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Women's costume

The entrance of breeches in Crete brought a change in Cretan women’s outfit, in the last quarter of the 16th century. The jacket «μεϊτάνι» of the male costume was adopted and named "ziponi" and later "chrysozipono" when it was embroidered with gold thread and filled with gold embroidery.

Integral element of the daughter betrothed or married woman costume, in western and central Crete, was the "basalaki" or "pasalaki" or "argyrompounialaki". It was a silver wretch carved knife, miniature of the male knife. It was a traditional gift by the fiancé, with lots of symbolism, which was ever since worn on the belt.

Head cover of Cretan women, was a silk weaver handkerchief. When it was a transparent white veil with golden decorations and scattered gold coins, it was called "chrysoplekto". In western Crete besides this, women wore a red fez with a tassel covered with black veil, which was called "papazi". In the second quarter of the 19th century, in the western provinces, "Velio" or "Fakioli" or "fatsoli" appeared,which was, a small velvet cap, in maroon color with black lace on the edge. The "Velio” was a sign of financial comfort of the groom, who offered it to the bride along with other wedding gifts.

The main types of Ladies festive costumes of Crete, prevailing until the early 20th century are: "the costume with “ziponi” and dress", the "Sharjah" and the "Kouda." From these derived many variations or local names such as the "Sfakiani", the "Haniotiki", the "Messaritiki", the "Rethymniotiki", the "Kritsiotiki” etc. Elements such as the belt and the apron derive from the Byzantine women's clothing of the 11th century.

The "costume with ziponi and dress" was presented in the early 17th century but has the oldest elements and was worn all over Crete, but especially in the western, as ceremonial and festive. It consists of the "ziponi", the "silk long shirt," the "skirt" or "garment" (the long silk dress from fabric Damascus), the "Spaleto" (a silk scarf tied on the neck), the silk belt, the apron, the "basalaki" in the belt and the head cover silk weaver handkerchief or "papazi" or "Velio".

Men’s costume

The male traditional costume made its appearance in the early 16th century and includes the following items: breeches «βράκα», stockings «κάλτσες», waistcoat «γελέκι» (closed or open), jacket «μεϊτάνι», cape «καπότο», shirt «πουκάμισο», belt «ζωνάρι», folding fez «σπαστόφεσάκι», or fringed kerchief «σαρίκι», silverknife «ασημομάχαιρο», chain «καδένα» and boots «στιβάνια».

It was sewed and embroidered by expert tailors, called "Terzidhes". The decorative embroidery made with dark blue or black silk twisted strings, called "Hartza", were made and sold by specialist craftsmen, named "Kazazis" or brought by merchants and "Terzidhes" from Egypt.

The striking feature of the costume is the breeches. In Western Crete it was called "kartsa", while on the east "sialvari". The plural form of those terms, “breeches” or "salvaria", prevailed throughout the island, meaning the whole costume.

After the First World War Cretans started using a different type of trousers called “kilota”, that looks like the trousers used by the French cavalry soldiers.

The traditional Cretan festive shirt, woven, silk or cotton, was mostly white.

The traditional head cover of the costume was either the red folding fez with a black tassel or the "turban" in the form of large veil known as "skin" «πέτσα». The modern braided black silk kerchief, considered nowadays the traditional Cretan head cover, with dense fringes resembling tears, made his appearance in the second quarter of the 20th century in central Crete. It is said that it has many fringes to show the many years of Ottoman rule in Crete and symbolize with their shape, sadness and grief caused by the holocaust of Arkadi Monastery in 1866.

A special feature of the costume is the silver knife. During the Venetian rule it was called "Bounialo" or "Pounialo". During the Turkish occupation it was called "Passalis." The typical knife in the form preserved until today appeared in the late 18th century. The grip was called "manika" and appeared in a variety of shapes. The most prevalent form was the one that the ending of the handle was fishtail-shaped or otherwise V-shaped. The knives with dark horn handles were called "mavromanika". and formerly "skouromachaira". The blade wretch was called “foukari" and was silver handmade, carved with the chisel. The silver wretch is particularly striking and has high aesthetic value with rich decoration. It was the main male jewel and indicated the social status and economic situation of the Cretan who wore it, characterizing the "kaloseirous" (individuals coming from good families) and was also a sacred and integral part of warriors armors.

In approximately mid 1950s, the gold embroidery appeared on male Cretan costume, when special forces of Cretan breach wearing Palatial Guard was established (called Military House of His Majesty). The design of their costume was based on the traditional costume of the Cretans, in the Cretan Gendarmerie outfit and the costume of “Kavasides”. From the second it borrowed the red waistcoat «γελέκι» and the type of decoration of the jacket «μεϊτάνι». From the third the shade of decoration. White braids of Cretan gendarmes were replaced by the golden ones of “Kavasides” and became what, nowadays, decorate the clothes of Cretan breach wearing guards of the Presidential House.

Brief history of the Cretan musical instruments

The musical tradition of Crete reflects the history, culture and the experiences of its inhabitants. These elements are present in all the dances, from the slow trolling dances, such as «syrtos» and «siganos» to the military – war, jumping (pidihtos) dances, such as the famous «Pentozali», «Kastrinos pidihtos» or «Maleviziotis»,  «Lassithiotikos pidihtos», «Ethianos pidihtos», «Gergianos pidihtos», «Priniotis», «Roumatiani sousta» and can be traced from the 18th century as far as the antiquity since the majority of them originate from the ancient pyrrhic dance.

Traditional musical instruments to perform the dances are the violin (formerly and viololyra) or lyre (with or without gerakokoudouna), accompanied by the lute. Besides the lute, as traditional accompaniment instruments may be: the guitar, the mandolin, the daoulaki (only in the Sitia area), the askomantoura, the champioli, the mantoura and the boulgari. Today, bass and drums are added, but they are not traditional instruments.