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Continuing the Ancient Greek art: Potters of Sifnos

Their art is a legacy passing on from one generation to the other

The “tsikalariá” of Sifnos

Inspired by the dazzling Cycladic sunshine and endowed with fine argil deposits, loads of water and strong winds, the potters of Sifnos have been crafting ceramics since the Protocycladic era.

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For fear of pirates’ invasions, they had first set their workshops (locally called “tsikalariá”) in villages away from the sea (Artemónas, Áno Petáli). After the second half of the 19th century, when pirates stopped being a menace, the tsikalariá moved ashore. Seduced by the infinity of the sea that was now splashing right in front of their very eyes, the craftsmen were tempted to travel to new places in Greece and start new workshops there.

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That was the time when their production met an unparalleled bloom: bowls for the Easter lamb; cooking-pots for the renowned chickpea soup of Sifnos; pitchers and jars for wine and water.

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For the potters of Sifnos, their art is a legacy: it has been passing on from one generation to the other. Walk through the whitewashed narrow streets of the villages of Sifnos and you will catch a potter “red-handed”, working on an object you might buy as a souvenir at the end of your holiday. In fact, it is not exceptional for cups of coffee, dishes and traditional clay chimneys to decorate the living-rooms, the kitchens and the balconies/gardens of many Greek houses throughout the country.

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