HOMEPAGE
MESSAGE
COMMUNITY COUNCIL
HISTORY
LEFKARITIKO LACE
USEFUL INFORMATION
TOUR
CHURCH / CHAPELS
TRADITIONAL SILVERSMITHING
PROJECTS
CULTURE / SPORTS
ENTERPRISES
ANNOUNCEMENTS
CONTACT US

 

TRADITIONAL SILVERSMITHING

 


THE SILVERSMITH’S CRAFT IN LEFKARA

“Argyros”, the known silver, is a white, soft metal that –among other things –has the property of not rusting. It is included in the precious metals.

In ancient Cyprus, apart from the copper mines, there also were gold, silver and other mines. Strabo also mentions mines of copper and silver in Cyprus, drawing this information from Eratosthenis: he writes that from of the thick forests of Cyprus they would cut timber both for building ships and for melting copper and silver. Cyprus is described as a country with mines of silver and copper.
It is probable that both gold and silver were discovered in Cyprus a little after Copper was discovered (3000-2500 B.C.). We must however assume that the scarce quantities of silver were not enough to cover the local needs. Nevertheless, since ancient times silver was used in Cyprus for the making of a number of items –as it is made evident by many archaeological findings.

The silversmith’s craft: The making of silver items in Cyprus can be proven –at least –since 2000 B.C. For Example, pins and clasps have been found in tombs dated in 1500-1200 B.C. A marvelous silver cup, decorated with gold and “niello” (a mixture of lead, sulfur, and other metals), was discovered in Egkomi and it is considered an excellent specimen of the silversmith’s craft.




The craft of silver-plating was widely used in Cyprus during the Christian years, many icons then being covered with silver leafs while at the same time this metal was also widely used in the making of ecclesiastical vessels (chalices, oil-lamps, etc.), in the making of crosses, in the construction of decorated covers for gospels, etc.

Today the craft of the silversmith & the goldsmith in Cyprus combines the long tradition with the modern trends and conceptions. Specimens of this modern art are presented in well-established, annual exhibitions.
At the same time, the Cypriot folkloric craftsman – silversmith still exists in Cyprus. Unfortunately, today only one such craftsman –silversmith works in Kato Lefkara, working silver in the traditional way of the hammer (forging) and manufacturing the traditional Cypriot, ceremonial items –such as the censer, the holy-water sprinkler, and several other folkloric art items.

It is probable that the silversmith’s craft first appeared in the region of Kato Lefkara in the beginning of the 18th century. The above conclusion is reached due to the testimony of the history researcher Aristeidis N. Koudounaris and based on the dating of the collection of old silver-items that he has (buckles, bracelets, ear-rings, and crosses that he purchased from the known Jewish goldsmith of Larnaca, Leon Algazy, items which came from the region of Lefkara). Indeed, as the same person stresses, the silverware items were coated with enamel.

The craft of laying enamel, which also goes back deep into ancient times, seems to have also been known to the inhabitants and the silversmiths of Lefkara. Besides, from the entries in the «CODEX» of the church of “Stavros” one reaches the conclusion that silver ecclesiastical vessels such as oil-lamps were made in Lefkara in the middle of the 18th century (1742). Moreover, they brought over a craftsman from Rodos along with his apprentices and constructed the icon-screen as it now appears -chiseled –as well as the throne of the priest, the High Altar, and a silver oil-lamp with the expenses paid by the church.

So it seems that the craftsman from Rodos was not only a «wood-carver» but also a silversmith. Indeed, it is not entirely impossible that some apprentices from Lefkara studied under him and were initiated in his craft. From the description of Basil Grigorovich Barsky, a Russian monk, who visited Cyprus and the region of Lefkara in 1734, we receive the information that the Holy Cross of the church in Pano Lefkara was –as the time –made of silver.