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Home 18 January 2021
Culture Folk Culture - People The People Sarakatsanoi Larissa

Sarakatsana woman in front of an erect konaki
(Photo: Archive of E. Staurotheodorou)
Family of Sarakatsanoi (1934)
(Photo: Archive of E. Staurotheodorou)

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Emigres of Anatoliki Romylia
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The way of life


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The tseligato was a partnership which was taking care of the exploitation of the production. Either they were on the mountains to spend the summer, or during the winter in the fields, brothers and cousins joined together their flocks for the better productive collaboration and disposal of their stock-farming products. It was however also an organized core of life.

The tseligato was consisting of 20 to 60 families. The head was the kehagias (arhitseligas). He was arranging almost everything that had relation with the tseligato. He was having however also a social role in the sheepfold as he was advising - with the more aged - and was resolving differences.

The normal operation of the tseligato was based on the principle that everyone would work - included the tseligas who had to be a model for the rests and to inspire respect, to be the most educated, social, moderate, brave, prudent, wise and honest.

All were having their share in the profits and the damages of the flock. During the festival of Saint Dimitrios for the summer and Saint Georgios for the winter, they were calculating the incomes and the expenses of the tseligato and kept accounting notebooks (tefteria).

The house of Sarakatsanoi was called konaki, a hut which was built by them and it was of two types:

a) the erect konaki was a conical hut and was ending in its top to a cross and was having in the center the hearth (fotogoni) and around were the arranged places where they were placing the clothes, utensils of cooking etc
b) the side konaki was having roof in two ways and was built of trunks of trees, pieces of wood (pelekoudia) and branches of firs (mpatses).

The "konakia" – that is the total of the nomadic families – were constituted the sheepfold (stani) . The sheepfold and the tseligato were not identified. A sheepfold could have two or more tseligato.

The Family
The family Sarakatsanoi was patriarchic. The strict discipline and the unwritten laws were defining the behavior of each member. The man was the head of the family. There was respect to the father and the mother. The girl was timid and with good upbringing, while the boy had to be modest and prudent. However the founder of the family was the woman, who was lifting all the weight of the responsibilities. She had undertaken the daily works of the household but also the exterior works of the sheeps. The spinning of the wool was for the woman a pleasure, this is why anywhere she was going was taking it with her. She had to serve the family with devotion and attachment. She was inspiring however respect, particularly when she was becoming a mother.

The Education
The education of Sarakatsanoi was almost null. The hard conditions of life and their continuous transferences did not allow the education of their children in schools. Through everyday routine, the oldest were transmitting to the youngest their knowledge and their traditions. Moreover, the boys were learning reading, writing and arithmetic, something that would be essential to them later for their financial transactions. Some tseligata, during the summer, with their own expenses were hiring a schoolteacher, usually pensioner, in order to give a certain knowledge to the children. The children were attending the courses in a specially shaped hut, the "daskalokalivo". From their narrations however, anyone can notice a frugality and an expressiveness, while in their songs appears a deep sense of the rhythm and the musical measure.