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by Archaeology Newsroom

The cups of Makrygiannis

The tassia (= cups) of Makrygiannis. eponymous objects of multiple value and importance, since they were personal utensils belonging to this famous fighter for modern Greece, are for the first time published with the sole ambition of becoming widely known as examples of a special historic, folk and artistic significance.

The correlation between Makrygianni’s texts and his cups produces interesting results, because it reveals the close connection of objects and written testimonies.

The tassi (τάσσι, το: cup; Turkish, tas) or Kouna (Kouna, n. : Latin, cupa) or κίκαρη (on Mount Agrapha) a shallow, hemispherical, usually handless vessel with vertical or slanting sides, with or without an omphalus on its inner bottom and with a separate or embodied base, is one of the basic liquid -containing utensils ( of water, wine,or milk).

The tassi, a functional vessel closely related with the everyday life of Greeks today, becomes a distinct object in the various aspects of folk life. In folk poetry and song frequent reference is made not only to the material it is made of (silver, glass, crystal, china), its provenance, use (wine-cup, water-cup) and colour; there is also an eloquent admiration for its overall appearance, richly and elaborately decorated as it usually was. The cup (tassi) -in the case of the Independence fighters of 1821- is part of a takimi ( set) along with the rest of the armor. It is very significant that similar or related decorative themes embellish both armor and cups, a connection which indicates that it was probable that such a commission was executed by the same artist in one and the same silversmith’s workshop. Therefore, the relations in style and repertoire that associate such groups of objects are only natural.

Frequent is the reference to cups in kleftiko folk songs, which present a rich source of information on the armor of fighters of 1821. In this category of songs the cup is considered as a valuable vessel used, mainly, for drinking wine or water from.

The cups of Makrygiannis are included in the group of objects used by the fighters of 1821. They belong to the collections of the National and Historic Museum (nos. 3730 and 3732 respectively) and are “monuments” not only to Neohellenic traditional Art, but also to the History of Modern Hellenism. The general’s cups were donated, along with other souvenirs of the fighter, to the National and Historic Museum by his son, general Kitsos Makrygiannis (1848-1948). Thus, the cups of Makrygiannis, like many other exhibits of this Museum, are utensils of multiple value and interest. Being eponymous they form, along with the rest of the objects belonging to the general, a group of special significance from the aesthetic-artistic as well as from the folk and historical point of view.