Bell

The bell is a musical instrument and also a sound object of a hollow or conical shape, which has on the inside a rattle or a small sphere that produces sound when placed in contact with its surface. Apart from a musical instrument and a sound object, the bell has a trait that is associated with its´ presence in salutary, fertility and vegetative rituals, forms and versions of which we encounter till this day. The sound alone or in combination caused awe, excitement but also fear, strong emotions which the performers aimed at transferring to the beneficial or deleterious forces of nature, in an attempt to summon them or to exorcise them.

Bells fastened onto improvised structures accompanied the carols that children sung on Christmas, New Years, Epiphany and Lazarus day and also on the day of “helidonismata” (swallow) performed in early spring. With bells in their hands young children roam the countryside on the day of the Annunciation shaking them vigorously to chase away, with their sound, snakes something that the herders in Cyprus tried who used to hang small bells on their shepherd’s crook. The bell serves a special role in rituals of passage, with its presence it functions either as a preventive or as a symbol.This explains the presence of bells in female attire of the Dodecanese and the placement of a bell under the cushion of the newlyweds in Paxoi (Ionian island), possibly as a means of neutralizing the evil eye. Finally we encounter bells in almost every tradition and performance-“dromena” during the period of Twelve days of Christmas and the Carnival in the wider Greek region. Surrounded by primeval references to the worship of chthonic and zoomorphic deities, the bells accompanied by Dionysian sounds, with their various names “batalia”, “leria”, “tsokania”, “kypria”), components necessary and structural for the execution of the performances-“dromena”, they pass on as something sacred from generation to generation, coated with symbolic value as elements of identity of the village and its people.