Thursday, 17 April 2008

Cretan poetry - mantinades

This souvenir shop owner near the Old Harbour really wants to be doing something else in his life: writing Cretan poems, what are known locally as "mantinades". These poems are created for a specific situation, for example: to show love for someone, at the baptism of a child, to comment on a current issue, etc. They are used to express joy, sorrow, anger, humour, just about any feeling. They are written in accordance with a set of rules concerning the number of syllables and the rhyming patterns used, but anyone and everyone makes them up as the occasion arises.

The white sign below the display window says:
"Here therein, are given, entirely free of charge, leaflets with our mantinades, and you don't have to buy absolutely anything."

The same is written at the top of the door, at the bottom of the window display, and on the left and right hand sides of the shop. Here are some mantinades, written on souvenir cups, shot glasses, paper towel holders, you name it, all made in white ceramic plate or glass, with a picture of Crete plastered on one side:

"Many times, your friend
Becomes your brother, too;
Because in times of hardship
He's always there for you."

Here's another one:

"That you're now a grandpapa,
Shouldn't worry you a bit;
But sleeping with a grandmama,
Now that's the shame of it..."


  1. A shaving company used to do their advertising on little signs stuck along highways or roads. Each sign had one line of the poem on it very much like your mantinades do. They were for "Burma Shave."

  2. O I wish I had found this shop when I was there. I would have likely come away with a mug or two.

  3. What an interesting blog! Crete is somewhere I'd love to go, but am frankly too poor to get there. So your blog shows me things I'd never get to see otherwise. Thank you.