Picture Bible of Mani

A Review by Sarantos Kargakos,

scholar and journalist, appearing in the newspaper
on 30 October 2004.

Translation and editing by Mary Papoutsy,
Publisher of Hellenic Communication Service

The publishing house, Adouloti Mani, which was established at Areopolis, formerly known by our grandfathers as Tsimova, but whose activity reaches the Hebrus River, has added another remarkable publication about Mani to its catalog, an aesthetic and intellectual effort: an album devoted to this rugged area with its unconquered soul that embeds itself into the heart of the Mediterranean like the talon of a dragon.

I have previously reported on the works of this publishing house--which also concurrently produces the periodical Mani: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow--not from the viewpoint of a native of this area, nor as a result of my friendship with the publishers George Dimakogiannis and Donald-George McPhail, this admirable Maniatis with Scotch roots, but because I always support intellectual efforts that rise above the mainstream.

The album Picture Bible of Mani is a work of a poet of the lens, Yiannis Vourlotis, who is so tied to the region that one could easily call him the "new Pausanias of Mani," a new traveler from Asia Minor who doesn't record with paper and pen, but with light. He photographs. With his professional lens he captures the timeless seconds of ordinary moments and perennial shapes which he elevates to the height of a memorial. I have elsewhere reported on the artistic offerings of Yiannis Vourlotis who studied closely with the old-time photographer of Gytheion, Panagiotis Monemvasitis, in front of whose lens proudly stood all the women of Mani during as bygone epoch. Only Yiannis Vourlotis didn’t fall into the trap of becoming a photographer for postcard images.

He wanted to delve deep into the landscape of the human and natural world, into the rocks of the soul and the soul of the rocks. From 1958 he toiled to present this Mani not as a scenic landscape, not as a geographical curiosity, but as a monument of suffering, as a remnant of an ancient, once invincible stock of Spartans.

In his simple preface, the creator didn't write much, just a few Doric words. And just a few words likewise came from my friends Dikaios Vagiakakos and Voula Damianakos. Very few words, too, from the publishers. There wasn't a need for many words. The album speaks for itself. Yiannis Vourlotis knows how to accomplish great things with simple tools. He knows how to do it, more or less, as the good housewife performs the Maniot funeral dirge. His chief subjects are the Maniot towers, the symbols of a rebellious Maniot soul, but also the tiny huts, the ancient churches, the Indian figs--old figures that pain and poverty have whipped. The black kerchief, the "flood of tears." In the photographs on pages 122-123 a tragic chorus of dirge singers is depicted. The topmost figure, as though to jump out from the page, comes to the forefront to search for a reason why God scatters death not among the aged trees but among the green shoots.

Don't hesitate to purchase this album, to take a visual tour. It isn't a tourist's guide. It is the authentic Mani that we Maniots know and see and inhabit. It is the best material about Mani that has so far appeared. Bravo, Yianni Vourloti, the admirable man from Gytheion, and to the heroic publishers of the Picture Bible of Mani!

List of Photographs of Picture
Bible of Mani

Publishers Foreward for Picture
Bible of Mani

HCS Review of 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,

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