The testimony reflects the nightmare of the Holocaust June 10, 1944 in Distomo, where 223 people -including elders, women and children- were massacred by the fourth Constitution of Police SS in retaliation for the losses the Germans had by partisans of the 3rd Constitution of the 34th battalion of ELAS (National Lberation Front).
|old lady in Crete|
Black was (and still is) synonymous with mourning in Greece. For a very long time, there was always someone in the family mourning for the loss of other members; be it from famine, or war, or hostile acts related losses (the Civil War, the Turkish invasion of Cyprus) ; or some of these combined. The longest time of continuous peace in Greece has been a mere 48 years (since 1974). This is why there are so many little old ladies clad in black attire, all wrinkled up in folklore pictures circulating all over the net; they still mourn family members lost in Nazi atrocities most likely.
The tradition in villages was that if you lost your parents it was customary to wear black for at least 40 days (though many opted for a lot longer); if you lost a spouse, habitually for 7 years (or as long as you considered yourself a widow after that); and if you lost a child....you never got out of black, you wore it for life....
|papa-Noufrakis (the priest head of Orthodox Mass at the St.Sophia in 1919 in Istanbul)|
Black is also the colour of choice for the clergy. From head to toe. Solemn and in accordance to the suffering of the grieving parish. Every parish had their own grievers, you see.
Mourning sometimes gets to an almost nationalistic level. The classic Cretan attire is consisting of black shirt (morning for the losses in the Cretan war against the Turks), beige or midnight blue jodhpurs ("vraka", a classic rider's pair of pants), black boots and a black crocheted handrkerchief tied on the forehead (the "sariki"). The tassels on the latter are representing tears for the Greek holocaust at Arcadi monastery.
[I have to say, despite myself, I find the effect very virile-looking.]
Black looks exceptionally good under the intense sun, against the white houses and the blue sea (as does white) or the grey of the rock. This is probably why it ended up defining Greek style. All the other colours gain an added intensity under the sun, sometimes to the point of blinding. You just can't go wrong with black.
|Elli Lambeti in A Girl in Black (1956)|
|dance performance En Attendant|
|dress by Elena Troulakis|
|Dress by Elena Troulakis|
photos via costumes.gr, kairatos.com.gr,greekfilmfestival.com.au, 2rizospastis.gr, ethnos.gr, infokids.gr