Easter break is finished.
Springtime is here and new ideas are springing!
They stem from memories from Easter, they flower on memories more afar…
This first photo depicts Vatheia, a most characteristic settlement of Mani (www.mani.org.gr), a blessed place and an inspiring region of Peloponnese, ending on one of the southernmost points of mainland Europe, Cape Tainaro.
Check out in this second photo, how nicely the settlement is integrated to the landscape, as if the buildings are marrying with the ridge of the mountain; no surprise thus that the settlement is called “Nifi” which means “Bride”!
And if one looks closer on these settlements, it is inevitable that the towers of Mani will stand out from this harmony of the built stones and the wild rocks…
Just like in Nubia with the towers of the various maleks (kings) of the last couple of centuries…
So, is it not a magnificent instance of coincidence that the name for such towers is Diffi, rhyming in a poetic manner with Nifi!?!
Perhaps it is not such a naïve question to ask where does the inspiration for such formal similarities stem…
Another example, more down to earth this time, will illustrate this best, we believe.
Let’s have a close up of the gate of the previous compound (site 8-B-510) on Sai Island
And this is another gate to a house on Sai; just one more among the innumerable Nubian houses that are decorated with plates above the arch of their entrances.
And this is just one of the churches of Greece, once again from Mani (Taxiarches Glezou), where the same decorative pattern is also used.
In the case of Greece the tradition is Byzantine and the influence can be from the Latin West.
Where did the “Franks” take this tradition from? The Arabs of Maghreb?
And themselves? Is it in Islam a tradition coming from Iran as it has been suggested?
Or perhaps it goes back to some Mediterranean idea about the apotropaic function of the decorated bottoms of plates?
In any case, it was our great pleasure to see the builder of the gate protecting the eastern entrance to the site of the so-called Cathedral of Medieval Sai using plates so as to decorate in a Nubian style his construction!
Once again, Nubia appears as the melting pot of traditions that can stem from either the Islamic or the Christian worlds, as they both loose, arriving in these southern margins of the “old” world, their contrasting natures of East and West.