Folklore

The Tsakoniki Dialect

‘Grousa namou ini Tsakonika.Rotiete na nioumalio’
Our language is Tsakonika. Ask to tell you.

The “Tsakoniki” dialect is a pure primary language, the most anciently spoken Greek language, which proves the origins of our people, “Tsakones” from the ancients Dorians. The “tsakoniki”, that Leonidas the Spartan spoke, is a dialect that is being spoken for over 3000 years in this part of Arcadia. While from the third century B.C the common Greek Alexandrian language was spoken throughout Greece, in Kynouria this Dorian dialect remained alive. It has always been very difficult to record this language mostly because of the fact that it has detained 33 consonants that cannot be verbalized precisely from the ones we have in our alphabet. However many efforts are made to preserve its wealth with the recording of songs and the composing of dictionaries.

The Tsakonikos dance

As ancient as the Tsakoniki language is the Tsakonikos dance which remains unchanged through the centuries. Its steps count the time with accuracy and nobleness. Its rhythm is of 5/4, in other words of five steps, and of 5/8 when it livens up. The “Tsakonikos” dance is a circular dance which makes elaborate rings that bring to mind ancient wall paintings. Some researchers relate it to the “Geranos”, the Thiseas dance, based on the dramatic progress of the steps that seems to lead to the exit of a labyrinth. Some others believe that it re-enacts the battle of Apollo with Python, the sacred evil snake. The frontal relationship of the leading dancer with the second one reflects exactly that sleeping-draught battle of will between the God and the Snake. A third version supposes that this dance was being danced by Karyatides (girls who were from Karyes, a well-known town in Kynouria) in order to honor the Goddess Artemis. Whatever version we may choose, this peculiar dance, the “kliste” dance, in other words the closed dance, has to do with the tight-knitted bodies of the dancers.

Tsakonika textiles

A remarkable peculiarity for our area is the loom and the wefts which cannot be spotted in any other place in Greece and signify the traditional art of our region. However in Tsakonia, the textile art begun at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century definitely for practical and livelihood reasons. In the beginning, the women of Tsakonia were weaving sacks for the transportation of grain at the fields, bags to take their food at work and “kilimia” (carpets) to lay them at their houses during winter or for the dowry of their children.