A rare collection- a remarkable writer
Human race stands out about its curiosity. It seeks knowledge not only to satisfy practical needs, but also as an end in itself. We could mention more than enough turning points in this quest: language, the invention of writing, engraving and typography, as well as the development of shipbuilding and ship navigation. However, we’ll dwell on the mid- second millennium A.D. when a combination of a series of factors has triggered the Age of Discovery. European travelers go to all directions, both known and unknown, and come back with experiences that can be published and spread. Human knowledge grows in width, in depth and accessibility.
Previous images and texts are so rare, that today they are found only in museums and universities. The mass production of the Age of Discovery allows private collectors to gain relics of that era. Katerina Sarahi started as a collector of engravings. However, the enrichment of a collection requires the study of its subject too. Under the human rule, the aim was brought up and the search for objects was overcome by the search for the knowledge of them and their history. Her thorough study impelled her to create her book. That’s what she captures in it, not just her collection.
Characteristically, the first printed map of the island, from the Isolario of Bartolomeo dalli Donetti, in 1485, was not in the possession of Mrs Sarafi at the time of the publication of the book. However, one cannot study the cartography of the island without mentioning that one as well as the previous one, which was a manuscript by Christoforo Buondelmonti. That’s why the unity of the maps and the views begins from them. Then the history of both the landscape of Tinos and the technology of mapping unfolds. We’ll see that in the beginning only the intriguing, for the navigation places, were of great interest like ports, islets, characteristic signs and often the illustration of the majestic capital in Xombourgo.
More accurate maps and views appear in the end of the 17th century in the works of Vincenzo Maria Coronelli and Joseph Pitton de Tournefort. In the latter we come across one of the first illustrations of the Chora, as we know it today, Aghios Nikolaos back then, seaport of the capital. The ones of Comte Choiseul-Gouffier in 1782 are even more impressive. There are also engravings and watercolors from the end of the 19th century. The section closes with the first Greek map of the island in 1892.
Along with the first views of the island in the 18th century, costumes of the locals are presented, mainly of the local women. Here you can see the designs of J. B. van Mour that we meet in many editions, as well as the depictions of Gouffier, who is the first to have illustrated scenes of every day life and presents the habits of the Tinians.
In the last section texts, that were not accompanied by maps or images, are listed, from the end of the 16th century to the 20th. Here we will find countless information mainly of economic and political interest. Some travelers, especially those who were not directed to a particular authority, adopted a more vivid speech in order to show every day, human moments, facilitating our own journey into the past of Tinos.
THE LOVE FOR THE ISLAND AND
THE JOURNEY OF CREATION
What is your relation with the island of the Tinos?
I don’t come from the island of Tinos neither me nor another member of my family. We randomly went there as a family on holiday. The undiscovered -until then- Tinos was a revelation to us. So we decided to get a home in the island and since then it is the place where we spend our holiday. We walked all over the island and we discovered it little by little. I can say that after 25 years Tinos still holds surprises for us.
How did you come up with the idea of your book?
I used to buy some engravings of Tinos, originally intended to be part of the decoration of my new home. At the same time, I began to read about the history, the culture of the island and its course through centuries and I was more and more fascinated. So a collection was started and constantly enriched. 17 years later I discovered that I had collected enough material both in terms of images (maps, clothing, opinions), as well as texts (historical and documents). And I felt like sharing all that knowledge. That was the moment when I came up with the idea of the book. I wanted to accumulate, for the first time, in a single volume all the existing material about Tinos, which used to be defused in many old books. For 2,5 years I did the research in libraries, like Gennadios and National Library, as well as the British Library of London, in book shops selling old books and newspapers archives. I also seeked for similar publications by collectors about other places like Chios, Paros and Crete and my idea slowly came to fruition.
I finally created a version which I want to believe that achieved its goal. It includes more engravings and texts on Tinos from the 15th to the 19th century, even those I had not in my possession. As I wanted the material of the book to be as complete as possible and to give the entire picture of how the travelers saw Tinos those years ago I borrowed from the libraries the engravings and the texts that I lacked and I included them in the publication.
Did you meet with difficulties during the procedure (material compilation,publication, etc.)?
I would say that there were difficulties as I had no previous experience on that issue. But it wasn’t just an experiment for me. It was a bet. I believe that when there is love and passion you can overcome any obstacle or difficulty. Besides, in my effort I had valuable consultants. Mrs. Leonora Navari, who dealt with the bibliographic diligence, and two great collectors Mr. Efstathios Finopoulos and Mr. Christos Zaharakis. They helped me to identify engravings whose origins I didn’t know about and offered bibliography to enrich the material of my book with more texts. All this effort was for me a wonderful trip.
And the research continues. The journey does not stop with the publication of the book. I am still searching for old editions, Tinos engravings that miss from my collection and I study the history of the island.
Tinos is a sublime beauty. What would you change in the island?
Nothing is needed in Tinos to change. We must protect this beauty and preserve it. We also have to limit the reconstruction that has come to such a point that neighboring villages tend to be unified. To take action for the restoration of the dovecotes- buildings symbols of Tinos, of amazing beauty and architecture for the island, many of which are fall down. Another thing we have to care about is to save the pezoules (benches), toils of centuries, which are also destroyed by the weather and the indifference. Finally we have to promote more the artists of the island, both in Greece and abroad. Tinos is a nursery of great artists, sculptors, painters, engravers etc. Tinos can and must export culture.