Skyros – “Geroi” and “Koreles”

Skyros (Skyros Municipality, Euboea County)
“Geroi” (Old men) and “Koreles” (Girls)- Last Sunday of Carnival

 

The characters that dominate the carnival of Skyros are those of the “Geros”, the “Korela” and the “Frangos”. The “Geros” wears the typical woolen cape of shepherds turned upside down, with the hairy side outward, an element that in conjunction with the mask made of small animal´s pelt that covers the face, gives him a distinct ferocity. The hood of the cape, fastened with a belt, covers the head, and the costume is completed with woollen pants (“kontovratsi”), white woven socks and typical shepherd´s leather sandals, called “trochadia”. In his back he puts rags or an old pillow that gives the impression of a hump. On one hand he holds a wooden curved shepherd´s stick and on the other a bag with flour or bran, necessary for his encounter with the people on the way to the square. But what spreads fear and awe in his passage is the sound of 50-60 bells that are fastened with wooden hoops placed through a rope, the “litari”, to hang freely and thunder as he moves rhythmically through the narrow streets of the island. The interpretations of the origins of this masquerade vary. Legend has it that a reckless shepherd appeared in the village square, dressed in animal pelts that perished in heavy winter, loaded with the bells of the flock and accompanied by his wife dressed in rags. Most likely, however, is the interpretation that its roots go deeper than that and are associated with Dionysian fertility rituals.

 

The “Geros” is accompanied by the “Korela”, a man dressed in women's attire from Skyros. She wears an embroidered skirt, the “skouta”, which is covered by a white petticoat and an embroidered apron. In the upper body she wears a silk shirt and gold-weaved vest over it (“mentene”). On her feet she also wears leather sandals same as those that “Geros” wears and she holds a scarf waving it rhythmically to the sound of the Carnival song, known as “Korela´s song”. The performer that completes the cast is the “Frangos”, a young man dressed in old “European” clothes. On the waist he has a shepherd´s bell while he holds a sea shell (“bourou”) and with it teases people who are passing by. According to an old tradition brides, called “Nyfades”, also participated in the carnival and were young men dressed in bridal dresses who roamed the streets, performing under the protection of an armed man disguised as a Janissary.

 

Forming small groups, the “Geroi” and “Koreles” wander the streets of the center of the island on Saturday evening and in the morning of the last Sunday of Carnival. Their passing is rampant as the weight of the bells that they carry weighs more than 50 kilos. In clearings and glades they stop to take a breath. There the “Koreles” begin to sing their song while the “Geroi”, while leaning on their sticks, shake rhythmically their body, accompanying the song verses with the deafening sound of bells. On Sunday afternoon, the strongest of them, nicknamed “Leventogeroi”, dare to get uphill to the Castle that leads to the church of St. George, the patron and guardian of the island and shake their bells, a sign that the ritual reached its end and it's time to retire.