Mani the Land and the People

By D. Vagiakakos,

Director of the Committee for Compilation of the Historical Dictionary of the Athens Academy

He who will arrive in the land of Mani in the summer and will walk in the streets and its villages either as a visitor or as a student of its history and the customs of the land may seek to cool himself at noon in the shadow of the blessed olive trees or in the sparkling water of a flower decorated or sandy beach. But even in the winter when the bells toll from the wind that relentlessly whips the mountains and the trees, can the visitor enjoy the warmth of the hospitality by the fire place of the Maniot tower. However, if it happens to be spring on arrival, he will see in front of him a colorful carpet of scented wild flowers down to the endless deep blue of the Mediterranean sea.

In Mani, the land and the people, the people and history are closely associated as a unit that differs greatly from the rest of the Greek territory.

Bare mountains that extend through the region down to Tainaron, where the ancient Greeks put the Gate of Hades, crags and Towers that lance the horizon, tower secured villages drowned in the sea of olive trees, ruins of villages and castles that speak about the history of the land. Byzantine churches which, with their domes seek elevation to the skies, caves with items that lead us to the first period of human life and with their artistic presence astonish us for the work of nature, all these together constitute the landscape of Mani.

Men who live according to the unwritten laws of the land, free themselves, yet volunteer warriors for the freedom of others, women guardians of tradition and fighters like the Amazons when their country is endangered by enemies and become with their mourning songs priestesses of lamentation and revenge, when "death" or "killing" lacerates their hearts: these are the Maniots. All these comprise Mani that charms the visitor with the landscape but puzzles him with its people.

This Mani as a detail and as a unit, people, history and land, Mr. Yiannis Vourlitis tried hard to rescue and imprint on artistic photographs.

Each photograph is a historical, archaeological, folklore issue. For the Maniot who knows his land is a living performance, it is something that reminds him of many. It is the Tower of his generation, it is the Church of his village, it is the bays and the beaches, it is the ruins--paliochora--and the castle of his region. It is himself, it is Mani. There is his cradle and there is where he wishes to be buried.

The woman in black is the mourner and his mistress, his mother, his sister. Her mourning song shakes him up and this is what he wishes to accompany him, when he dies, so he may not pass the gate of Hades unlamented.

This constitution of photographs that Mr. Vourlitis donates us presents, for the Maniot, the entire Mani. It is the mirror of its soul and image. But also for the foreigner who the curiosity of knowledge led there, every photograph is a theme of memory and study. It is what will always preserve the image and the history of Mani, which will puzzle him every time about the land and its people with the same power that kept him curious and astonished before the Doric figure of the Mani tower, in his first live contact with the land and the people.

With this constitution of photographs he will have with him Mani.

Kargakos Review of Picture Bible
of Mani

Publishers Foreward for Picture Bible
of Mani

HCS Review of Picture Bible of Mani

List of Photographs in 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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