One of the professions which had survived on the island was that of the “agogiatis” (driver). The “agogiates (plural form of agogiatis)” were the ones who undertook the transfer of goods mainly by using camels, donkeys, mules or wagons. What is noteworthy is that up until the decade of the 50s there were a lot of camels on the island which were mainly used for the transfer of heavy sacks over long distances, while the “agogiates” would stop to rest and eat in one of the inns or other similar premises.
According to Ionas, barbers in the village were mainly wandering and would usually offer their services in coffee-shops. In fact, they would undertake not only the haircut and shaving of the villagers but also the extraction of teeth. After shaving they used to put some “zivania” or rose water on the customers’ faces.
The profession of the blacksmith survived in several Cypriot villages. The services of the blacksmith were necessary for farmers and craftsmen such as shoe-makers and builders. The blacksmiths would make and repair metal tools and parts that other professionals used. The tools and parts they made included shovels, sickles, pruning scissors, shoe-makers’ nails, pulleys and chisels. Also, they would make various useful household objects such as locks, baby cots and bars.
In the agricultural society there were shepherds who had their own flocks, as well as shepherds who took care of flocks that belonged to large land owners.
- Kakopetria(link ‘Life in the Village / Traditional Professions)
Kallikas (Horseshoe fixer)
Being a horseshoe fixer was one of the professions that was particularly necessary due to the needs of agricultural life. The horseshoe fixer would attach, once or twice a year, horseshoes to the hoofs of the animals, both to donkeys and mules, which were quite useful for the daily life of farmers, so that they could walk with ease.
The profession of the builder is one of the oldest professions which survive up until today. According to Ioannis Iona, learning the skill of building would begin at an early age. In particular, the father used to decide whether an 11 or 12-year-old boy would leave school and become an apprentice of a builder to learn the skill of construction. The aforementioned decision of the father was associated with the belief that being a builder would earn them a satisfying income.
- Askas (link: ‘Life in the Village / Traditional)
- Kakopetria(link: ‘Life in the Village / Traditional Professions’)
The chair maker would make traditional chairs which constituted part of every household’s furniture. Nowadays, such chairs continue to exist at the coffee shops of the villages.
One of the most important professions of Cyprus was that of the silk processor, who was a craftsman who would remove the silk from the silk-worm cocoon to produce thread.
- Kakopetria (link: ‘Life in the Village/Traditional Professions’)
Nowadays, in several villages of Cyprus there are old water and olive mills which have been salvaged over time. The miller of the olive mill and the water mill was responsible for the operation of the mill. The operation of the traditional mills seized approximately in the middle of the 20th century.
In the past there used to be wood craftsmen who would mainly make various wooden tools, as well as wood carvers who would decorate various wooden household objects, such as mirrors and cupboards.
The profession of the mattress carder is one of the traditional professions that were gradually abandoned due to industry. The mattress carder would mainly produce and repair pillows, mattresses and cotton quilts.
The profession of the carpenter or cabinet maker is another one of the traditional professions of Cyprus. The carpenter undertakes the making of furniture such as tables and cupboards, as well as the making of the wooden equipment of houses including the wooden roof and, the doors and the windows of a house.
- Kakopetria (link: ‘Life in the Village/Traditional Professions)
‘Stratouras’ was the craftsman who made a kind of donkey saddle called ‘stratourka’ and which was placed on both donkeys and mules that were used for transports. The ‘Stratourka’ were particularly resistant and were made of thick cotton materials. These were attached on the back and top of the animals and according to the Great Cyprus Encyclopaedia they had a ‘Π’ shape.
- Kakopetria(link: ‘Life in the Village/Traditional Professions’)
Turners were workers whose main tool was a turning machine called shaping lathe. This lathe was used to decorate wooden objects and pottery.
Up until the end of the 20th century, in several villages of Cyprus there used to be someone who dealt with shoe making. The shoe maker was the person who would make and repair the leather boots of the villagers.
In the areas neighbouring with forests there were many residents who dealt with logging, although this was not their main occupation.
- Xyliatos (link: ‘Traditional’)
- Kakopetria(link: ‘Life in the Village/Traditional Professions’)
Clay pottery was necessary for every household and mainly for storing various products. Each potter would specialise in a particular style, as well as in the production of pottery that had a specific shape and size.
Silversmithing works constitute important aspects of folk art. Kato Lefkara is one of the villages of Cyprus with an important history in the art of silversmithing.
Basketry is an art that survives even today. In some villages of Cyprus there are people who are familiar with this art and are able to produce various types of baskets, such as ‘tsestos’ and ‘corves’.
- Limnati (link: ‘Traditional Professions’)
Production of ropes
The production of ropes was one of the most demanding tasks a person had to perform. The process of selecting and collecting the plant appropriate to use for the production of the rope up to the preparation of the rope required a lot of effort and several days of hard work.
- Tala (link: ‘Traditional Arts’)
Production of bricks
In some villages of Cyprus there were workers who used the soil of the area to make bricks and tiles which were first placed into kilns made from soil, the well-known ‘kaminia’.
The decoration of the pumpkin called ‘ploumisma’ is an art known to several villages of Cyprus. The pumpkins were used as containers.
- Tala(link: ‘Traditional Arts’)
Production of textile products and the Art of Embroidery
The arts of producing textile products and embroideries were known to several villages of Cyprus. In the past, women would weave several textile products on the loom, such as dresses, sheets and curtains. In many parts of Cyprus there are distinctive embroideries including the ‘pipila’ made in the village of Omodos, the embroideries made in the village of Fiti, the famous ‘lefkaritika’ embroideries made in the village of Lefkara and embroideries made using a big needle called ‘smili’
Websites of Community Councils refered in the text.
Ioannis Ionas, Traditional Cyprus Professions, Lefkosia, 2001
Great Cyprus Encyclopaedia, Filokypros Publications, 1986
Cyprus Handicraft Service Website