Stivanadika

Stivanadika, on Srydlof Street, west of the Municipal Market, give on the feeling of a flea market with the strong smell of leather and the colorful items of Cretan folk art that are sold here.
In older times, however, this was the road of the Stivanades, the makers of Cretan Stivania (boots) that where part of the Cretan men's costume. Today one can buy local leather products and a plethora of souvenirs.

Knife Makers and Knife Making Workshops in Chania

Knife Makers existed in Heraklion since Venetian times and began flourishing in Chania as well during the Turkish occupancy. The first craftsmen were Turkish, but Cretan artisan soon began specializing in creating exquisite pieces. Both in Heraklion and Chania the areas where these craftsmen gathered where named Bitsaksidika from the word "bitsak" a type of middle eastern knife.

Knife makers in Chania settled next to the byzantine wall in a small trench that used to separate Kasteli from the rest of the city and had been preserved during the Turkish occupation.

Honorable knives decorated the waist of brave young men ready to be used in an hour of need. The knives had many names depending on their shape, size and type.

Slowly the engraved decoration on the blade of the knife gave way to a design of Crete and is some cases the initials or the name of the crafter and a small folk poem (mantinada) inspired by the maker or requested by the person purchasing the knife.

During the many years of battle the Cretan knives accomplished their purpose and now in times of peace serve as valuable gifts of friendship and appreciation.

The reputation of the Cretan knife has passed the borders of the island and has not only reached the rest of Greece but also distance countries. However, despite the increased demand traditional knife makers have started to fade and the seven furnaces that once burned in the Mitsaksidika are now cold.

Knife making has too entered the industrial era and mass production. Thankfully there are still few craftsmen that have kept this art alive in their hearts and still craft genuine Cretan knives with the traditional techniques.
Even though in many cases the Cretan knife was become a beloved souvenir of visitors' carefree vacations is still remains a holy and honored object in the hearts of the locals.

The Cretan Knife

The Cretan knife is part of both the Cretan traditional costume and the actual substance of Cretans. It is a favorite object that was not only used as a tool but as a weapon during Crete's darkest hours.

The typical Cretan knife that maintains its form to this day was created in the end of the 18th century. The unique way with which the tip of the knife was crafted gives a knife great piercing efficiency. The knife's tip is called 'Manika" and has many forms. There are three forms that are more commonly used. One type where the end of the grip looks like a beak, one where the end of the grip resembles those of nautical cutlasses of the 18th and 19th century and the third, the classic Cretan type, where the end of the handle has a V shape.

This "V" shape is the most common and can only be found on Cretan knifes giving them a topological uniqueness since this style of knife is not created anywhere else in the world.

This unique handle is made from horn, bone or polyester while the more lavish Cretan knives are made from Ivory. The bones are usually from cow legs and are prepared by boiling the bone in water, ash and lime for 5 hours exactly as it was done 5 centuries ago, so the bone become white and shinny before it is carved.

Tradition

Chania is characterized by a wealth of cultural tradition. The Cretan folk tradition is especially reflected through handicrafts, tapestries, etc. Women, individually or part as part of a coop, create silk and woolen embroideries. In Chania you can also find unique pieces of art made from glass, wood and metal as well as pottery, wood carving and metal crafting workshops.
The crafting of Stivania (a traditional leather Cretan boot) is also a unique art that you can witness on Skrydlof Street (Stivanadika). Another form of Cretan art is Knife crafting.

Visitors can enrich their travels by enjoying and participating in cultural events and getting acquainted with the unknown but very interesting aspects of Cretan folk heritage.

More About Rea Hotel

Rea Resort Hotel in
Chania, Crete, Greece


Stavros, Akrotiri, Chania
Tel:  +30 28210 39001-4
Fax: +30 28210 97504
E-mail: info@rearesorthotel.gr

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