Treasures of Kastellorizo

Treasures of Kastellorizo – From the Cabinets of the Memory Keepers
15th & 16th August, 2015

This display, held at the clubrooms, brought together items donated to the Kastellorizian Association of Victoria’s archives, and pieces from private collections, including jewellery, talismans, elaborate traditional clothing, embroidery, samplers, household items, and some historical photographs.

All items on display came to Australia mainly in the period of the early 1900s through to the late 1930s, from the Greek Island of Kastellorizo, with many of the items having been handed down through several generations.

The Island of Kastellorizo was severely bombed, and burnt, while the remaining inhabitants were evacuated during World War II. Many of their possessions were destroyed or looted. It is probably true to say that the largest collection of historical Kastellorizian jewellery, costumes, household items and artifacts is scattered throughout Australia, brought here through immigration.

One of the aims of the display was to encourage people to document their own possessions from a bygone era, and the associated stories, to keep memories of their heritage alive to pass to the next generation. Younger people were encouraged to drop in and view the display.

In addition to the display, Mr Nicholas Bogiatzis, co-author of An Island in Time, presented a talk on traditional Kastellorizian jewellery and artifacts. Attendees were encouraged to bring in items for viewing and discussion.

The display was part of the celebration of 90 years of continuous operation of the Kastellorizian Association of Victoria.

The event was a huge success, with many visitors and a capacity crowd staying on to hear Nick Bogiatzis talk on Kastellorizian Jewellery and other items such as traditional clothing and carpets.

President of the Kastellorizian Association of Victoria, Dr Nick Lolatgis was delighted with the attendance at the display and talk. “The level of interest amongst Kastellorizians in learning more about their heirlooms bodes well for the continued preservation of their treasures. It was particularly pleasing that there were also younger people attending the talk. The full event was filmed and will be a valuable addition to the Club’s archives, and I suspect there will be demand for the film to be available to members, and to other interested people, ” said Dr Lolatgis.

Many women wore or brought in their gold jewellery for Mr Bogiatzis to discuss, making it a glittering occasion. Over a number of years, and with invaluable input from many people, as well as available published material, Nick Bogiatzis has sought to compile a list of terms for traditional jewellery and coins once used in Kastellorizo. He is both a researcher and collector of such material. The comprehensive list was made available to all at the talk.

“The work involved in putting the display together – the costumes, jewellery, embroidery and household and religious items – was hugely rewarded by the evident enjoyment of all those who attended,” said Mrs Connie Gregory, who curated the event.

“Mr Bogiatzis spoke for one-and-a-half hours to an attentive audience who would happily have stayed on for much longer, as he was such a charismatic and knowledgeable speaker”, said Mrs Gregory. “He also brought along a large and startling image of the island of Kastellorizo, taken from a plane about to bomb the island in 1943.

The event was supported by the Victorian Multicultural Commission.