put into a plate handed round after the performance. The hero of the piece was a kind of punch, called Cara-keus, who had, as a traveller has well expressed it, the equipage of the God of Gardens, supported by a string from his neck. The next in dignity was a droll, called Codja-Haivat, the Sancho of Cara-keus; a man and a woman were the remaining figures, except that the catastrophe of the drama was brought about by the appearance of the Devil himself in his proper person. The dialogue, which was all in Turkish, and supported in different tones by the Jew, I did not understand; it caused loud and frequent bursts of laughter from the audience; but the action, which was perfectly intelligible, was too horribly gross to be described. If you have ever seen the morrice-dancing in some counties of England, you may have a faint idea of it.
If the character of a nation, as has been said, can be well appreciated by a view of the amusements in which they delight, this puppet-show would place the Turks very low in the estimation of any observer. They have none, we were informed, of a more decent kind.
Albanians at Utraikee, gulf of Parga, near Catoona, Epirus, 1809
In the evening the gates were secured, and preparations were made for feeding our Albanians. A goat was killed, and roasted whole, and four fires were kindled in the yard, round which the soldiers seated themselves in parties. After eating and drinking, the greater part of them assembled round the largest of the fires, and, whilst ourselves and the elders of the party were seated on the ground, danced round the blaze to their own songs, in the manner before described, but with astonishing energy. All their songs were relations of some robbing exploits. One of them, which detained them more than an hour, began thus - “ When we set out from Parga, there were sixty of us: ” then came the burden of the verse,
“Robbers all at Parga!
“Robbers all at Parga!”
“Κλεφτεις ποτε Παργα!
“Κλεφτεις ποτε Παργα! ”
and as they roared out this stave, they whirled round the fire, dropped, and rebounded from their knees, and again whirled round, as the chorus was again repeated. The rippling of the waves upon the pebbly margin where we were seated, filled up the pauses of the song with a milder, and not more monotonous music. The night was very dark, but by the flashes of the fires we caught a glimpse of the woods, the rocks, and the lake, which, together with the wild appearances of the dancers, presented us with a scene that would have made a fine picture in the hands of such an artist as the author of the Mysteries of Udolpho.
Village women and Albanian soldiers at Arakhova, Roumeli, 1809
We were now much higher than the position of Castri; the rocks of Mount Cirphis appeared like a plain on a level with us; yet we still ascended, until we arrived, in four hours from Crisso, at Arakova, which is the most considerable town on Liakura. It is built of stone, and contains, perhaps, three hundred and fifty houses, of the poorer sort, inhabited by Greeks.
We were here lodged with females, who were very attentive and obliging, and did not seem so terrified at our Albanians as had been the people of the other villages. They danced at our request, and their performance was succeeded by that of our men in the usual style. The music was a large drum, which, in our cottage, was louder than thunder, and was beaten without any regard to time, or the motions of the dancers. A squeaking pipe was also added to the entertainment; it sounded like the most unharmonious bagpipe, and the person who played on it, either from the quantity of wind required for the instrument, or for effect, made the most frightful contortions.
After the dancing, the good folks of the cottage sent for a boy out of the village, who had been to Malta, which place, it was evident from their manner, that they all looked upon as the Ultima Thule. They showed him to us as a sort of wonder, and appeared to question him, if we were like the kind of men he had seen on that island.
Children in Athens, 1809
Just above the stone platform is the brow of the hill, whence there is a view of the Piraeus, the peninsula of Munychia, and the whole line of coast. The west side of Lycabettus falls, by an easy descent, into the large plain of Athens. Coele, the area of Pnyx, the sides and summits of Lycabettus, are ploughed up and cultivated, where there is any soil on the rock. They were covered with the green blades of wheat and barley, as early as the month of January; and, on the clear warm days which often occur in the depth of an Athenian winter, swarmed with trains of Greek and Turkish females, clothed in their bright-coloured hoods and mantles, some strolling about, others sitting in circles, with their children playing on the Turkish guitar, and dancing before them. As the season advances, many of the poorer sort of women are seen in these corn-grounds, picking the wild salads and herbs, which constitute so material a part of their diet during the long fasts of the Greek church.
A Greek wedding, 1810
A few friends, and perhaps a Frank stranger, are sometimes invited to the first public ceremony in which a young girl is concerned, that is, her betrothing to her future husband, who generally has never seen her; and we ourselves were once asked to a supper where there was music and dancing on an occasion of this kind. The girl (called η νύμφη), was sitting in the middle of the sofa, covered with paint and patches, having a sort of crown on her head, and stuck round with jewels and gold chains on every part of her dress.
The nuptial ceremony, notwithstanding the undoubted antiquity of some of its usages, is, like most of the rites of the Greek church, exceedingly mean, and, to a person unaccustomed to the sight, ridiculous. The bride and bridegroom stand near the altar, holding a lighted candle in their hands. The priest, who stands facing them, reads and sings a service, and then taking two rings, and two garlands of flowers sprinkled with gold leaf, puts them on the fingers and the heads of the couple, then repeats and chaunts, and changes both the one and the other. This interchange is repeated several times, with great rapidity, and accompanied by gabbling and singing, until at last the rings are left on the fingers which they are intended to fit, and the garlands are finally laid aside, without being suffered to adorn the head either of the man or the woman. Some bread, which has been blessed and marked with the sign of the cross, is broken and eaten by the bride and bridegroom, and a cup of wine is presented first to one and then to the other, after which the girl hands round some of the same cake, together with rossoglio, or rakee, to the persons present, and if she is not of high condition, receives a piece of money from each of the visitors, for which she kisses their hands. This is the last part of the wedding, and the carrying away of the bride to her husband’s house happens the same, or the next day, when there is a procession, much like that which we witnessed at Ioannina. The evening is concluded with music, dancing, and a feast, in which fruits, and especially nuts (an ancient nuptial delicacy), form the chief part of the repast.
At Athens we saw a bride accompanied home by at least fifty young girls, in pairs, dressed in white, and their heads crowned with flowers, preceded by musicians, with guitars, rebecks, and fiddles: she was going to the house of some female friend, where she was to remain until the procession of her husband arrived to attend her to his own home.
The preceding usages we witnessed ourselves; there are others attached to the same important ceremony, of which we could only hear or read, such as the bathing of the bride in triumph on the night before the wedding, and the walking at the threshold of the husband’s chamber, over the covered sieve, which, if it does not crackle beneath the foot of the bride, renders her chastity suspected. This second custom is mentioned by several writers, and may really obtain, but I did not hear of it, nor of the forbearance of the bridegroom on the night of his nuptials, alluded to by Mons. De Guys, in his sixteenth letter. There are very few instances of second marriages amongst the Greeks, nor of any man, except a priest, remaining single for life.
The women can seldom read or write, but are all of them able to embroider very tastefully, and can generally play on the Greek lute, or rebeck. Their dancing they learn without a master, from their companions. The dance, called ×όñïò, and for distinction, Romaïca, consists generally in slow movements, the young women holding by each other's handkerchiefs, and the leader setting the step and time, in the same manner as in the Albanian dance. The dancers themselves do not sing; but the music is a guitar, or lute, and sometimes a fiddle, accompanied by the voice of the players. When, however, men are of the party, there is a male and female alternately linked, and the performance is more animated, the party holding their handkerchiefs high over their heads, and the leader dancing through them, in a manner which, although at the time it reminded me only of our game of thread-the-needle, has been likened by some observers to the old Cretan labyrinth dance, called Geranos, or the Crane. When the amusement is to be continued throughout a night, which is often the case, the figures are various; and I have seen a young girl, at the conclusion of the dance described, jump into the middle of the room, with a tambourine in her hand, and immediately commence a pas seul, some favourite young man whom she had warned of her intention, striking the strings of the guitar at the same time, and regulating the dance and music of his mistress. We once prevailed on a sprightly girl of fifteen to try the Albanian figure, and her complete success on the first attempt showed the quickness and versatility of her talents for this accomplishment.
Epiphany in Athens, 17/01/1810
The Greek girls carry presents of these colyvas, and other sweetmeats, on twelfth-day, which they call πολυκερίον, to their friends; and in some other respects, the amusements and religion of this people seem as much connected as in ancient times. They dance in honour of some of their Saints, and on the feast of the Epiphany, bands of fiddlers and other musicians patrole the streets from morning to night.
This feast, by accident, whilst we were in Athens, fell on the same day as the second Bairam of the Turks, the 17th of January, and the Mahometans were firing cannon and discharging sky-rockets from the Acropolis with the sound of drums and pipes, at the same time that the Christians were manifesting their glee to commemorate another event in every street of the city below.
In the Greek cemeteries of Constantinople, 1810
At Constantinople, or rather at Pera, the distance to the burying-ground is considerable, and gives time for large bodies of followers to collect, and accompany the procession to the tomb. Arrived at the place of interment, the bier is set down, a short service read, and the body deposited with its dress, and rolled in a winding-sheet, in the grave, the mourners continuing to howl most piteously during this last ceremony. The garlands that adorned the bier are some of them thrown into the grave, and others carried home by the mourners and friends.
Afterwards, and generally on the ninth day after the funeral, a feast is prepared by the nearest relation, accompanied with music and dancing, and every other species of merriment. But the priests gain the most by these festive demonstrations of grief. They are supplied always on the ninth day, and frequently also during the mourning, with large colyvas, which present is repeated also for three or four anniversaries of the burial.
The cemeteries of the Greeks are not in their churches, nor in the precincts of any city, but at a little distance from the town, in a space, not enclosed by a wall, near the high-road. The tomb-stones are some raised, some flat, and they are generally in a thin grove of cypress or yew trees. On certain days they are frequented by the relations of those who are lately dead, when, after a few tears, and the depositing of a garland and a small lock of hair on the grave, the parties assume their accustomed liveliness, and spend the remainder of the visit in dancing and singing.
Modern Greeks attached to singing, playing and dancing, 1810
The men and women all sing, and all sing through the nose. The fiddle and three-stringed guitar are the usual instruments, and on these most of the young men, particularly the sailors, are able to perform; for all ranks are most attached to singing and playing, no less than to dancing, and, at some seasons, appear to do nothing else.
A Carnival ball at Smyrna, Asia Minor, 03/1810
?? ports a set of public rooms, fitted up in a very comfortable and splendid style, called, as in Italy, the Casino. Here there is a reading-room furnished with all the papers and gazettes of Europe, except the English, and there are two other apartments with billiard tables: refreshments of every kind can be procured in the house, for those who choose to form parties for supper. - The rooms open at eight o’clock every evening: and during the Carnival, the subscribers give a ball once a week, to which all the respectable Greeks and the ladies of their families are invited. The annual subscription is five guineas, and all strangers, not residents of Smyrna, are permitted to attend the Casino without any payment. Unfortunately the wars of monarchs have become the wars of the merchants of Smyrna, and the Casino, during our visit, was threatened to be overturned by the national feuds of the two belligerents
At the Sweet Waters of Constantinople, 1810
Strings of females promenading between the avenues, sets of dancing Greeks, horses superbly caparisoned, add to the beauty and singularity of the spectacle which is to be seen on any fine day in the valley of Sweet Waters.
Moonlight dances by the Greeks at Belgrade village, near Constantinople, 1810
Some of the foreign ambassadors retire to this village during spring and autumn. The French Minister gave a sort of fête-champêtre whilst we were there, and several large tents were pitched on a green near the rivulet, for the accommodation of the party during their repasts, and to enclose a space which was each evening allotted to the dancers. The carousal lasted four days.
The repose of Belgrade is completely interrupted by the loud merriment of the Greeks, who often retire thither from the eye of superiority, and celebrate their marriages and church-feasts with discordant music and songs. Night after night is kept awake by the pipes, tabors, and fiddles, of their moonlight dances; and the fountains, resorted to by the nymphs which charmed Lady M. W. Montague [Letter xxxvi], do not adulterate the beverage of the youths who assist at these continued Saturnalia.
Dancing stops at the passage of the Sultan in Constantinople, 1810
Nearly opposite to Mahomet’s Tower, in the midst of a green meadow watered by two rivulets, and shaded with clumps of trees which give it the appearance of a park, stands a large country-seat, the property of the Grand Signior, but inhabited by the Bostandge-Bashe, with a centre and wings like an European mansion-house. The inspection of the canal, as the straits are called, is entrusted to this state officer; and he may not unfrequently be seen, in the dusk of the evening, in his eight-oared barge, skirting the villages on the banks. At this time the rayahs are careful to extinguish every light, and suspend the sound of music and dancing, which is often heard in passing under their gloomy-looking dwellings.
Odalisques of the Sultan's harem, Constantinople, 1810
We sailed towards this bay from Buyuk-dere, and landed at a spot which is called the Grand Signior's Scale, having been the landing-place leading to a magnificent kiosk now in ruins, but of which the gardens still remain, at Sultanie-Baktchesi, near the village of Beicôs. We mounted some horses at a coffee-house, where there were several ready saddled for visitors, and passed by a large paper manufactory at the head of an extensive meadow, or smooth-shaven lawn, shaded by rows of tall straight oaks, and watered by two clear rivulets, where the ladies of the Imperial harem often take boat in the summer, and jaunt up the beautiful vallies in their arabats, to some artificial lakes or large reservoirs, where they fish and amuse themselves with the dancing and music of their Odalisques.
Boys in the tavernas of Constantinople, 1810
When we were in the city, wine was to be had in all the tabagies or coffee-houses kept by Greeks, and as no Turk is a drinker without being a drunkard, I was witness to as much excess in this respect, as might be seen in the same time at the west end of the English metropolis. Tabagies are to be found in Constantinople, but Galata abounds with them, and you seldom fail of being saluted with music, or more discordant sounds, in passing through the streets of that suburb. These wine-houses, for so they are called by the Franks, are usually large halls floored with Dutch tiles, having a fountain in the middle, and a wooden gallery for the guests running round the sides of the room, about half way between the ground and the ceiling. That part of the entertainment which is most to the fancy of the company, and which no Englishman would patiently contemplate for a moment, is the exhibition of the Yamakis, or dancing boys, who are chiefly insular Greeks and Jews, but never Turks. The wretched performers dance to the music of guitars, fiddles and rebeks; and what with the exclamations of the master of the dancers, and sometimes the quarrels of the Turks, so much noise and disturbance ensue at mid-day, as to bring the patrols to the spot. Rome itself, at the period of the famous edict of the Emperor Philip, could not have furnished a spectacle so degrading to human nature as the taverns of Galata.
Armenian graveyard at Constantinople, 1810
At the tombs may be seen the relations of the deceased in all the attitudes of grief from the torpor of mute despair, to the agitation of uncontrolled sorrow. The men stand at the foot of the grave, their arms folded, their heads upon their chests, and the tears rolling down their cheeks; whilst the women are seated on the ground, or prostrate on the flat tomb-stones, beating their breasts, and lamenting aloud. A solitary mourner is sometimes found weeping and praying amongst the sepulchres; but on stated days the ceremony is general, and the priests attend during the perfomance, which concludes somewhat unexpectectedly for strangers, with music, dancing, and feasting.
Hobhouse, p. 2/925-927
Dervishes in Pera, Constantinople, 1810
There is a monastery of the former order, the Mevlevi (so called from Mevlana their founder) in Pera, and we were admitted to the performance of their ceremonies on Friday the 25th of May. We were conducted by a private door into the gallery of the place of worship, a single octagonal room, with the middle of the floor, which was of wood highly polished, railed off for the exhibitors. A red carpet and cushion were placed at the side opposite the great door near the rails, but there were no seats in any part of the chamber. We waited some time until the great door opened, and a crowd of men and boys rushed in, like a mob into a playhouse, each of them, however, pulling off his shoes as he entered. The place without the rails, and our gallery, were filled in five minutes, when the doors were closed. The Dervishes dropped in one by one, and each of them crossing his arms, very reverently and with the utmost grace bowed to the seat of the Superior, who entered at last himself, better dressed than the others, and with his feet covered. With him came in another man, who was also distinguished from the rest by his garments, and who appeared afterwards to officiate as a clerk. Other Dervishes arrived, and went into the gallery opposite to the Superior’s seat, where there were four small cymbal drums. The Superior now commenced a prayer, which he continued for ten minutes; then a man stood up in the gallery, and sang for some time from a book: the cymbals began to beat, and four Dervishes taking up their neïh or long cane pipes, called by Cantemir the sweetest of all musical instruments [Ottoman Hist. Part I. book i. p.40.], played some tunes which were by no means disagreeable, and were, indeed, something like plaintive English airs. On some note being struck, the Dervishes below all fell suddenly on their faces, clapping their hands with one accord upon the floor.
The music ceased, and the Superior began again to pray. He then rose, and marched three times slowly round the room, followed by the others, who bowed on each side of his cushion, the Superior himself bowing also, but not to the cushion, and only once, when he was half way across it. The Superior reseated himself, and said a short prayer. The music commenced a second time, all the Dervishes rose from the ground, and fourteen out of the twenty who were present, let drop a long coloured petticoat, round the rim of which there were apparently some weights; and throwing off their cloaks, they appeared in a tight vest with sleeves. The clerk then marched by the Superior, and bowing, retired into the middle of the room. A Dervish followed, bowed, and began to whirl round, his long petticoat flying out into a cone. The rest followed, and all of them were soon turning round in the same manner as the first, forming a circle about the room, with three or four in the middle. The arms of one man alone were like a kettle-spout, the rest had both arms extended horizontally, generally with the palm of one hand turned upwards, and the fingers closed and at full length. A very accurate and lively representation of this curious scene may be found in Lord Baltimore’s Travels. - Some of them turned with great speed; they revolved round the room imperceptibly, looking more like automatons than men, as the petticoat concealed the movement of their feet; the clerk walked with great earnestness and attention amongst them, but without speaking, and the Superior remained on his cushion moving his body gently from side to side, and smiling. The performers continued at the labour for twenty-five minutes, but with four short intervals; the last time they turned for ten minutes, and notwithstanding some of them whirled with such velocity that their features were not distinguishable, and two of them were boys of fifteen and seventeen, apparently no one was affected by this painful exercise. The clerk, after the turning and music ceased, prayed aloud, and a man walking round, threw a cloak upon the Dervishes, each of whom was in his original place, and bending to the earth. The Superior began the last prayer, and the company withdrew.
Greek dance songs, 1810
Τόν ορανόν κάμνω χαρτί If all the ocean were of ink,
Τήν θάλασσαν μελάνι And paper all the skies,
Νά γράψω τα πισμάτικα Should I attempt to write my woes,
Καί όλα δέν με φθάνει They never would suffice.
Ισως θαρρείς κ' άν μ' αρνηθείς You hope, when you deny me thus,
Πως θενά κιτρινίσω To make me wan with woe;
Γαριφαλάκι θαγενώ But I, thy passion to provoke,
Δια να σε δαιμονίσω Like violets fair will grow.
Κυπαρίσσακι μου υψηλό My lofty cypress, hear me speak,
Σκύψε να σε λαλήσω And bend thy head so high;
Εχω δύω λόγια να σ' επώ Two words alone I ask, and then
Καί απί να ξεψυχήσω Will be content to die.
This specimen of the alternate verses of the modern Greeks, which they repeat for a continuation, and with no other connection than that they all have some reference to love, is inserted in Dr. Pouqueville's account of the Morea, which contains also one of the songs which are sung by the leaders of the Romaοc dances, and repeated after the chorypheus by the whole string of the performers. At each verse or strophe, as Dr. Pouqueville calls it, some change takes place in the figure or footing of the dance. He gives it the name of the Romaic Rans de vache.
Kόρη μαλαματένια μου My maiden of gold! my beautiful jewel
Καί μαργαριταρένια μου, literally, of pearls. Hibernice, my Jewel
Κάμνεις τούς νέους καί χαίρουνται The young all delighted, thy presence survey;
Τούς γέρους καί τρελαίνωνται The aged entranc'd, look their wisdom away,
Κάμνεις καί μέ τόν ορφανό I too must despair, as I find thee so cruel,
Πιάνω μαχαίρι να σφαγώ Then bring me a dagger, a lover to slay;
Σιώπ΄ορφανέ μή σφάζεσει Peace, pitiful boy, why tell us of killing?
Καί απ' ομορφιαίς μήνοιαζεσε These charmers should ne'er be the cause of thy sorrow
Κ'εμείς να σού τήν φέρομεν We'll bring thee another, since this is unwilling,
Τήν κόρην οπώ ξεύρομεν Another much fairer and kinder, to-morrow.