The folk textiles of Crete : A study of folk art in its context
This thesis aims to take a small body of folk art material and place it in
its broadest social, economic and cultural context.
The items on which this discussion is based are the domestic folk textiles
of Crete. This material was chosen for several reasons; Crete has always
been a cross-roads in the Mediterranean and as a result of its varied
history it is likely to show clearly any influence which historical and
social background may have on folk art.
The thesis begins with a discussion of folk art in general and Greek folk
art in particular. It is suggested that folk art is above all the product of the
environment in which it was produced and that it is made in essentially
traditionalr ural societiesb y thoseb y whom it will be used.
This theory is then applied over five chapters to Cretan folk textiles,
beginning by taking the objects in their broadest possible context and
homing in on the more specific aspects of their function and use.
First the varied history of Crete is examined and it is deduced that the
foreign governors of Crete during the Modem period exercised
considerable control over the native population, their influence permeating
The origin of the raw materials involved in the production of textiles is
then examined with special reference to the availability and movement of
the materials concerned. They are found to come predominantly from very
close to their site of use.
The textiles are examined as artefacts in their own right and found to
serve practical, decorative and social functions. In the last case they
appear in large quantities as dowry goods and as such are capable of
representing skill, wealth and status.
Finally, the techniques and designs on both weavings and embroideries are
examined. The result is a combination of native and foreign devices,
together with many of those features which are found on folk art all over
In this way it is argued that folk art is reflection of its environment in its
broadest sense and to remove such artefacts from their context is to risk
misunderstanding their character, function and appearance.