During the summer, a community engagement project involving students from UCLA, Simon Fraser University, and the University of British Columbia will take place in the village of Geraki, Greece. The project is underwritten by Gefyra, a collaborative initiative of UCLA and SFU supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF). The Geraki Weavers Project is dedicated to cataloguing traditional woven arts in Geraki, which has a rich heritage of textile production and weaving techniques passed down through generations. Part of the project includes collaborative studies with archaeologists from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the Ephoreia of Lakonia who have studied ancient and medieval Geraki, revealing material evidence of weaving over the millennia. An additional component is the study of ornamental patterns in Geraki’s many Byzantine churches, which may have stimulated or responded to patterns in woven textiles.
The project aims to support the Geraki weavers, who hope to preserve and revitalize the traditional art of weaving in Geraki through their teaching and the study of traditional textile production. The facilitators involved in the project will provide a platform for the weavers to showcase their craft on a global scale. By promoting their work, the project aims to enhance economic opportunities and ensure the continuation of weaving practices in Geraki.
In addition to supporting the weavers, the project aims to contribute to academic knowledge dissemination. The facilitators will gather information about the weaving techniques, patterns, and cultural significance specific to Geraki and share these findings through academic publications, interviews, and videos. By doing so, the project seeks to promote a greater understanding and appreciation of the weaving heritage in Geraki for the academic community and general public.
An important aspect of the project is the documentation and preservation of an important Greek craft tradition. Recognizing the cultural significance of the weaving tradition in Geraki, the project aims to document and safeguard traditional patterns, motifs, and weaving methods. This involves close collaboration with local weavers to gather valuable knowledge and insights, ensuring the preservation of this intangible cultural heritage.
The weaving project in Geraki is driven by the objectives of empowering local weavers, preserving traditional knowledge, facilitating market access, and fostering community engagement. Through these efforts, the project not only contributes to the socio-economic development of the community but also preserves and promotes Greece’s rich cultural heritage for future generations.