2nd Junior High School of Kalymnos, Dodecanese, Greece – John Chilas, the name of sponge Boats/ Ships – “The letters”

καΐκια3In Lafasi, the shipyard-karinagio of Kalymnos, it  finished maintenance (burning, caulking, painting) of the sponge boats. Made with love and the colored belts, plumes and it is time to be writen the name of the vessel, the ‘letters’ of.
The name was written on the bow and two coils that ‘ when the sides, the rigging just above the fanarieres with lights headlamps, red at left always green on the right.
In large boats, the skeleton of ships who were stern behind, letters were usually engraved on wooden ribbons, the ends were carved seafood emblems.
For the illiterate sailors, sailors and maintainers of boats, the spelling of the name was the big problem. A welldrawn boat like the doll and well written “letter” of.
But who would dare to catch the fine brush and write the name? What if he made it bad? Goes down the drain (= unjust trouble) all the hassle of painting and boat kamouzella (bad drawned, Halloween face)!
Finally someone who caught his hand … had artistic vein, took the big decision to dare to write “letters.” The moment important. Two barrels upright or two Gadara (= quadruped triangular scaffolding) for boats up a plank and scaffold ready.
The letters inscribed with slate pencil first and then slowly become filled it with a devotion, a meditation, sheet should not be shaken. ταξιάρχης σύμης2This does not sevontousan curious fans, people of the trade, which not only sailboats left, jobs and loiter, but commented already.
– Look you C (cii) became  Katsounoto (= the reversely curved edge). And another:
– Pull down the tail  of T(tii).  I looks no tail to me!
The letters were simply black or dark blue. The most skilled calligraphers and put shadows from red or yellow color.
Sponge stood out as folk artists were Aristides and the Vavla Agesilaos the Frangos. Devotee’re both talented in painting. Sponge painted on cardboard boats, sailboats, naval ships that adorned the walls of cafes frequented. But their talent is wasted on diving.
Once appeared in Lafasi, some friends known how to write captains were doing to the letters. These were engraved on cardboard, to be stamped. Struggled, anointed themselves, smudge and boats. The only good thing they were not made spelling mistakes. What was missing too!
As a professional in writing the names makes its appearance in 1953, the Gourlas mastro John, a disciple of the famous decorator of all the churches of Kalymnos, the Trigkas.
καΐκια1In 1958 at the age of 9 years John Chilas, Mastro’s son ‘-Antonis Glaros, mason in trehantiria and boats a child of school even begins to write letters to the boats pulled down from his house, there to slide the coast of Diamantis, in cafe of his grandfather, the foundation of Kampouraki.
John Chilas, teacher today continues to write letters to almost all sponge boats and fishing boats, drawn by fishes, dolphins, mermaids on their prows.
Great fun for captain and crew as the letters were nice and fancy. The beauty of the board though and was drawing the bow, then he was thrown and their ears. They believed that the boat was taking their forces to fight with the waves and the sea elves.
The name was of prime importance, was the one entity that gave the boat. Such and such …. καΐκια7Vessel and said first named after the captain of such ELEFTHERIOS the captain of Ginnis.
Each boat had its own name and its registry, that is the number that was registered in the books of the Port Authority. The form was written about thus: AG.NIKOLAOS KAL. No. 61. The names they gave the sponge boats were many and reveal the beliefs and desires of their owners captains. Gave the names of their children, usually of the καΐκια2primitive, which had the name of their father. If the Master happened to be captain, then put ‘forward and CAPTAIN (CAP-MICHAEL). Never failed to give names and females of the family, or the captain of his beloved daughter.
But the great trouble and concerns of families with eight children captain, which of the names of his children would give the boat. Which all would stand out because all they wanted stubbornly, each for himself? Ultimately the solution given was Solomon. The boat was taking names … “THE EIGHT BROTHERS.”
Since the mid-60s young divers brothers unite their economies, their strengths and devise partnering boats. It is the new generation of captains. And the name of the boat or the father’s name or the name “three brothers.”
Some achtarmades had the name of the manufacturer or men of tarsanas (the place boats are made) as TRIPOLITIS GEORGE TRIPOLITIS that made Theophilus Saroukos-Tripolitis and Glaros (Gull)  of John Chila-Gull.
καΐκια4The names of saints were the most common, particularly of St. Nicholas, the patron of sailors and sponge. Not missing the names of the saints of the parish of Captain (YPAPANTI, AG CHARALAMPOS etc.). The saint of the parish of every captain had great faith and gifts and vows were generously.
A special place was the name MICHAEL PANORMITIS or principles. In Symi Saint and prostate divers had great love and respect with enough dose phobia, lest angry and put them together. The Palermiotis several times put his hand and saved from certain doom boats and crews. It was not unforgivable, and pulled south for work, for sponge, do not let your his bosom, n light a candle, go to the vows of them (models boats, oil lamps, sponges, et al) and his blessing.
As the sfoungarodouleia started getting back to the island of Symi, Kalymnos are purchased from the Symi achtarmades were named PANORMITIS. Alas to anyone dienoeito n change the name and put his preferred. The awful Archangel with the fiery masaira, will send him in straight in hell into the pitch and fotzies, boiling cauldrons inside like those ‘Boil the boatyard to pissosoun with the KATP vrechamena of their boats.
καΐκια5Sponge to find names and panomeritikon saints like: MARY KANALA (Paros), MARY TINOU, AG NEKTARIOS etc. These were given as offerings from captains, found kintyno winter trip when they went to the upper parts (Cyclades, Mount Athos, Ionian Islands).
The stories and the exploits of the heroes of old Greece fascinate divers and as the time came to baptize the boat and chose the name of their favorite lad, like JASON, POSEIDON NIREUS, ACHILLES, PELOPS, HERAKLEUS, as well as newer , MIAOULIS, KANARIS etc.
What we knew the illiterate, the simple glass-sponge Lazarus Diamantis the historic grandeur of the name “PARALOS” brought by boat and on what seas mind and national memory, in tempests national calamities (Venetian rule, Ottoman Empire Italokratia) voloderne centuries (405p.Ch. – 1950m.Ch.) vision of the cruiser sacred vessel of the Athenian Alliance ‘PARALOS “that the mate of the other sacred trireme” Salamina “sailed in the Aegean, to eventually arrives lefteromeno anymore in the port of Kalymnos and rewrite in Greek boat?
Or do not sταξιάρχης σύμηςhed tears of emotion to the marbles Diles, as they saw a glaucous morning in the waters cruiser with the Latin gyaladiki the boat “PARALOS KALYMNOY 12” to harrow angling sponges and not antilalise roar of the stone lions makrylamna in response the καΐκια χριστόςcompelling voice of Captain Kalymnian kouppaes to him: “Both (koupsa) forward!”.
The variety of names continues with the names of the times and the constellations (shells, MAISTROS, BIRDS, AVGERINOS (the planet Aphrodite, etc.). Not missing the names of animals and birds that stood out for their strength and skill in flying. EAGLE called great dikatarti Bratsera 120 karavoskaro him. Captain – Dimitri Kypreou, IPPOPOTAMOS (hippo) of Captain – Theod. Hula.
Apart from the major names, the sponge had nicknames with which they were known to the allied sfoungarodouleias. “TRAOS” (male goat) called the acharmas AG.DIMITRIOS of Captain Nicholas Sdrega because it was heavy and head and koutoulouse as traveling waves. “PAPANIKOLIS” was the name of Captain AG STEFANOS Sakalerou John because he was chamilovarismeno (= low inclination of the blanket of the vessel from bow to stern) and entered into the seas alive. He traveled like a submarine. “Farts” called the captain of achtarmas OSTRIA – Sdrega than the typical click, made by evaporation – the balcony of monokilyndris heavy duty engine.
Exploring the depths of memory and old sponge following an investigation into the books of the Elders of Kalymnos, spongalieftikon number of contracts, naflosymfonitikon, shipbuilding contracts and other shipping documents certifying that the years of Ottoman rule in our islands, the Greek sponge boats were – Christian names, But they brought the Ottoman flag. At No. 178/4-3-1893 with practical construction barge mentioned under the name THEOFYLAKTOS ellinikin flag!
καΐκια6So the sponge boats that sailed the coast of North Africa, but also in free Greece, without realizing it, were the consuls of primordial Greekness of the islands of the Dodecanese. Letters – Greek names on their prows, crews talked genuine, clean the Greek language with elements of the Doric dialect payment testified if anything, GREECE.
In 1912 as the Italians put leg on our islands, found in Greek sponge boat names written in the ancient script of the alphabet. Under the fraudulent plan exitalismou everything Greek conquerors hand and put the names of the boats. Forced the captains to erase from their vessels names reminiscent of Greece. The Christian will change with Latin characters. But each new vessel naftologousan necessarily give the name they wanted. So we have many Italian names mentioned names in Italian, in heroes, persons and things that only Italy and resembled Catholicism as the Toppakiou TURIN, GALETTO (cockerel) of K. Courouni, LOUPO (wolf), MODE καΐκια9GLARA, MARCONI, ISAVELLA, MINERVA, NAZARIO, TSIGONIA, et al. NORMA said his boat utensils Emm Yiallouris, known for its national action against the Italians (sentenced 19 years in prison in Italy). NORMA was the name of the Italian bitch harbor master.
These in Italian names kept until the fascists took leg of our islands by the end of the war. Then with the first drawing in the boatyard, erased all at once outlandish names, you say, and do not get up, not with these other voleftikan proud prows of the sponge boats. Rewritten again Lefteris Greek names, to remind across the whole Dounia traveling by sponge us that here was one of the gennofaskia Aegean Greek islands here and knock knock Greek boats carrying and bearing Greek – Orthodox Christian names – ‘Letters ‘.
Kalymnos, in June 1996,

John Ant. Chilas, Report for I ‘Cultural Symposium Dodecanese.


One thought on “2nd Junior High School of Kalymnos, Dodecanese, Greece – John Chilas, the name of sponge Boats/ Ships – “The letters”

  1. In this essay I will consider the social, economic and political factors of natural sponge kalymnos. At first glance natural sponge kalymnos may seem unenchanting, however its study is a necessity for any one wishing to intellectually advance beyond their childhood. While it is becoming a hot topic for debate, it is impossible to overestimate its impact on modern thought.


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