Benaki ethnologist Lila de Chaves shares wisdom at Stanford

Benaki Museum ethnologist Lila Chronopoulos-de Chaves gave a lecture and slide show on «Greek Jewelry and Greek Costume through Time and Space» at Stanford University in San Francisco. Over 100 people filled the university’s Oak West Room for the lecture held by the Greek Consulate, the faculty of the departments of Modern Greek Language, Literature and Culture and the Chair of Classical Studies. «Greek costume and jewelry as forms of art are deeply rooted in Greek history, culture and tradition,» said de Chaves. «Handcrafted pieces of jewelry show off exquisite work by master technicians who borrow techniques and motifs from nature, daily scenes and Classical Greek and Byzantine designs. Regional costumes with embroidered layered sections adorn bodies and define origin while at the same time symbolizing wealth and status. Through the centuries, they have become part of their wearers’ daily lives, celebrations and memories, and they are heirlooms treasured by individuals and passed onto the generations to come. These treasures have been part of folk singing, literature and poetry and have been exhibited with pride.» De Chaves repeated her lecture later that week at the de Young Museum in the same city after a dinner at the Piazzoni Murals Room at the museum. De Chaves, who is also president of the Heritage and Museums Association and general secretary of the World Federation of Friends of Museums (WFFM), later talked to Helbi about her travels, saying that communicating with overseas Greeks is a «matter of the mind and, above all, the heart.» «You see that somewhere time has stopped, while you see the eternal desire of overseas Greeks to relive the past although they live in the present overseas.» That was surely the reason for the warm welcome they gave de Chaves, and their invitation for her to return.