CULTURE

Photo album on the history of the Zagori

A large complex of villages that stretches north of Ioannina along the Pindus range in the vicinity of the Aoos and Voidomatis rivers is nowadays known as one of the most attractive winter resorts in this country. The famous Zagorohoria (44 villages in all) are a haven of natural beauty but also an example of well-restored settlements and organized agrotourism. As in other remote, rural areas of Greece, the population here has decreased enormously over the past century largely as the result of migration, war and the harshness of an isolated rural existence. But the people of Zagori always seemed to share a sense of community; those who left their homeland in search for a better future helped finance communal projects and those who stayed behind preserved their traditions. «Zagori: the Life of a Community,» published jointly by the Rizareios and Stavros S. Niarchos foundations, is a large photographic album that captures the sense of community that people in this part of Greece maintained through time. Based on an idea of Angelos Kitsos, president of the Rizareios Foundation, and edited by John Demos, the book includes rare images – some published for the first time – of Zagori from the 1860s to the early 1950s. A prologue by Christina Pitouli-Kitsou on the history of Zagori provides a useful context. Structured across separate themes, the photos cover a range of images: the villages and the environment, family portraits, scenes of daily life, weddings and festivities, public figures on formal occasions, or the Sarakatsani, a community of nomadic shepherds that had a strong presence in Zagori during the interwar period. Photographs of schools and student groups illustrate the important role of education and the relatively high literacy of the region, a phenomenon largely due to the influence that the expatriate Zagorian community (successive waves of emigration swept across the Zagorohoria from the 18th century on) had back home. A prosperous community, it financed important projects and helped preserve Zagorian culture to the present day.