Nisos Skyros - Linaria
18 October 2022
This figure stands outside a hotel. I don't like it at all. It frightens me and reminds me of The Grim Reaper. But I needed to find out exactly what it is.
Known as Koudounati - the bell bearers - they play the lead role in the weeks leading up to the 40 day fasting period before the Greek Orthodox Easter. They can be found strolling through the narrow alleyways piercing the still air with the clatter of the bells and on the last weekend before Ash Monday, starting from the castle, in the early evening of the Saturday, dozens of these traditional figures parade down through the main street to the main square where everyone would gather to dance.
Men play the role of 'geros' and wear a furry black cape, white trousers, a waist belt of goat bells - weighing in at around fifty kilos and a hanging goat skin to cover their faces. Jumping around and waving their wooden sticks, they are accompanied by the veiled 'korela' - the island girls dressed in white and yellow waving a scarf to lead the way.
This celebration is not only about the coming of Lent but about the end of winter and the start of spring as well as the mythical tales of a young Achilles who used Skyros as his hiding place to avoid being dragged into the Trojan war where he was disguised as a girl.
It must be a fantastic spectacle but I think a bit scary !