Riviera Beach Bungalows, Studios & Superior Hotel Rooms, Kyrenia, North Cyprus

***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***

THROUGH CYPRUS
WITH THE CAMERA,
IN THE AUTUMN OF 1878.
By
JOHN THOMSON F.R.G.S.

***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***

[Kyrenia] [Famagusta] [Nicosia] [Lefke] [Limassol] [Paphos] [Larnaca]

<<< Previous Homepage Next >>>

LEVKA / LEFKE

WOMEN AT A WELL, LEVKA

Draw-wells abound all over the great plain of Levka (Lefka / Lefke). They are to be met with, not only within the courtyards of the houses in the towns and villages, but even in out-of-the-way localities, where they serve to supply the cattle, and where the shepherd may be seen at morning and evening, watering his flocks. Many of these wells must be very old, for their ropes have worn deep ruts in the blocks of hard coping-stone by which they are invariably surrounded. They are also very deep; and in all of them, even at the end of the dry season, an abundant supply of water is to be found. Domestic draw-wells generally carry a wheel or windlass erected over them, having a double row of spokes so contrived as to be worked like a capstan wheel in raising the heavily-charged bucket from below. It is astonishing to see how deftly the drawing of water is managed even by children, although the women among Cypriote peasantry form the recognized drawers of water. Still, the heat and the labour are made light of, and these wells form, as they did in Jacob’s time, pleasant meeting-places where young men and maidens gather together, and where leisure is found for discussing topics more engrossing than the vulgar gossip of every-day life. It somehow happens that young and pretty women are to be found filling their jars just at the moment when the men may be expected from the fields, or when a troop from some distant village has halted for refreshment. Then it is that the rope gets entangled with the spokes of the windlass, or the bucket flirts with the water and refuses to be filled, and so the sun declines beneath the horizon before the jars are fairly poised and borne away.

***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***

COMING FROM THE WELL, LEVKA

CYPRUS was at one time famed for its aqueducts, but many of these ancient structures have fallen to ruin, and are now replaced by draw-wells. Some of these draw-wells are used for irrigation, and with their arrangement of rude cog-wheels and chain of buckets kept going by a mule, or ass, remind one of the Spanish Noria. With this difference, however, that the Cypriote mule seems to toil on through the long day untended, whereas the Noria is often supplied with a simple mechanical contrivance that brings down a stick on the back of the jaded beast whenever it stops to rest. The surroundings of the water-carrier in this picture are peculiarly characteristic. Over a rude frame, supported on posts of pine-wood, an old vine spreads its leaves; on the right is an outhouse made of sun-dried bricks; while in the corner is a woman preparing a partition of wattle-work for the new building which we see already half-completed in the distance. The old house at Levka (Lefka / Lefke), known to foreigners as a pleasant resting-place, is being supplemented by one of more imposing proportions, and better fitted to accommodate the merchants or travellers who pass that way. This rustic hotel is indeed all that was wanted to render Levka one of the most delightful spots in the islands of the Mediterranean. The settlement itself, embowered in foliage, rises above a plateau on one of the spurs of the southern range, and, within its shady orchards, fruits in great abundance and variety are to be found. Oranges are there, melons also, and figs, grapes, pomegranates, and limes; nor does the store of walnuts and peaches, of plums, pears, and apples fail. At the time of our visit, breakfast was spread for us in a garden, beneath trees which literally shed down ripe peaches to our table. The pose of the woman in the foreground was taken naturally, and yet she looks like the living model of some Greek statue which might have been found in the adjoining ruins of ancient Soli.

***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***

THE PINES OF OLYMPUS (TROODOS)

CYPRUS was anciently famed for the luxuriance of its forests like Olympus (Troodos / Trodos). Not the higher mountain ranges only, but the lower spurs of the chains, and even a great portion of the vast plain below, were once wrapped in a green mantle of noble trees. This timber has now, alas! almost wholly disappeared, at any rate from the level ground and from the more accessible districts among the hills; but pine-forests may, nevertheless, still be found in the remoter regions to the eastward, as well as on the higher elevations north and south of Mesorea. Many of the trees there attain colossal proportions, and the forests might yet afford an abundant supply of timber for shipbuilding purposes, were it not of far greater importance to leave them undisturbed that so they may increase the rainfall over the island, and absorb the noxious, fever-breathing gases with which the atmosphere is occasionally charged. But the ruthless hand of the rough mountaineers, who earn their livelihood by the sale of timber, are fast thinning even the forests which still remain, and which are everywhere strewn with logs ready to be dragged down with infinite labour to the nearest market. Only one who has witnessed the transport of a massive trunk down the mountain-sides and through the ravines can form a just notion of the difficulties that have to be surmounted by these troops of half-naked hill-men and their teams of oxen. It is, at any rate, consolatory to reflect that, but for the unremunerative character of the toil thus required, the island would long ago have been totally denuded of its trees. Many of the finest pines are annually destroyed merely to supply resin and pitch. Even the women take a part in this pursuit, and they may be seen ascending the highest trees, lopping off the branches as they mount upwards, until at last only the bare trunk is left, ready to be fired near the root, and overthrown. If the forests are ever to be restored, the most stringent laws for their preservation must be made, and, when made, put in force. Fortunately, also, the supply of saplings is abundant, and these might be utilized in replanting the waste land to be found in great quantities on the hills and plains of the island.

***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***

 

MOUNTAINEERS

PRODROMOS, the village nearest the summit of Olympus, stands at an altitude of about five thousand feet above the sea. It is built on the side of a glen, and may be likened in general appearance to Modula or Kalopanagiotissa. The villagers are a robust race, as may be gathered from the two following photographs, the first of which represents one of the chief people of the place, a man who deserves to be rendered famous for the kind manner in which he welcomes the stranger that may enter within his gates. As soon as he learned that I had determined to make the ascent of Mount Olympus (Troodos / Trodos) he volunteered to act as a guide; nor did he show the slightest token of wavering, although a storm was evidently brewing when we started.

On the summit of Olympus, the storm burst upon us with great violence. Thunder shook the mountain, lightning flashed on every side, and torrents of rain and hail poured down; indeed, the turmoil sounded like a terrible protest against the sacrilege done in photographing for the first time the debris that is supposed to mark the site of an ancient shrine. Our honest guide bore the brunt of the storm with praiseworthy composure, and at last we descended, drenched but not disheartened, to seek shelter in his home.

Another Highlander figures in the second plate—a tall, bony man of a most obligingly good-natured disposition. He, however, looked a bold, determined character, whose massive hands and muscular frame would stand him in good stead in carrying out any resolve for good or evil.

***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***

THE SUMMIT OF OLYMPUS (TROODOS)

After a delay of some two or three hours, the storm all the while raging with unabated fury, a gleam of sunlight shot through the darkness, and a short lull ensued, which enabled us to secure the accompanying picture. Our host is there, depicted pointing out what seemed to be the foundation of an old wall now overgrown with shrubs. All around us were cairns of stone, each cairn the subject of some local tradition, about which at any rate, as the stones did not always correspond in substance with the rock formation of the mountain, we were content to believe this much, that they must have been brought from a distance to be piled up where they lie.

Mount Olympus, whose summit rises about 6400 feet above sea level, and is the highest point in the southern range, forms a kind of central cone, whence a multitude of mountain buttresses, gigantic in their proportions, radiate outwards on every side. From its top, on a dear day, a view of the whole island is obtained, and even part of the coast of Asia Minor may, under favourable circumstances, be discernible. When we stood there, however, enveloped in gloom, drenched with rain, and benumbed with cold, the scene around us was weird and foreboding rather than extensive. Far down beneath our feet, clouds in grey masses hung over the glens, pierced here and there by the dark pine tops, and lit up at intervals into dazzling brilliancy by the lightning as it flashed. Nearer at hand, streaks of mist were trailing upward to the summit; while all around us the air resounded with the sharp clatter of thunder overhead, with the echoes of its distant reverberations, and with the tumult of waters rushing in a thousand torrents to the valleys below.

At last the veil was for a moment raised, and a glimpse was revealed of green plains, of a white fringe of pearly foam where the waves kissed the shores, and of blue sea bathed in sunshine beyond. It was but for a moment, however; the vapoury clouds closed round us ere we could fairly start on our descent. Pines loomed once more in giant proportions through the mist, and the lowering sky had almost invaded the village before we reached Prodromos.

[Kyrenia] [Famagusta] [Nicosia] [Lefke] [Limassol] [Paphos] [Larnaca]

<<< Previous Homepage Next >>>