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Postcard from Pirgi on TravelSnapz

Geometrics in Pirgi

It's called Ksistá .
A decorative geometric pattern that covers the houses, and other buildings, in Pirgi.

Pirgi - covered in ksistá.

Pirgi is one of the mastic villages in the south of Chios, a Greek island just off the western coast of Turkey.

Chios is spelt in various ways including Hios and Xios. The island is steeped in history and has largely resisted the tourist push, perhaps because it is one of the more far flung islands of Greece.

The island is famous for its mastic production.

The mastic bush is a stunted tree that produces an aromatic gum.

This resin has been in much demand for centuries.

The substance has formed the base of paints, cosmetics, and not the least the chewable jelly beans that were popular in the Turkish harems. Now mastic is a bit of a novelty, its value lessened by manufactured alternatives, so the monopoly that was originally established by the Genoese in the 14th century, is no longer of great value.

Mastic is still manufactured on the island and the process is much the same as it has been for centuries. The resin is scraped off the bark of the tree by local villagers who separate out the leaves and twigs. It then goes to a central processing plant where it is washed and baked. Around 150 tons are produced each year and France, Bulgaria and Saudi Arabia are the main buyers.

The mastic village of Pirgi is made all the more unique because of the ksistá on the buildings.

When you walk into the village it almost demands a double-take, the black and whiteness of it all is weird.

The ksistá is formed by cutting geometric patterns into the plaster that covers the outside of the buildings, and then these shapes are outlined in paint.

On your travels through Turkey and Greece, you may see the occasional house decorated in ksistá - but Pirgi is the mother village that dispenses ksistá to the world.

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