History of Macedonia 1354-1833

A. Vacalopoulos


XIII. The economic, cultural and political influences of Macedonian emigrants upon their native towns


2. Vlach -speaking villages and Siátista



We have much more extensive information about the popular crafts (see fig. 134) and the development of commercial and communal life in the cities of Western Macedonia. Numerous songs still sung today





and costumes still being worn help to recreate that epoch for us (see fig. 135).


In Grevená, to be sure, one would seek in vain for any trace of migration northwards or for any influence exercised by expatriate natives of Grevená upon their home-town. The picture is quite different, however, in Samarína and the other Vlach-speaking villages of Smíxi,



Fig. 134. Embroidered cuff from Western Macedonia

Fig. 134. Embroidered cuff from Western Macedonia.

(Museum of Folk-Art of the University of Thessalonica)



Avdélla and Perivóli, where the export of woollen goods contributed in no small way to an increase in that region's commerce. Of particular importance was the craft of knife-making in Samarína (though it exists no longer), while the drivers and carters (κιρατζῆδες) from this township





were known íar and wide, travelling with their caravans to Constantinople, Berat, Avlón (Vlone), Préveza, etc. Elegant houses, newly built churches and older ones restored, with a wealth of frescoes and wood-carving, all testify to the prosperity of the district during this period. Painting in particular was cultivated with great success. Artists from



Fig. 135. Woman's dress from Nymphaeon, near Florina

Fig. 135. Woman's dress from Nymphaeon, near Florina.



Samarína have left fine examples of their work in the villages around, and even as far afield as the Peloponnese [1].


Siátista (see fig. 136) presents us with a similar picture between 1600 and 1800, when it shared the economic prosperity enjoyed by all the towns and cities of Western Macedonia. Merchants of Siátista transported to Central Europe (especially to Austria and Hungary) and Germany (to Leipzig in particular) hides, furs, red-thread, saffron and raw cotton. In return they imported silk and woollen textiles, vessels of



1. Vacalopoulos, Ἱστορικαὶ ἔρευναι ἐν Σαμαρίνῃ, «Γρηγόριος ὁ Παλαμᾶς» 21 (1937) 23-25. See also interesting information in Krystallis, Ἅπαντα, Athens 1959, vol. 2, pp. 478-487. Regarding Samarína, see also Hâciu, Aromânii, pp. 82-90. See details about the other Vlach villages on pp. 90-100.





fine glass and porcelain, large mirrors with gilt carved-wood frames, etc. Nearly every family had at least one member abroad. Most heads of families had worked abroad for anything between twelve and twenty years in some city of Central Europe or Italy, and they all spoke German or Italian. So great, in fact, was Siátista's wealth that the surrounding villages called it 'the village of the goldcoins' and its womenfolk 'ϕλουροῦδες' [1].



Fig. 136. Siátista

Fig. 136. Siátista.

(Schultze Jena, Makedonien, plate 72, opposite p. 168)



Ali Pasha's baneful domination of these parts of Western Macedonia around the end of the 18th century served only to increase the flow of emigrants. Instead of carrying on their trade with other countries through the medium of their foreign or fellow-Greek representatives abroad, a large number of the merchants of Siátista, Moschopolis, Korytsá, Kastoriá, Sélitsa, Kozáni and Sérvia emigrated themselves



1. See A. Lazarou, Σιάτιστα, «Μακεδονικὸν Ἡμερολόγιον» 3 (1910) 139-140, 141-142. See also J. Apostolou, Ἱστορία τῆς Σιατίστης, Athens 1929, pp. 7-14, where the author supports many of Lazarou' details. On the eparchy of Sisánion and Siátista generally at the beginning of the 20th century see Anonymous, Ἐπαρχία Σισανίου καὶ Σιατίστης, «Μακεδονικὸν Ἡμερολόγιον» 6 (1913) 206-212. Leake, Travels, vol. 1, p. 507.





bo the countries they had been trading with, or to other parts of Turkey [1]. The urban class which had begun to emerge and develop in the larger towns of this part of Western Macedonia, found the environment unfavourable, and the majority left the region in search of better conditions elsewhere, settling permanently in other countries or in different parts of the Ottoman Empire (particularly in those places where they had made money as merchants).


Up till 1800, Siátista had some 200 commercial businesses, which carried on a lively trade with Austria and Venice. Among the most eminent merchants were John and Athanasius Manousis (one of the latter's descendants was Theodore Manousis, the first professor of Hi-tory at Athens University), Demetrius and Nicholas Hadjimichael, Doukas Hadjimichael, Joseph Nakou, Adam, Demetrius and Katerini Tsetiris, Anastasios Doudoumis, and others. Quite a number of Siatistans resident abroad made substantial contributions to their native town, giving assistance to destitute families, supporting the school's finances, building roads and sewers and constructing fountains, churches and other public buildings [2].


At the time when Pouqueville visited Siátista at the beginning of the 19th century, the town had 1.700 houses with a number of huts on its perimeter. He records: "My surprise was considerable when, crossing the bazaar, enhanced by fine business premises, I came upon houses that were well-constructed. I was delighted with the scene: the town, which was entirely Greek, had an air of leisure and cleanliness such as one can find nowhere in Turkey" [3].


Siátista's prosperity favoured two distinct elements in the make-up of her community: a disposition towards action in the cause of liberation and a keen interest in education. George Papazolis, for instance,



1. Leake, Travels, vol. 1, p. 310. For a general account of the inhabitants' troubles at the time of Ali Pasha see pp. 308-310. See also the translation and comments in John A. Tozis, Σιατιοτινά, «Μακεδονικὰ» 2 (1941-52) 313-324. See, too, information of Ch. Megdanis in Maloutas, Σερβία, 1956 edit., p. 74.


2. See Lazarou, Σιάτιστα, pp. 151-152. Apostolou, Ἱστορία τῆς Σιατίστης, pp. 14-18. See also Zotos Molossos, Ἠπειρωτικαὶ μακεδονικαὶ μελέται, τεῦχ. Δ', p. 238.Agood deal of information about Siátista can also be found in the unpublished and as yet unanalyzed register (commonly ascribed to Zosimas), which is found in the Metropolitan Church of Siátista: Kalinderis, Σημειώματα, pp. 7-9. See also Sigalas, Ἀπὸ τὴν πνευματικὴν ζωὴν τῶν ἑλληνικῶν κοινοτήτων τῆς Μακεδονίας, pp. 119-120.


3. F. G.H. L. Pouqueville, Voyage de la Grèce, Paris 1826, vol. 2, p. 78. See translation and notes in Tozis, ibid., pp. 324-328.





the prime mover of the 1770 insurrection, had been a merchant in Siátista before he enlisted in the Russian army [1]. In the context of education mention must be made of the celebrated teacher Methodius Anthrakites, who taught in Siátista probably from the end of 1720 to the end of 1722 [2]. Among those who contributed to the school's upkeep were the brothers Papademetris and Constantine Païkos [3]. However, as was so often the case in other Western Macedonian towns, the school was unable to function regularly. We learn, for instance, that in 1816 a benefactress of Siátista bequeathed 40.000 kuruş for the re-founding of the school [4]. Before the outbreak of the 1821 insurrection the teacher at the school had been Argyrios Papa Rizou (1805-1820). While the school was closed during the War of Independence, i.e. from 1821 to 1830, Papa Rizou taught at Sérres (whithér he had been invited) and performed valuable services in that city [5].


Α number of men of science and letters from Siátista brought credit to their native town after taking up residence abroad. Among these one might cite the doctor Dem. Karakasis, George Rousis, doctor and philosopher, and George Zaviras, who pined so much after the glories of ancient Greece [6]. The nucleus of Siátista's present library (now housed in new premises) is owed to contributions of books and funds bequeathed by various literary figures born in the town. Α large number of old and rare books are to be found therein, especially editions of ancient Greek authors, historical works, and suchlike, which serve to highlight the absorbing interest taken in the ancient writers.



1. Lazarou, Σιάτιστα, p. 150.


2. See P. Κ. Chrestou, Μεθόδιος Ἀνθρακίτης. Βίος – δρᾶσις - ἀνέκδοτα ἔργα, Yannina 1953, pp. 12-13.


3. Evangelides, Παιδεία, vol. 1, p. 147, note 3.


4. Ibid., 1, p. 148. See also G. P. Angelopoulos, Τὰ κατὰ τοῦ a]οίδιμον Γρηγόριον τὸν E', Athens 1865, vol. 1, pp. 298-302.


5. Evangelides, ibid., vol. 1, pp. 141, 148.


6. See Μ. Paranikas, Σχεδίασμα, Constantinople 1867, pp. 54-55. See Zaviras' will, an interesting document recently published by Ö. Füves, Zavirasz György végrendete, «Különlen. az Tanulmányok 1968», évi XV/1, Számából (Budapest 1968) 90-93.


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