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A Cretan Odyssey – A Rich and Colourful Tapestry of Influences!
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Cretan Folk Art is a fine example of how such creative arts are deeply embedded in the culture, heart and soul of Greece and her islands. None epitomises this culture of creativity more than the Greek Island of Crete.

A rich tapestry of influences drawing threads from the Minoan civilization, the Roman and Byzantine Empires, the Venetians and the Turks have been interwoven into the existing wealth of creative expertise passed down from ancient times.

Cretan embroidery is noted for its exquisite variety of colour, symbolism and varying techniques. The most notable classic techniques of Cretan embroidery are grafta, which involves patterns drawn freehand onto the fabric, and Metrita-xombliasta, made by counting the threads in the fabric. Both these techniques and others are employed to create exquisite embroidered pieces.

Many embroidered pieces such as church decorations, pillows, valances and hems, are drawn from the Byzantine tradition. They feature decorative motifs with complex floral designs, mermaids, double-headed eagles, snakes, winged snakes, animals, birds of Crete, and female figures at prayer. Many 20th century framed embroideries or decorations feature proverbs or figures drawn from history or the mythology of ancient Crete.

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This particular example is to be found at the Historical Museum of Crete which is absolutelty fascinating and well worth a visit!

The Historical Museum of Crete was founded by the Society of Cretan Historical Studies in 1953 and is housed in a neoclassical building of significant architectural merit (the A. & M. Kalokairinos House, 1903) in the city of Heraklion on Crete, an island of Greece. The museum was expanded following the addition of a new wing and floor.

The museum’s permanent collections highlight the art and history of Crete from the 4th century AD up to and including the Second World War. The collections are ordered chronologically and by subject matter, and are combined with visual material and multimedia. They include ceramics, sculptures, coins, jewellery, wall paintings, portable icons, ritual objects, manuscripts, heirlooms, weavings, the reconstructed interior of a Cretan rural home and much more.

The museum’s finest exhibits are two paintings by Doménikos Theotokópoulos (more commonly known as El Greco), born in Crete: The Baptism of Christ (1567) and View of Mount Sinai (1570–2), the only works by the artist now on Crete. Another outstanding exhibit is a 4×4 metre mock-up of mid-17th century Chandax (Heraklion), at the time when the city reached its peak under Venetian rule. Of particular interest is the Nikos Kazantzakis Collection, featuring the study and library from the author’s home in Antibes, France, personal effects, manuscripts of his works, first editions of books in various languages, etc.

The temporary exhibition rooms at the Historical Museum of Crete host exhibitions on a wide range of themes (e.g., in summer 2012, the life and work of poet Odysseas Elytis).

The museum library, featuring rare editions and much archive and photographic material, caters for the needs of both researchers and the general public.

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Crete (Greek: ?????, Kríti [‘kriti]; Ancient Greek: ?????, Kr?t?) is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece.The capital and the largest city of Crete is Heraklion. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits (such as its own poetry, and music). Crete was once the center of the Minoan civilization (c. 2700–1420 BC), which is currently regarded as the earliest recorded civilization in Europe.

The island is first referred to as Kaptara in texts from the Syrian city of Mari dating from the 18th century BC, repeated later in Neo-Assyrian records and the Bible (Caphtor). It was also known in ancient Egyptian as Keftiu, strongly suggesting some form similar to both was the Minoan name for the island.

The current name of Crete is thought to be first attested in Mycenaean Greek texts written in Linear B, through the words ke-re-te (*Kr?tes; later Greek: ??????, plural of ????),[4] and ke-re-si-jo (*Kr?sijos; later Greek: ???????), "Cretan". In Ancient Greek, the name Crete (?????) first appears in Homer’s Odyssey.[8] Its etymology is unknown. One speculative proposal derives it from a hypothetical Luvian word *kursatta (cf. kursawar "island", kursattar "cutting, sliver").[9] In Latin, it became Creta.

The original Arabic name of Crete was Iqr??iš (Arabic: ??????? < (???) ??????), but after the Emirate of Crete’s establishment of its new capital at ??? ??????Rab? al-?andaq (modern Iraklion), both the city and the island became known as ?????? (Khandhax) or ???????? (Khandhakas), which gave Latin and Venetian Candia, from which French Candie and English Candy or Candia. Under Ottoman rule, in Ottoman Turkish, Crete was called Girit (????).

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