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by Archaeology Newsroom

“Features of decorative folk art in the traditional architecture of Cyprus

This article broadly outlines the subject of folk art features, which decorate special parts of houses of traditional architecture in Cyprus, dating from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century.

More specifically it refers to the stone carved decoration on doorways — sometimes inspired from mediaeval, Frankish prototypes — on capitals of stone columns supporting arched verandas and on arches in the interior of houses, also to symbolic representations on protective stone carved lintels placed above doorways of houses. Fine specimens of woodcarving are found among the decorated frames of doors and windows, doorlocks, woodcarved ceilings in rich houses of urban architecture. Wall paintings in houses of folk architecture are exceptional in Cyprus and survive only in fragments. The gypsum shelves with ornaments in relief formed with a wooden mould constitute another characteristic morphological feature in the interior of traditional houses in many villages all over Cyprus. Motives such as rosettes, lozenges, arched buildings, stylized birds, lions and cypresses are similar to those found on wooden chests and other pieces of folk art furniture.Other motifs such as angels, scroll vines with grapes, dragons etc. seem to have been inspired from the much more sophisticated ecclesiastic art. Rosettes, stars, eagles, cypresses and geometric patterns form the repertoire of ornaments in the cut plaques covering sky-lights on the upper part of the walls of traditional houses. In all the above mentioned examples, folk art enhances and enriches traditional architecture by transforming features of practical significance into works of art.