Our Return to Geraki

As students from UCLA and UBC return to the Laconian village of Geraki, student Catherine Volmensky shared her thoughts:

On June 1, 2024, we leave Athens for Geraki, Laconia. The chaotic traffic and blaring car horns of central Athens act as background noise to the start of our trip. As we approach Geraki, we see the iron-rich red of the land and the many olive groves that characterize the region. The group has lunch with Chrysoula Stamatopoulou—the lead weaver in the village. She has generously cooked us a delicious lunch of moussaka, horta (boiled greens), Greek salad, and French fries. When the weather is cooler in the evening, we start mapping the village. We are joined by Chrysoula, who leads the way, and Professor Sharon Gerstel (UCLA). Chrysoula points out to us the houses of the historic and contemporary weavers. In our group, Luís Rodriguez-Perez (UCLA) takes pictures of the houses for the project, and Nicolyna Enriquez (UCLA) and Sofia Pitouli (UCLA) record information using Gaia GPS. We arrive eventually at the plateia and sit down with some of the weavers for light refreshment.

We have brought a copy of the catalogue of kilims, Weaving Dreams: Kilims from Geraki, Laconia, that was started last year during our project in Geraki. The weavers pour over the catalogue, exclaiming over the text and the beauty of the reproduced images in the catalogue. A source from the middle of the 19th century refers to two weaving workshops in the village. In an account that comes from a local court case, we have information about the location of one of these workshops. We continue on with Chrysoula, mapping the houses of the many weavers of Geraki. As we walk, we can hear the birds singing in the trees surrounding the plateia, and we watch the evening sun gild the flowers and architecture of the village. At the end of our evening, we visit with the family of acclaimed weaver Eleni Manousi (see a film featuring Eleni: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVHqx6WNTZo ). They bring out two kilims, which the team had yet to see. These kilims will also be added to the catalogue.