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Home / Things to do / Culture and Events / Traditional Handicrafts
Traditional Handicrafts

Weaving used to be an art that was passed from mother to daughter and each Cretan household would have an "arghaliós", a weaving loom. Cretan textile art used to be compact and hard and can generally be recognized by its beautiful harmonious colours and motifs. No two rugs look alike; they vary in material, weaving technique and detailed decorative elements. Some of the most representative pieces of Cretan textile art are the "pataniés", the bed covers.

Another art that can still be seen today, especially in villages like Kritsa near Ayios Nikolaos and Kroustas near Rethymnon, is embroidery. Complicated geometric motifs or flower designs are embroidered on tablecloths and bedcovers, or made into borders for linen. It was one of a girl’s major accomplishments to know how to make beautiful embroideries.

The tradition of pottery goes back as far as Minoan culture, with motifs and designs that are strongly reminiscent of that period. Nowadays pottery is still made on the pottery wheel, from tiny cups to giant storage vessels, along with beautiful flowerpots. Pottery centres are Thrapsano near Iraklio and Margharites near Rethymnon.

Also the making of wicker work was an everyday handicraft practised since Minoan times. It covers a wide range of everyday necessities, from service in agriculture to beekeeping, stock holding and household needs, as well as the transport of agricultural produce. Made of reed, wild olive twigs, oleander and other such elastic natural materials, there was an enormous variety in shapes and sizes. Ghonies used to be a well-known centre for wicker work and the famous, uncomfortable, too narrow wicker chairs are still hand made nowadays, but this ancient handicraft is not much in demand anymore.