Ethnographic museums conserve, display and contextualize items relevant to the field of ethnography, the systematic study of people and cultures. Is anyone else fascinated by this? Finding out the links to the past, finding out the secrets, delving into traditions and how a culture came to be.
Well isn’t this a cute little place. I have wanted to here for a long time and had a couple of hours to kill so thought why not. It’s a bit hidden away in the old town area the town hall side. It’s near Muse and does come up if you google map it. There is no parking there and please don’t park on the street as the roads are teeny tiny. There is a bit of charged parking (not sure if it’s checked) nearby but there are maybe 10/12 spaces that get filled quickly. Your best bet is to park in the giant car park opposite second cup coffee shop and walk about 10 mins.
The museum itself is an addition to a private house and is obviously a labour of love. It is €3 to enter and where you pay, it is decked out in pictures and belongings the family have collected over the years. I did try to get some information out the of the lady but she didn’t seem to want to talk 🤷🏽♀️ I plan on going back to gain more information as it is such a fascinating place!
The actual museum is located underneath the house. There is a mix of rooms and a courtyard to explore with lots of plants and statues. There is even a sarcophagus down there! It is very traditional, with costumes farm equipment and even an old bed. Each room is dedicated to a different area of life such as the bedroom (no funny business), farming, the kitchen, etc…outside on the wall there are excerpts from an old book describing an activity or the room and if I’m honest some bits are hilarious. These were my favourite part! My next favourite was all the pots and earthware. Ranging from teeny tiny to massive olive oil containers I loved looking at all the old pottery and trying to work out how it was used!
So a little about a traditional Cypriot house…They were a little higglety pigglety, dotted around the village. They weren’t built to plan, they were built to what was needed at the time. Sometimes rooms were added (there is a fabulous house in Polis that shows this). Stone was a common material and the roofs were flat with concrete being introduced in the 1930s. The patios and gardens were used to showcase the beauty of the properties with many using the roof of the property below as their garden (Skoulli and Old Theletra are great examples of this).
This is pretty hard to miss…a big sarcophagus in your back garden! Translating as stone coffin, these are associated with the ancient civilisations in Greece and you can find them all over Cyprus. They would be filled with possessions, gold and of course the body then triple sealed. These didn’t have bodies in however (phew). There would also be a shrine nearby. Mary, mother of Jesus, is common as she is the patron saint of all human beings. She was placed at the entrance to look after the deceased in their tomb and somewhere where relatives could pray and remember their loved ones.
It’s the centre of each home, the kitchen. Families gather around the table to tell tales about their day, sharing a good meal. There is a traditional wooden table and chairs in the middle of the room or the corner (depending on the size) and the shelves and floor would be adorned with stoneware filled with olives, olive oil, wine and water…you name it it was in the kitchen/pantry.
There wasn’t enough room in the house for an oven and due to many houses being one room, they didn’t want houses filling with smoke! Many ovens were outside, made of stone and used to slow cook. They were heated up very like a bbq today and then the food popped in. They bricked up the entrance and smoke could escape through an outlet. Many dishes, especially kleftiko are still cooked this way and boy does the meat fall off the bone!
Time for bed… Isn’t it just STUNNING! Pretty much everything would be handmade, from the bed to the bedding to the lace adorning the four posters. Sometimes the bedding/lace would be made or passed down in the family as a wedding present. The bed would generally be the other side of the kitchen in a traditional house. The lace is there to save from prying eyes and also to keep out mosquitos! I love the details on the lace. I have always wanted a four poster bed adorned with lace…I mean Christmas is coming up and my blogs are good!
Small segway…a couple would never share a house let alone a bed until they were married. Above is a traditional wedding arch. Adorned with flowers and lace, it was an important part of the ceremony. It represented (and still does) the future home of the newly married couple and walking through is getting rid of the past ready for something new – the bliss of being with the one you love.
Agriculture was a very popular job back in the day. The men toiled in the fields and the women did stay at home. Some did use the loom to make rugs or they weaved baskets to sell but mainly they cooked and gossiped haha! Below you can see some of the traditional equipment used. I think the blue is just for the atheistic but it is pretty. You can see other machinery used for grinding and filtering…sorting the wheat from the chaff as it were!
My favourite place…the garden. The garden was used as a sanctuary. To hide the home from prying eyes but also to show off. Cypriot gardens are full of greenery and clay pots. Succulents grow very well here due to the lack of rain and you also want to look at jasmine (jasmine bush in pic 2 at the end) and bougainvillea. Pop the odd distressed boat in and bam…Cypriot garden is ready to go.
Other things worth mentioning in museum…
Skulls…I think these were found in the sarcophagus. I find the macabre strangely fascinating (yes I’m weird) so this was an interesting find. I definitely didn’t expect to find a display case full of skulls in this little place. There was no information with them and they were tucked away with other bits of skeleton and pottery found. Who were these people?
Injecting a bit of modern times into old, there was a quilt that had been created for Pafos City of Culture back in 2017. Each different square has been sewn by different people and represented what Cyprus means to them. From fertility goddesses to mouflon to fish, everything is represented. I’m glad its on display but I would like it on my lace adorned four poster bed ha!
This isn’t a big museum…I did it in about 20 mins and I wasn’t rushing but it is something fun to do of you are at a loose end or want to see something a bit more personal. I would highly recommend as something different that not everyone takes time to see!
Entry is €3 per person. link to business page
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