The art of dry stone walling concerns the knowhow related to making stone constructions by stacking stones upon each other, without using any other materials except sometimes dry soil. Dry stone structures are spread across most rural areas – mainly in steep terrains – both inside and outside inhabited spaces, though they are not unknown in urban areas. The stability of the structures is ensured through the careful selection and placement of the stones, and dry-stone structures have shaped numerous, diverse landscapes, forming various modes of dwelling, farming and husbandry. Such structures testify to the methods and practices used by people from prehistory to today to organize their living and working space by optimizing local natural and human resources. They play a vital role in preventing landslides, floods and avalanches, and in combating erosion and desertification of the land, enhancing biodiversity and creating adequate microclimatic conditions for agriculture. The bearers and practitioners include the rural communities where the element is deeply rooted, as well as professionals in the construction business. Dry stone structures are always made in perfect harmony with the environment and the technique exemplifies a harmonious relationship between human beings and nature. The practice is passed down primarily through practical application adapted to the particular conditions of each place.
The Mediterranean diet involves a set of skills, knowledge, rituals, symbols and traditions concerning crops, harvesting, fishing, animal husbandry, conservation, processing, cooking, and particularly the sharing and consumption of food. Eating together is the foundation of the cultural identity and continuity of communities throughout the Mediterranean basin. It is a moment of social exchange and communication, an affirmation and renewal of family, group or community identity. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes values of hospitality, neighbourliness, intercultural dialogue and creativity, and a way of life guided by respect for diversity. It plays a vital role in cultural spaces, festivals and celebrations, bringing together people of all ages, conditions and social classes. It includes the craftsmanship and production of traditional receptacles for the transport, preservation and consumption of food, including ceramic plates and glasses. Women play an important role in transmitting knowledge of the Mediterranean diet: they safeguard its techniques, respect seasonal rhythms and festive events, and transmit the values of the element to new generations. Markets also play a key role as spaces for cultivating and transmitting the Mediterranean diet during the daily practice of exchange, agreement and mutual respect.
The lively, impromptu oral poetry known as Tsiattista is often performed to the accompaniment of violin or lute in ‘jousts’ in which one poet-singer attempts to outdo another with clever verses made up of rhyming couplets. It has long been a popular component of wedding feasts, fairs and other public celebrations, where eager crowds encourage poets to perform. The most common metrical form is the iambic fifteen-syllable verse in a rhyming couplet, although a poet may use eight-syllable, six-syllable or even nine-syllable verses. Successful ”tsiattistaes” (poet-singers) exhibit ready wit, deep familiarity with poetic and musical traditions, a rich vocabulary and an active imagination. They have often been men of modest means and limited education who transmit their works only orally; these days, the poets are mostly old men but talented female poets have recently started performing. Poets must be well-versed in the Greek Cypriot dialect, possess adequate knowledge of the popular poetry of Cyprus and the ability to retrieve existing, well-known Tsiattista and, above all, must be able to improvise a new couplet on a specific theme within very strict time constraints and be able to respond to his or her opponent.
The tradition of lace-making in the village of Lefkara in southeastern Cyprus dates back to at least the fourteenth century. Influenced by indigenous craft, the embroidery of Venetian courtiers who ruled the country beginning in 1489, and ancient Greek and Byzantine geometric patterns, Lefkara lace is made by hand in designs combining four basic elements: the hemstitch, cut work, satin stitch fillings and needlepoint edgings. This combined art and social practice is still the primary occupation of women in the village who create distinctive tablecloths, napkins and show pieces while sitting together and talking in the narrow streets or on covered patios. Unique mastery of the craft is passed to young girls through years of informal exposure and then formal instruction by their mother or grandmother in applying cotton thread to linen. When she has learned her art thoroughly, the lace-maker uses her imagination to design work that embodies both tradition and her own personality. Testament to the ability to appreciate multiple influences and incorporate them into one’s own culture, lace-making is at the centre of daily life for women of Lefkara and a proud symbol of their identity.