Pramanta

Pramanta

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PRAMANTA

In a mountainous region with an intense geographical relief

Located on the southeast of Epirus and west of the Arachthos river, in a mountainous region with an intense geographical relief characterized by impressive ridges, extensive spruce forests, rivers, ravines and slopes, located Pramanta, a big village of Ioannina Prefecture and seat of the Municipality of Northern Tzoumerka.

It is built amphitheatrically at an altitude of approximately 840m. at the foot of Strongoula (2.107m), one of the most spectacular peaks of the Tzoumerka Mountains or the Athamanian Mountains. (Besides, the story of Tzoumerka starts with the king Athamas, from which his name “Athamanian Mountains The village Pramanta belongs to the cultural unity of the Tzoumerkohoria (villages of Tzoumerka), but at the same time together with other villages (Christoι, Ambelochori , Ktistades, Raptanei) belongs to the unity of Mastorochoria of Tzoumerka.

HISTORY AND INFORMATION

From Pramanta comes the famous master builder Costas Bekas (1825-1899), who built the wonderful and historic Bridge of Plaka (1866) and not only that. Bekas was an empirical craftsman. Also, Pramanta is the birthplace of Dimitrios F. Karatzenis (1904-1989), famous lawyer, politician and historical author.

The place name Pramanta appears for the first time in a document of the Venetian Republic in 1697. According to historical records, three are the main versions of the designation of origin.

  1. The linguists Charalambos Symeonidis and Max Vasmer argue that the origin of the word Pramanta is Slavic,
  2. The historian Panagiotis Aravantinos reports that the area was called Prοmanta because it served as an oracle of Dodoni and 3) according to the oral tradition, the name derives from the word pramata ,terminology with which it refers to goats and sheep According to Dimitrios Karazenis (“HISTORY-LAOGRAPHY», Pramanta Tzoumerka”), the animals of Christi and the other settlements grazed in the area of ​​today’s “Kato Mahalas” mainly during the summer months. Animals in the local dialect are called pramata .Thus, the village was originally called Pramata and after a decision of the Town Hall was added, for euphony, the n and became Pramanta.

It is unknown when the original settlement was founded. Some finds (traces of ancient settlement, a stonecutter, fortified ruins, cyclopean walls, etc.), found in the area of ​​the Panagia, Aghios Vassilios and Christoi settlements date back to the Neolithic Age.

More specifically, in 1930, historian Nicholas Hammond, one of the most important English Hellenists, found a stone rectangle ax near the church of the Virgin Mary in Pramanta and in Christ, in the area of Pramanta, an ambitious bronze ax, which was an effective weapon and spread to mainland Greece from the Aegean Sea. However, without a more systematic research, we cannot say with confidence that the area has been inhabited since then. But we certainly know that the whole area with the surrounding villages had been inhabited since ancient times, and somewhere in the middle of the 15th century it also showed great growth.

Before the creation of the village of Pramanta in the surrounding area, various settlements from the Alexandrian period, such as St. Basil and others later, were created. One of those who evolved, especially after the fall of Constantinople (1453 AD) to a great state for that time, was Christi. From 1100 AD, which started the raids of the barbarians until the time of Ali Pasha, christian Greeks from Albania, Thesprotia, Zagori and Macedonia arrived in the area of ​​Christi looking for shelter. So it has numbered about 1200 families scattered across the area. The morphology of the terrain (dense forests, craggy parts, but also flats and fertile soils suitable for cultivation) made it a safe haven for staying and surviving.

At the time of the peak of Christi, the area of ​​the present village of Pramanta was a dense and impermeable forest. Before the fall of Constantinople, the core of the Pramadites began to be created. The Byzantine State could not protect the distant provinces, so wealthy Greek families from parts of Epirus under Albanian pressure and persecution, resorted to the inaccessible areas of Tzoumerka to be saved. Thus, at the beginning of the 15th century, a new village was created, which was originally named “Selio”, which in the Albanian means village. Over the years, families from Souli, North Epirus (Himara, Gjirokaster) and Parga began to settle first in Christi and later, especially in 1700-1750, in the neighborhoods of Pramanta, resulting in the mid-19th century the village Christi loose most of the population that had been moved and settled in Pramanta.

During the 18th to 19th centuries and during the time of Ali Pasha, several livestock families, originating from Zagori, Souli, North Epirus, as well nomadic Sarakatsans populations began to come and settle in various neighborhoods of Pramanta. It is also said at that time Pramana was created was created by breeders of the neighboring village of Christoi and by some others who were looking for shelter to escape the robber raids. And they found it in the inaccessible Tzoumerka.Therefore the present inhabitants of the village are the descendants of the old native inhabitants of the surrounding settlements and of the persecuted Greek Christians of the rest of Epirus and Christi were the cradle of the inhabitants since they first accepted the refugees.

The establishment of livestock families continued in the years to come.

From the very old times, Pramanta, Syrrako and Kalarrytes were part of Arta.During the 17th century the Turkish occupation was shadowy and the military force stationed in Arta was unable to protect the inhabitants from the various raids. Many armatoloi from the Turkish commanders and from the Christian communities undertook the service of streets guarding, but many times they believed that the robberies were more profitable and they robberred. They then paid the Turks (the well-known baksheesh (bribe) and managed to return to their service. As a result, the security of Arta and Tzoumerka was inadequate.

During the 17th century, when the Peloponnese was under Venetian occupation, the corsair Limberakis Gerakaris, corsair from Mani of Peloponnisos ,who, in that year, had joined the service of the Venetians, made an invasion against Arta and its villages and plundered the place. After that, a delegation of Arta’s elders asked for protection from the Venetian Republic and promised to pay an annual duty of subordination to the Venetian Republic.

Indeed, the document issued in the same year lists all the villages of Tzoumerka. Thus, from 1695 Tzoumerka and Pramanta were under the protection of the Venetian Republic and paid the agreed tax and at the same time the Turkish tax.

Pramanta participated in the 1821 struggle and became the center of the Klephts (armed illegal groups who lived in the countryside) and Armatoloi (armed Christians who were engaged by the Ottoman authorities and assigned to them the maintenance of order in an area). From Pramanta and neighboring Melissourgoi, the chieftains George Karaiskakis and Gogos Bacola, recruited the first revolutionary corps. The locations above the monastery of Agia Paraskevi became gymnastic fields of the revolutionaries. In July 1821, the hordes of Hurssit Pasha, the hordes of Hurssit Pasha, having already destroyed Syrrako and Kalarrytes, burned Pramanta. The inhabitants of Pramanta – men and women – had resorted to protection on the Strogoula’s ridges. From there, headed by chieftain Gogos Bacolas, they attacked and, after a tough battle, drove the conquerors.For fear of retaliation, several families resorted to Aitoloakarnania, Evritania, Arta and the Peloponnese. In the same year, many inhabitants of Pramanta participated in several battles, in Theodorianas, Tripolis, Argos, Dervenakia and elsewhere, under the leadership of Kitsos Tzavelas, Markos Botsaris, George Karaiskakis, Papaflessas and other chieftains. They participated in the Battle of Plaka in 1822, in the siege of Messolonghi, in the battle of Peta in 1854 and more generally in the Revolution of Arta as well as in other places where the revolution grew. The fear of retaliation again forced families to immigrate and settle mainly in the villages of Evritania.

In Pramanta there was a school operating since 1864. In 1873 there were 2000 residents and two Greek schools operated with 210 students, supported by subscriptions. Eight years later in 1881 and three years after the Treaty of Berlin (July 1878), the village, as well as a wider part of Epirus, was liberated and annexed to the Greek state.

The Province of Tzoumerka was established, consisting of the municipalities of Theodoriana, Agnanta, Pramanta and Kalarrytes, with Pramanta be the capital of Province. Within a short time the village was organized with the establishment of the Postal Office and the County Court in Pramanta and a Customs Guard and Sanitary Station to Christi. In the same year on August 20th in the parliamentary elections that took place, Tzoumerka claimed 2 seats.

In 1883, the Municipality of Pramanta was established and operated until 1912. In 1912 he was detached from the municipality of Pramanta and became the seat of his own homonymous community, which passed (1925) from the Province of Arta and Tzoumerka of Arta’s Prefecture in the province of Ioannina in the Prefecture of Ioannina.

But, despite the fact that the borders were set on the Arachthos River, the village was not completely free since it was feud of Abraham Pasha,who in 1888 sold it to the big landowner Karapanos for 3500 gold pounds, who had also bought other villages of Tzoumerka.

The formion of the large tsifliks in Arta and Thessaly had begun between 1878 till 1881 the year that the Treaty of Berlin was signed and Arta and Thessaly were annexed to the Greek State.

The absolute liberty was acquired when the inhabitants bought it (9/8/1889) from Karapanos for 4200 gold pounds. In 1897 Pramanta became a military center, where the habitants helped the other Epirus villages beyond the Arachthos river, which were still under the Turkish yoke, since freedom for them came in 1913 with the liberation of Ioannina.

The area of ​​Tzoumerka experienced the great reorganizations caused by World War I and the National Divide. In the wars that followed (World War II, Civil War) many residents lost their lives, while many were forced to flee their homeland, especially when the village was burned by German troops.

On the morning of May 1, 1967, the second day of Easter, a strong earthquake measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale caused extensive damage. Pramanta was among the villages of Tzoumerka where the greatest intensity was observed.

In 1997 Pramanta became the seat of the then newly established Municipality of Pramanta, while in 2010 with the program “Kallikratis” it became the seat of the Municipality of V. Tzoumerka.

OCCUPATIONS

LIVESTOCK-TSELINGATA

Since the period of antiquity in the Tzoumerka region, livestock farming, forestry and the limited cultivation of land due to small arable land were the main productive activity . Livestock breeders have created the tseligata (a type of informal cooperative associations) which have prevailed almost until our days, but not with the same dynamics of the past. Tseligata was created by the need to share large-scale pastures, due to the absence of security at that time and the lack of credit institutions for the financial assistance of individual breeders. The breeders joined their flocks under the leadership of the economically stronger, tseligas, which had the most animals and who could more easily rent meadows for the wintering of communities and individuals Tseliga’s area of influence was not limited to the sphere production but extended to the entire social life of the collaborators breeders and their families.

The tseligato had much in common with modern economic enterprises and its organization was based on the principle of complementarity of capital and labor. The tseligas had livestock, land and credit facilities, while contracting breeders without livestock offered labor and mixed labor together with their livestock. Tseligato, however, was not only a cooperative that cared for the exploitation of production but it affected personal relationships and regulated social functions.

The relationship between the tseligas and the breeders who framed his tseligato, evolved over time into relationships of absolute dependence. The tseligas, the dominant figure in the formation from an economic point of view, were also the protector on a social and political level.

Under his rule his subjects enjoyed not only “financial security” but also social and political protection thanks to the power and influence of the tseliga, beyond the boundaries of locality, through its external links with powerful individuals or representatives of the state.

The relationship between the tseligas and the breeders who framed his tseligato, evolved over time into relationships of absolute dependence. The tseligas, the dominant figure in the formation from an economic point of view, were also the protector on a social and political level.

Under his rule his subjects enjoyed not only “financial security” but also social and political protection thanks to the power and influence of the tseliga, beyond the boundaries of locality, through its external links with powerful individuals or representatives of the state.

The herd’s management cycle was determined by two main stations, the transition from winter to summer pastures and vice versa. A landmark for these trips was the celebrations of St. George and St. Demetrius, dates of travel to and from the winter pastures where the weather conditions were clearly more favorable.

Apart from the context of the semi-nomadic livestock farming, which concerned the bigger or smaller flocks, the inhabitants were also active in livestock farming (goats, cows), the care of which was mainly undertaken by women.

Between 1920 and 1950 a series of events led to a decline in nomadic livestock farming. During the 1920s the expropriation of tsifliks and their distribution to landless and refugees take place. This fact, during the 1920s, had as result, large areas that had previously been used as meadows to be sliced ​​and shared among growers with small estates. It was no longer able to rent large adjoining land for the grazing of the numerous herds of tselingata. The division of the meadows led to the decline of the tselingata, which was completed in the 1940s with the Occupation and the Civil War, and immediately afterwards in the 1950s with the massive migration of the inhabitants.

Named Pramantian tseligades (the men at the head of tseligato) were Zaharis Molonis and Xristos Gioti Tsiligiannis. In the years of Ali Pasha Saplauras was named and who had 6.000 sheep and goats. The descendants of these breeders, who once flooded the mountains and plains with their herds, still continue to follow old habits even today, moving every year in winter and summer to winter pastures and summer meadows, respectively, but not with the same dynamic of the past.

The descendants of these breeders, who once flooded the mountains and plains with their herds, still continue to follow old habits even today, moving every year in winter and summer to winter pastures and summer meadows, respectively, but not with the same dynamic of the past.

Mountain life was difficult and over the years, livestock farming and primitive agriculture could not feed the population that grew and the few fields and pastures were not enough. On the other hand, the treatment of nomadic breeders by permanent residents in the seasonal movements of their flocks was hostile and the taxation of the Turks was predatory. Additionally, predatory raids and herd epidemics decimated their property. The only solution was to turn to a new vocational orientation and an ally in their problem turned out to be the stone. The creation of stone in artwork made them known beyond the boundaries of their region. They became sought-after craftsmen, others dealing with stone, building homes, churches, bridges and others with wood as carpenters or woodcarvers. In their hands the stone and the wood turned into artworks. In the slightest error or imperfection they found they did not hesitate to spoil their creation and rebuild it. They measured the quality and not the quantity.

For the Pramantians craftsmen, new horizons opened beyond the borders of their homeland. They emigrated in order to have some financial comfort, but also to improve the living standards of their home country. Since the Ottoman domination, especially from the beginning of the 18th century onwards, they have gained a great reputation, especially in the surrounding area, and have made a famous Mastorochori (craftsmen-village) all over Greece.

The Pramantians craftsmen traveled organized into “mpouloukia” (=troop, people who travel in groups for work) by undertaking some public -or private- constructions such as bridges, monasteries, houses, fountains, streets, churches, schools and many other beautiful buildings in different villages and towns not only in Greece and the Balkans but also in Europe. Their own works are the tall stone mansions in the village, the large square and the fountain of Arapis and the monastery of Agia Paraskevi.

The craftsmen, during their work in the building, used a dialect created by themselves to interact with each other Their dialect was called “koudaritika” coming from the word “Koudaris”. that means the “craftsman”. This secret language was an alloy of Greek with foreign words.

The “koudaritika” is a language with poor vocabulary, with words that which altogether do not exceed the 500 and which refer mainly to the concepts of money, food, relations between masters and owners, the building materials they used every day .But they were more than enough to compose phrases useful for their work without being perceived by their bosses, even if they were present in the speech.

AGOGIATES

One of the main and old professions of the Pramantians was that of the carrier ( agogiates= transporters of people and goods over long distances ). These people are also mentioned by Dimitrios Karatzenis, historian and folklorist from Pramanta.

For years these people have been doing this work constantly, irrespective of the weather. Life in the countryside was difficult at the time before the 1940s, when the mountainous villages without roads were excluded due to bad weather. The Pramantian carriers (agogiates) madetransfers from the towns to the village and vice versa. In addition to transporting food and other things they also transported families to the summer holiday destination. Until the 1940s war, the number of mules that made up the caravan was 900. Of the mules, a small number belonged to the livestock farmers who were occasionally engaged in transport. Every Tuesday they left the village, on Wednesday they arrived in Arta, on Thursday they were shopping and on Friday morning, independently of weather conditions, they took the road back to reach the village on Saturday night and Sunday morning to sell their merchandise in the courtyard of the church. On Monday they were resting and on Tuesday they started the route again. The agogiates had also their own shops supplying them with products sold by women and their children the other days of the week the other days of the week that were missing. And of course there were also trains that kept them much longer away from their fires in much more distant places than Arta and with paths in the mountains of Pindos. And grooming of mules was another tiring job. The mules were sturdy and could carry up to 130 okes (turkish unit of weight)  (167 kilos). And the purchase price of a mule pre-war reached 19,000 drachmas equal to half the price of a car.

The same work was done by the neighbors of Melissourgoi. Exhaustive work and most of them died at the age of 50-60 years. This profession was lost with the appearance of cars and the endless suffering of these people ended and only the stories are witnesses of a harsh era.

TAILORS

Another profession occupied by the inhabitants was that of the tailor. This activity was complementary and seasonal and, as a rule, moved to different areas away from their village carrying the equipment of their work. Like the other categories of professionals, the tailors also had their own dialectic language, the “boukoureika”. According to the headmaster, author and folklorist Christos Soulis (1892-1951), the home of “boukoureika” is the village Katarraktis. From Katarraktis, the dialect was transmitted to the tailors of Agrafa, Epirus and the areas of Valtos and Xiromero in Aitoloakarnania. This language was used to prevent their customers from understanding them.

MUSIC AND DANCES

Northern Tzoumerka can hardly be identified from a musicological point of view. Apart from the local companies that were created in the Vlach villages of Syrrako and Kalarrytes, the rest of the area was supplied mainly with companies from Ioannina. Characteristic of the local peculiarity is mainly the repertoire, which, even in its Vlach version, insists on “heavy” and “in the place”, tsamika, with many references to the kleftiko song. The dances are skillful and expressive. The main companies are those of the Gerodima and Diamantis families from Pramanta.

The oral memory in Tzoumerka is associated with historical events that were recorded as symbols of resistance and freedom and are preserved in the memory of people even those who have left their place. In the area of ​​Tzoumerka we meet the custom of the dance “Kangelari” which is an imposing circular dance. It is done once a year and everyone participates. It got its name from the clockwise and counterclockwise shootings that the dancers go around in “Circles” and the name “Kangelari” is later.

Written and oral testimonies state that the “Kangelari” was created during the Turkish occupation, but there is also the view that it is related to Ancient Greece and the feasts of Demeter and Persephone.

The “Kangelari” is not a specific dance, but a ritual act with a deeper meaning that is hidden under its simple form. The inhabitants dance in circles with their elbows, which indicates the unity and continuity of the community, and the rhythm of the song and the steps are slow and monotonous, characteristic of the initiation ceremonies.

The universal participation and the back-to-back arrangement of the dancers was an excellent opportunity for the young people to get acquainted. This provision also helped in the greater communication of the inhabitants, especially during the years of Ottoman rule. The meaning of the songs had a completely different interpretation for the “initiates” An important place in the “Circles” had the saints whose people wanted protectors in every phase of life as well as the foreigners who were welcomed, a sample of the Tzoumerka hospitality. Cultural associations for years make efforts to survive this event with its various musical, poetic and dance variants.

Pramanta today

Unfortunately today there are no traditional buildings in the village, except for a few. The burning of the village by the Germans and the earthquake of 1967 destroyed many of the traditional houses. Old houses that are examples of local architecture are the houses of Vourlokas, Giannikostas, Stamos, Karakostas, Tsirkas, Tsikos.

In the center of Pramanta is the beautiful cobbled square with the huge old plane tree, which was and is a reference point for the festive events of the religious festivals and the meetings of the expatriate residents during the summer days that are gathered in their birthplace.

The square is dominated by the central church of Agia Paraskevi which has been designated as a historical monument and the Fountain of Arapis which represents a human head with a tap coming out of its mouth. It is the work of Pramantian master builder Vassilios Chr. Georgakis and was created in 1887. The name, it is said, comes from a black man (arapis) who stood here and collected the taxes of servitude.

The Monument of the Woman of Pramanta is a culpture in the center of the village reminiscent the contribution of the women to the nation’s struggles.

Watermill – whirlpool – mantania: Historic listed building owned by the Tsaktsiras brothers. It is a ground floor stone building of simple folk architecture with a rectangular plan. Built in 1935 is perhaps the only case of co-housing water mill, whirlpool and mantania.

The area of ​​Tzoumerka in recent years has made huge leaps in the promotion of tourism, with the participation and involvement of professionals and with the support of institutions.

Today Pramanta is a lively village in the center of the area and the seat of the Municipality of North Tzoumerka with a population of about 800 inhabitants, which in summer exceeds 1500. It has taverns, patisseries, cafes and nightlife. It also has a modern Health Center, pharmacy, environmental education center, gas station, bank, ATM, post office, police station and schools of all levels. In this traditional village, which combines the modern way of life, the visitor can find information about everything he needs.

Tourism development in recent years is at a high level with the creation of hotels and hostels in the area. The quality infrastructure of the accommodation and the local gastronomy are key elements of a comfortable stay

The experiences gained by the visitor are quality experiences related to the experiential approach of the impressive nature of Tzoumerka and the monuments of the cultural heritage. “Active” tourism enriches the travel experience, and leads the visitor to more and more specialized activities.

The range of activities in such a natural environment is large and the options depend on the time available, the endurance and the mood. Mountains, and peaks for mountaineering enthusiasts, hiking trails, visit to waterfalls,rafting in Arachthos and Kalarrytikos, gorge descent for the adventurous, car trips to the surrounding traditional villages, visits to monasteries, churches and bridges. A special destination beyond the summer months.

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