Saturday, 11 October 2008

Rush grass chair seats

Traditional wooden woven chairs are not as popular as they once were, but these chairs are visibly old and much loved, as they are awaiting a new woven seat. The craftsman who weaves them (I decided to give him the right to his privacy) is not new to the town; I remember the first time I saw him crafting chair seats, in the village of Therisso, 15 years ago. He is probably the only person in Hania who is in this line of work, as I have never encountered anyone else weaving chairs, and I have seen him many times since my first encounter.

He works silently, hardly ever bothering to look up, completely oblivious to the passersby who stop to watch him; who wouldn't stop and watch him - deftly weaving grasses in and out of a frame, as though it is second nature to him, even though he knows the onlookers are there, staring at him as if he is a performing monkey.

This photo was taken outside an apartment building, across the road from the municipal park, with four traditional Cretan wooden chairs (not all are visible) waiting for his expert hands to be rewoven. The owner must love traditional customs; few people in town would place such furniture in their homes now, let alone restore them to their former glory.


  1. I'd love to see that. Thanks for the picture in words.
    Chair looks good to me.
    Can you catch a photo of the finished chairs?

  2. How fascianting! I am not sure, but I think I have seen one such chair when I was a child in Sydney! As I remember though, the grass was quite thick, almost like twine! Great post!

  3. love the carvings at the tip of the handrests..

  4. After his day - what then ? Another lost art.

  5. Hi there --

    Have to say that I love your blog's title... it sounds so oxymoronic, one just HAS to come over to take a peek! :b

  6. Hi MKiwi! Sorry for the delay in coming here, but these last weeks have been hectic; no, I’m not talking about the financial/economic crisis… ;))
    Amazing chair and story! Loved to see the sky and the stalos beach! Wow, and the post on Paleohora is awesome; another destination to include on my next trip to Crete!!
    Meanwhile Blogtrotter is now on its 200th post: also on «The Libyan Sea»! Hope you enjoy! Have a great weekend!

  7. Hello Med.Kiwi

    There used to be a guy in my city back home who did this work but he was mobile.

    He had a set of long pieces of this grass on his shoulder and some tools of the trade and he would go around announcing his services.

    He was old as well and was working away his art like robots build cars in 15 eye blinks (real time)...It's been more than 7 years i have not seen him going around though...People might say he is dead but i like to think he won the lottery :-D :-D :-D

    I am not sure if this chair should get a hatch seating. It looks like those found in churches where older people are sitting, or the people who do the chanting. These usually have a solid seat made of wood. I could be wrong though.

  8. fascinating. that's a lovely chair, and a lovely practice. holding on to parts of ourselves from the past.

  9. Maria,
    I'm so glad that you know the whereabouts of this fellow. We just may need his talents come summer. Is he in cahoots with the gentleman that Mama is hoping to purchase additional Cretan chairs from next year? The chair appears to be of the same traditional design as ours.

  10. hey, no doubt he is - everyone who needs this kind of work done seems to hire him, so he must be known to a lot of people. next summer, we're bound to find out

  11. Very interesting! I would like to see where those chairs go!