Meeting Mr. Theophanis Pilavakis in Phoini

Trip Start Mar 03, 2010
Trip End Feb 06, 2011

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Where I stayed
'Ambelikos Traditional Agro Hotel'

Flag of Cyprus  , Nicosia,
Friday, February 4, 2011

Meeting Mr. Theophanis Pilavakis......

Leaving behind beautiful Platres, we are heading towards a village that has become a point of attraction for its tradition in pottery. I remember a friend of mine (Theo) telling me about Phoini, a year ago but I had never had the chance to visit until today that I come with Aki. My friend wants me to meet Mr. Theophanis Pilavakis, the owner of the Private Museum of Folkloric Art and a person well known in Cyprus.

Phoini not only prouds for its unique and extensive tradition in pottery with the history going back into the centuries, but also for the making of wooden chairs known for their sturdiness and comfort. You see, the morphology of the ground here is such, with limited tillable land that inhabitants occupy themselves on this kind of art for years. And of course the 'turkish delight' or ‘loukoumia’ made in Phoini are also popular and very tasty.

We are made welcome to Mr. Pilavakis home. Upon entering the gate I am astound with the many clay vessels in his garden  -huge clay pots, which I believe are for selling. The whole house is a museum itself.  He is showing us the many trophies he has received, the articles of honour dedicated to him, and on the walls there are frames with photos showing Mr. Pilavakis posing with presidents and Heads of State.
Mr. Theophanis Pilavakis was born in this village in 1924 out of a poor family. There were five members in his family and all kept themselves busy in the pottery business. He used to help his parents a lot with the pottery, until the year 1953 when he leaves Cyprus and goes to England for a better life. In England he succeeds as a business man having a factory making women’s clothes but his mind he says was always on Phoini, his little village. So, he repatriates in Cyprus in the year 1980 and he creates his private museum.

I ask for permission to take some pictures from his rich collection in the house, and afterwards he shows us upstairs where again the house is like a museum.  There are different antiques which for years Mr. Theophanis has been collecting, a number of iron beds, and pieces of old antique furniture. In his garden he shows us the 2nd oldest plane-tree in Cyprus, and then he takes us to his private museum, about 100 metres from his residence. There are many traditional agricultural tools, traditional kitchen utensils, pottery, chairs, and many photos and posters on the walls. On some of the pots there are initials of the ceramists and the date of their creation that sometimes goes back to the 18th century engraved on these large pots that can still be used! On one of the walls, -and this is the most interesting of all, we can see family pictures of those days when the family members were making pots out of clay.

We are ready to leave but he insists that we should follow him to the café of the village –kafenio, for a cup of coffee. We cannot refuse and let him down because it would surely create some bad feelings, ….. so here we are, and me the only woman here in the café.  I cast a glance to see how the men would react seeing me entering but most of them are busy playing a game of backgammon so that is not a problem. Of course it is never actually a problem, but always the ‘kafenio’ is a men’s spot.

We order ‘soumada’ instead of coffee, and Mr. Pilavakis offers us a box of ‘loukoumia’ saying that this is how the people in Phoini wave goodbye to their visitors. So, we thank him, and we each have one and take the gift along thus keeping the sweetness of this visit.  

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venoth on

Your wirting here is great, as I was reading, it felt like watching a short documentary. Cheers to you Popi.

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