Picture Bible of Mani
Presents Stunning Pictorial
Chronograph of Southern Lakonia: A Review by Mary Papoutsy

Title: Picture Bible of Mani
Author: Yiannis Vurlitis [Vourlitis], Photographer
Editorial Directors: Donald-George McPhail, George Dimakoyiannis
Publisher: Adouloti Mani, Areopoli, Mani, Greece, P.D. (Postal Code) 230 62
ISBN: 96-87030-4-2
Description: 356pp oversize hardcover; more than 400 bxw illus.
Price: 65 Euros (approximately US$100); shipping from Greece will be a sizeable additional fee, since the book weighs about 4 pounds (perhaps as much as US$30).
Availability: Aduloti Mani BookStore, Areopoli, Mani, Greece, P.D. 230 62; Tel/Fax: (from US) 011-30-27330-53670; Adouloti Mani Publishing House, mail@mani-ekdoseis.gr ; or contact publishers directly.

Last fall we, the publishers of Hellenic Communication Service, had met in Athens with Donald-George McPhail, co-editor and publisher of the magazine Mani: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow. Although we had discussed a number of topics, all of which HCS readers would find interesting, there was one that especially caught our attention. McPhail related how he and his colleague, George Dimakoyiannis, had been granted permission by noted Greek photographer Yiannis Vourlitis to reproduce his historical collection of black-and-white photos of Mani. A native of this unique and dramatic land, Vourlitis had toured throughout the entire region from the 50s to the 80s, snapping shots of every aspect of local life and the rocky cradle of Maniot culture. The collection has been exhibited throughout Greece and Europe, having faithfully captured the essence of Mani before the region underwent many modern transformations. And it is the first time that such a significant, complete collection of works about Mani by a single artist has been reproduced in hardcover book format. This collection of over 400 images, therefore, represents the Mani of our heroic families, those whose forbears had led the charge to repel the Muslim Ottoman occupiers so many decades ago.

The collection is quite comprehensive and visually stunning. Dramatic panoramas and seascapes appear side-by-side with local inhabitants, architecturally significant buildings, and typical village scenes. A span of seasons, weather, and activity delight the viewer. For example, there are several breathtaking shots of stormy seas lashing the harbor at Gytheion. In another section of this album there are views of children playing ball in the street. Other images capture mature women engaged in traditional handcrafts. One hardy young woman posed for Vourlitis while she was hunting with a rifle and full cartridge of bullets. Fishermen mend their nets in yet other images. The photographer even captured local youth dressed in traditional costumes as they reenacted Maniot warriors taking an oath before launching their revolutionary activities in the early 1800s. Traditional Maniot towers and Byzantine churches abound throughout this unsurpassed album, their proud and lofty walls offering dramatic contrast in an array of lighting conditions.

See our listing of the villages and areas included in the collection, an omission from the album that represents a small oversight on the part of the publishers. Since the album represents an invaluable historical and genealogical reference tool, such an index would assist readers and researchers in locating specific images and information more easily

". . any person interested in Greek history, culture, or geography will want to own a copy of . . . Picture Bible of Mani."
As veteran Greek reviewer and scholar Kargakos has so rightly noted, however, this album isn't a tourists' guide. Nor is it a tourists' coffee-table album. It is "the Mani that we Maniots know and see and inhabit. . . . , a monument of suffering, a remnant of an ancient, once invincible stock of Spartans."

ut what also sets this lovely tome apart from many other "picture books of Greece," beyond from its valuable artistic and historical contribution, is that non-Greek-speaking persons can enjoy this collection. For the book includes captions of every image in two languages, Greek and English. Sons and daughters of Mani who are living abroad will want to purchase at least one of these hefty volumes--each weighs four pounds!--as part of their own family history collection or as gifts. Many family towers ("pyrgoi") and compounds are mentioned by name; among the properties depicted are holdings of the Alepis, Alitzerinakos, Bare-lakos, Christeas, Damianakos, Dekou-lakos, Demesticha, Dimitrakarakos, Dourakis, Fikardos, Fokades, Georgakis, Grigorakis, Hatzakos, Kalkantis, Ka-petanakis, Kapitsinos, Kiskira,Kitriniaris, Kontakos, Kou-moundourakis, Lagoudis, Leotsarakos, Maniatakos, Mav-romihalis, Melissinos, Mesi-sklis, Mourtzinos, Nikolinakos, Pikoulaks, Sklavounakos, Stamatakos, Starogiannis, Sta-thakos, Stefanopoulos, Ti-gourios, Troupakis, Vagiakakos, Venetsanakis, Voudikla-ris, Vougiouklakis, and Xintarakos families. Programs in Modern Greek studies should also plan to place this book on their library acquisition list, since it clearly documents a rural way of life now lost. But the collection of images is simply so outstanding, that any person interested in Greek history, culture, or geography will want to own a copy of this important Picture Bible of Mani.

Sufficient copies have been printed to fill worldwide demand, but arrangements will have to be made through the editors/publishers, McPhail and Dimakoyiannis, for purchase. As of October 2004 the price of the album was 65 Euros, translating now into nearly 100 dollars (U.S.). Shipping will run extra because of the oversize dimensions and weight of the book--about four pounds.

HCS has also included translations or copies of introductory remarks by the photographer, editors, and well-respected scholars, as well as a list of all of the villages and locations whose images appear in the album. For additional information or details, contact the publishers or view the website of their magazine Mani: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow. But don't delay in purchasing this album, for it represents one of the finest efforts ever to capture the soul of a region pictorially. Quite simply, as Kargakos states,
"it is the best material about Mani that has so far appeared." All future picture albums will be judged against the new standard set by this monumental work.

Additional Links

Kargakos Review of Picture
Bible of Mani

Publishers Foreward for Picture
Bible of Mani

List of Photographs in Picture Bible
of Mani

Athens Academy Scholar Vagiakakos
About Picture Bible of Mani

Vourlitis Preface for Picture Bible
of Mani

About the Publishers of Adouloti Mani
Publishing House

View Sample Collection of Photographs
from Picture Bible of Mani

About Mani: Yesterday, Today,
Tomorrow (magazine)

Return to Genealogy Main Page

(Posted originally March 2005; reformatted February 2007)

2000 © Hellenic Communication Service, L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.