THE BLACK VEIL

   

"It was Crete's fate to challenge Death and 
to wear on its head the black veil."

  

In 1913 the year that Crete regained its freedom after seven hundred years of Venetian and Turkish rule. The smell of gunshots and the black colour of mourning have been part of the older Cretans existence as far back as most can remember. Crete wears the black veil for mourning and sorrow as Crete has always been oppressed. After the Venetians and Turks came the fascist Italians and Nazis.  Most did not just experience war and occupation through the stories of their fathers and grandfathers, but they lived through it. 

  

This farmer carries his 'vourgia' a woven shoulder bag used to carry  food.


The black crocheted 'mandili' is said to have replaced the turban (see above) and fez. It was worn in mourning for the loss of the capital of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople (present day Istanbul). The tassels dangling in their eyes are to represent tears for the people lost in the explosion of the monastery at Arkadi in Crete. Another name for the more modern netted kerchief is the 'sariki' which is wound around the head and edged with a fringe or tiny knots.

 Arkadi Monastery


The monastery  played an important role in the fight against the Turks, when around  20,000 men of the Turkish Army surrounded the monastery in November 1866, 300 men and 600 hundred women and children who had taken refuge in it fought rather than surrender. When the walls were breached the Turks began to massacre these poor frightened people. One of the rebels named Kostis Giamboudakis blew up the powder magazine and the explosion reduced the monastery to a pile of rubble the explosion killed nearly everyone, including the Turks. This heroic feat is considered one of the greatest in Cretan history and has turned the Arkadi remains into a symbol of Cretan defiance
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