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Culture Folk Culture - People The People Sarakatsanoi Larissa

A dance of Sarakatsanoi
(Photo: Archive of D. Samourelis)
A dance of Sarakatsanoi
(Photo: Archive of D. Samourelis)

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Manners and Customs: Legislation- Gourmpania - Dances - Songs


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The legislation of Sarakatsanoi
In the old times Sarakatsanoi did not resolve their differences in the courts, but with the advices of the old men and the decision of kehagias (arhitseligas). Even if official documents were not existing, the decision was respectable from all and was being executed.

This courts, were becoming in the frame of the tseligato and were being called "s'nafika". To these courts could apply, apart from the wronged, any other on behalf of him.

No one was not thinking not to apply the decision of the old men. In the unwritten law was obeying and kehagias. In opposite case the sanctions for him were more severe.

They were feasts because of someone’s votive offering. After they were making the offering to a Saint, they were killing a male lamb. Then they were laying down the “tavles” - oblong bicolor cotton fabrics, decorated with ribbons and tassels which were shaping crosses - and they were putting on them the roasted meat and specifically kneaded for the circumstance round breads. The guests were sitting behind the “tavles” and the feast was beginning with songs for the gourmpani.

Dances of Sarakatsanoi
The characteristic feature of r the dances of Sarakatsanoi is their slow rhythm, on the one hand because they were always being danced without the accompaniment of the musical instruments, with "the mouth", on the other hand because of the weight of their costume which were decorated with the "koustekia" (jewelries). Each dancer had his own song, which he was singing when he was dancing first.

The women from the men dance always separately. In the mixed dances are observed certain rules, the men dance in the front and the women follow. The last man of the circle should be relative of the first woman, with whom he is held with a scarf.

In each dance the movements of the women are very careful and modest. Never the woman jumps while the eyes are always on the ground. The men rarely jump high, while very often they make postures. In each dance there is the first who directs and coordinates the song and the movements of all.

Songs of Sarakatsanoi
The songs of Sarakatsanoi were singing only "with the mouth", without the accompaniment of the musical instruments and were “antifonika”. This means that a company was singing a verse, they stopped, the second company was repeating the same verse and then the first was continuing the song.

In some feasts, the songs were being accompanied by the sounds of the tzamara and the baking pan. This songs, were not being danced. The tzamara it is a type of flute, with three parts and in old days was the only musical instrument of Sarakatsanoi. In the songs with the "baking pan", the two companies were singing “antifonika”, while an old woman Sarakatsana, was spinning skillfully the baking pan with her hand, in which she was wearing a lot of rings. These were striking on the baking pan and thus were being produced a harmonious metal sound.

The instruments and the orchestras entered in the musical tradition of Sarakatsanoi the early years, for clearly practical reasons, after the influence of the radio and the gramophone.

The songs of Srakatsanoi had all the subjects: the immigration, the marriage, the love, the humor but also funeral songs.