Description: http://www.voloper.com/projects/opensites3/cyprus/nasos_1554/images/sce/basketry%202.jpgBASKETRY 

Basket-making is one of the oldest handicrafts and has been going on for generations without any significant changes.

Cyprus' natural resources always provide suitable raw material in abundance. Very few tools are needed and used by craftsmen to make the wide variety of baskets in different shapes and sizes suitable for many uses.

Uses

The need for gathering and carrying goods such as potatoes, grapes, olives, fruit, and so on led to the creation of items to be used for this purpose. Plaited strips of rushes, reeds or leaves of date palms were used to make soft baskets for the commercial transportation of crops or for domestic purposes.

Raw Material & Types of Baskets

Out of all the raw material used, the easiest to find is the hard reed. It is also the easiest to use, because when soaked in water it becomes quite flexible. Furthermore, it comes in different sizes and lengths.

In some cases, thin flexible twigs from trees or bushes, such as turpentine tree, monks' tree and wild olive tree are used together with the hard reed. In some villages they make different shapes of baskets using only twigs. They also use twigs to dress large glass containers, protecting them in this way from breaking, and the contents from light. The big baskets are used mainly for carrying grapes, while the glass containers for storing olive oil, wine and zivania, a local spirit.

Apart from cane, raw material that are still used today are the different kinds of rushes such as jancus acutus, erianthus, cat's tail or club rush for carrying delicate crops. Large baskets, farti, were used mainly for carrying light products and zembilia for the olives crops. The double baskets, sirizes, were placed on donkeys and were used for carrying salt form the lakes, and the long strap zembili, slung over the left shoulder of the farmer, was used for sowing the seeds in the fields. The workers carried their olives and cheese for lunch in small lidded baskets called korokolios. The bread was kept in a tapatzia (soft basket with a cord) hanging from the ceiling in the kitchen. The Talaria (type of soft baskets), widely used even today, are for draining and pressing Cyprus cheeses.

Palm leaves, rope from stubble and straw, were also used for making a variety of items. Tsestoi were always used in the homes to dry in the sun local foods, such as phides (type of noodles) and trachanas (raw form of food made of wheat and milk), to keep the bread and flaounes (Easter cheese pies), and most importantly to carry the koulouria (type of bread) used as invitations for weddings and to exhibit the bride's dowry during wedding