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Δευτέρα, 9 Ιουνίου 2008

Δωσεκανησιακό Ημερολόγιο 1924
Αλεξάνδρεια-Αίγυπτος



I love old stories.This story I will share with you today,came in a very peculiar way to my knowledge.I was in Alexandria in Egypt,and was looking through some old books,in a shacky place that once might have been a bookstore.I can spend hours in shops like this.Anyways,as you all might know,Alexandria was inhabited by some 100,000 Greeks until the late 1950's.Then they were all thrown out by Nasser the then socialist president of Egypt.Alexandria at that time was a center of Greek cultural life and a very cosmopolitan city.Well while I was looking through the old books,a Greek book came to my hands.The title "The Dodecanesian calender,published in 1924 in Alexandria.In this fascinating book,i found so much information,old stories,photos of the Dodecanese islands of the times.Traditional songs,costumes of each island and so forth.A real and rare treasure.
The following story comes from this rare book,and its a forgotten story about the island of kasos and how the 6 new villages of the island were created (including one Albanian-Arvanitochori ) after its total distraction by the pirates,why the people there are mixed with Egyptian blood,and more interestingly why society on kasos is matriarchal(run by women) instead of being run by men like the rest of Greece.This story was recited by an old man in the 1920's.So it must be about 200 years old.I translated it for you from Greek to English.I hope you enjoy it and if there is anybody from kasos,I hope they keep this story and pass it down.
By the way,Kasos Island, the most remote and unspoiled island of the Dodecanese.

THE STORY


When the Algerian pirates raided the islands and the shores of the Mediterranean,among others,they plundered the island of kasos,they pillaged the land,and abducted its inhabitants,taking them as slaves,and only a small part of them managed to escape to lands in Egypt,where it was safe from the raids of the pirates.They remained there waiting for better days to come,so that they could return to their beloved little island.During this period,where no-one was living on the island anymore,while travelling about five or six seamen arrived on kaso's shores.Among them as also an Albanian.They moored there,and decided to establish themselves permanently on the island.However because they did not have any plans to become monks,but to create a settlement,and to leave descendants,they found themselves in the same situation,as the first inhabitants of Rome had before.They were out of women as well.The inhabitants of Rome found women by deception.They new settlers of kasos decided to find women by asking and taking.They therefore made in a council,and were thinking together which island girls would be better as wives.For being closer and faster,the first proposal was to ask for wives from the island of karpathos."No" replied one of them.The women from karpathos are wicked,and they don't grow old with only one man."Should we go to Rhodes then?""Not there either said another one.In Rhodes women are so hairy and they shave.In the beginning,their face looks so shiny but in a few days,it looks like bread with sesame seeds.""why we don't ask from the island of Chalki?""From Chalki? But as we arrive there,we will go honorably and quietly to ask for wives,but they will misunderstand us,and since they are very bullish,they will drive us out by beating us up."Should we head for the island of Simi?""No! no! The men and women from Simi go to the taverns,they get together there,drink and get drunk,turn of the lights,and who ever finds whom.The Northern winds were an obstacle for them to think of heading for islands farther up.For this reason they decided to leave for the island of Crete.In Crete during that time there was a horrible famine.Much hunger existed on the island.When the Cretan men and women saw the ship arriving ,they all went down to the shore to find out what cargo was being brought."We brought nothing" answered the future grooms,dressed in their best clothes and trying to give the greatest impression."And what is your purpose for coming here?" asked the CretansThe seamen told them their intentions and since they came in peace,they were allowed to disembark.Before they gave them an answer,the Cretan women thought that it would be good to ask what were their jobs first."We are seamen" they answered."Seamen?!Go look somewhere else! We don't take seamen as husbands! We want our men all the time in our beds! Not every six months or even more to have them"!Being very disappointed from there,they took for the island of Santorini,but the northern winds brought them back to Crete again.When the Cretans saw them returning,say they felt sorry of them,say they didn't know why,they made them the offer to marry them with their servant girls brought over from Egypt.In their desperation,and in their impatience to find wives,the grooms accepted the offer even if their women would not be Greek.However the offer was not without any conditions.The Cretan women demanded for a contract to be signed in which the following draconian terms would be implemented.The women should rule over the men.The women should hold the money.The women should marry their daughters with out asking their husbands.The contract was signed,the weddings were performed,and the seamen with the Egyptian women,embarked on the ship heading for deserted kasos where they would multiply the human spices.On Kasos each created his own settlement,and today kasos has six villages including the village of the Albanian seaman.In this settlement,the women ruled over the men,the women were in charge of the money,and the women married their daughters without asking for the permission of their husbands.These women became the best wives anybody can imagine.Times got better,and the kasians who survived the slaughter from the pirates returned back to kasos.At least those that could returned.The kasian women adopted the privileges of the Egyptian wives of the seamen,because it was in their self interest,and with these,many of their attributes.The men,whether they liked it or not,surrendered under the authority of the women,as an extension of the Cretan contract,and since then,in kasos,the women rule over the men.They run matters in their households and they are the head of the family and they are thrifty as it cannot be imagined.If one takes away these privileges from the women of Kasos,they could die,because they will never give them away willingly.However,the men of the island don't take them away,and the household is always clean,and economy with peace and order reigns in it.
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