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Axecraft masters

Another important craft in Cariati is the small shipbuilding activity. The presence of wood craftsmen specialized in the construction of fishing boats and pleasure boats call to Cariati lovers of the sea  of southern Italy. The the axe masters art wasn’t born on site but was imported in 1920 by a skilled craftsman from the Amalfi Coast, a certain Monti Natale, which from Maiori, near Salerno, landed on our coast called by many fishermen to build boats. After the first boat, Monti Natale, also had many requests by the fishermen of Rossano, Corigliano and  Sibari, so he decided to conduct his business in Cariati, where he settled with his wife and little child  Vincent of only 2 years old. Next to his home near the beach Natale created a small arsenal in the open air where after  was annexed a shed that was for decades  the site of the Monti’s.

The family tradition continued with his sons Vincent and Cataldo. his first son,after returning from the II world war  spent several years in Salerno, where he was able to refine, in shipyards, what he had learned in his father's site. At the end of the apprenticeship he achieved  the diploma of Axe master, released by the hobour office of the sea Port of Salerno. Vincenzo Monti in 1950 returned to continue the art and his father and brother Cataldo held the active site for about 40 years. If this art still exists here it is merit to Montesanto Antonio,  a Cariati thoroughbred and only master of axes on the  whole Ionian coast, which, since childhood, followed the  Monti brothers Vincenzo and  Cataldo and learnt the craft and art with great passion. Antonio Montesanto with the help of his nephew Cataldo Aiello,a young ax master, and a staff of builders built any type of boat. The Montesanto yard is located in Contrada Magarelli, called AR BA (Artisan boats), is divided into two parts: the sea part where there are old boats , those under construction and timber shed where there are planes, chain saws, drills and  the inevitable axe.


The Vuculari

Pottery art is a typical craft activity of Cariati from ancient origin yet now almost extinct. The potters had their own small workshops concentrated in a neighborhood called the "Vucalari" name derived from "vucalu", an earthenware pot with handle and spout used to hold water. The potter's house was very poor (the only laboratory tools were the lathe and a bench). The old process was family conducted: the women collected  twigs and paid attention to drying, the children would prepare the clay and the men took care of the lathe. The clay was mixed with a lot of water by young people and children who, for hours, had to step on  it with their feet to make it pliable. The clay was then shaped with a lathe, consisting of two floors connected by a circular vertical axis. The lathe was operated with the left foot of the vucalaru to make it turn then thanks to the expert hands of the potter, gave shape to those vucali that amaze by their perfection. The craftsman to scratch and line the pots, used a few pieces of a broken comb, to remove the pot from the wheel used a  thin file. Then were put in the sun to dry and later cooked in a kiln  for about six hours at 900 degrees.  An apprentice employed several years before becoming a "mastru vucalaru",it began with simple works such  as "rasticeddi (small plant pots) and worked its way to more complexed works.Today this activity is almost completely vanished, but in the past constructed objects  made by our vucalari were known and appreciated throughout all the South.

The handicraft production has been replaced by industrial Vucalari in the district, where once there 'huts were used to work with clay and kilns, today there are new buildings. The few vucalari present in Cariati no longer work by hand, there are no young apprentices willing to learn and pass on the ‘art of  pottery’

The objects of  old tradition Pottery best known are:

  • The vucali: clay jars used to contain drinking water.
  • A Ciarra: jars used for storage of olives in salt or to contain  'oil.
  • A Limmo: large enamel inside bowl .
  • A rasta: pots for plants.
  • A gummula: small  water jars;
  • A rasta p'ira smooth, large container in which  laundry was rudimentarly done (ash and hot water).
  • A lincedda: pot-bellied with a wide neck, full of water drawn from the fountain.
  • U tarzaluru: container for various  supplies put under salt to season.
  • A tianedda: pan used to prepare sauces or main dishes.
  • A piñata: pot usually used for cooking dry seed vegetables, using the heat of an open fire

Weaving and textile craft

Textile producing is the craft activity best known and most interesting of Cariati. It has a  very ancient origin and was imported from eastern places by those people who managed to return to the country after being  deportated in Turkey, following a number of pirate raids during the  fifteenth century. According to a popular legend, very dear to people of Cariati, the art of weaving was introduced in our city by a young woman, Laura, in 1544, during the siege of the pirate Dim Khir called  Barbarossa, she was captured and brought to Constantinoply where she became the favorite of the Sultan. The beautiful Laura lived for many years in eastern land, there she learned the wonderful art of weaving rugs and blankets of different shining coluors on the frame, but her thoughts were always turned towards the beloved land of Calabria,to her Cariati. On the death of the Sultan, when she was finally able to return to Cariati, Laura made known to her villagers the wonderful art of weaving that’s still a boast of a 'craftship in Cariati. Weavers were once many in Cariati and produced rugs, tapestries and carpets, brightly coloured and very intense with special designs: baskets, bouquets roses, stars,rhombs and other designs that recall the Magna- Greek art. The visit to the weaving workshop of Mrs.Maria Russo, a skilled weaver of Cariati and interview has led to a complete knowledge of this wonderful art in via of extinction.

The frame

The handloom weave of Cariati is of ancient workmanship, built by local craftsmen. Today in Cariati  there are perhaps a dozen, but once in every family there was a frame. The frame is made of chestnut wood and through the action of levers and pedals and the sliding of the shuttle in the warp, allowing the weaver to weave the yarn of cotton, wool, silk and pearls. The frame  parts are many and all important for its use: nigghiulu, palummedde, sugghiordituru, Lizzi, Cruci, mbrighedda, Peracchi, mortalaru, Cassita.

The work on the frame

The stame is purchased in rolls, unwinded with the 'spinning wheel (a Nimule) and then transferred  in the frame through a complicated system that sorts them into bands arranged also the weft thread, the weaver starts its work which may be: smooth (if the design is uniform in texture) and with pizzilunu (which is obtained by raising the points by hand with a big needle). For blanket work  three separate frames are used then  are  joined  with invisible hand stitches. The wonderful thing is that the blanket once finished, seems to have been made once all at the same time because the pattern is unique,infact the central part (Zemp u) is worked in a wide square, around it is a wider strip (paranzula) and one narrow(u pizzettu) bounded by profiles (Pamfilo) the finishing is a fringe around the borders.

The Zempere

The Zempere are samples which designs are taken from to make blankets, mats and carpets and  are a treasured and passed through generations, some are invented by weavers  observing an object and are jealously kept because they are considered an exclusive creation of the  Gnura mastr in words the master weaver . The  Zempere  best known are: the bunch, the vineyard, the hunt, the 'air Stidda ,a voculidda, u prat ,il'angeli , rasta'cu oceddi, u crapiu , u per'ira Cerza, and a Greek. From the frame come  beautiful blankets that are highly valued and searched  by tourists and lovers of handcrafts.



For Info and Reservation:

Via G. Garibaldi, 59 (CS)
87063 Cariati Old Town
Mob. +39 333-4045284
Off. +39 0983-968734
Fax. +39 0983-532976



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