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Tinos: 12 Dovecotes

From the book "Tinos: 12 Dovecotes" (Drawings by the Greek painter Joseph B. Chatzipavlis), Philippotis Editions

The Aegean Sea, the Cycladic Islands and Tinos; a universe, an environment, a unity all the way since its geological cradle to the nowadays motion of the sea, vibrating through millions of little mirrors. Each mirror is an image which has been reflected in the water and survived unchanged in the unfading glimmer of the sea. The sunlight is unmercifully strong; but the mythical Voreas’s sons, Zites and Calaïs, release the wind from the top of Mount Tsiknias. The landscape, stationary but not at all submissive, passive or yielding contributes its Stone! Stone, Sun and Wind; components of a triad in unison.

In this environment the seeds of Tinian people took root and flourished. Beaten by the waves and the wind, parched but also enlightened by the sun they stand on their stone, the mother of all. The inhabitants of Tinos discover that stone bears the soil and it, in turn, bears the seed which will live for months and years to come.

Likewise they discover that this stone is host to minute quantities of water which manage to penetrate its surface. It is the same stone that emerges from the depths of the ocean, claiming its right to emerge from the depths untouched, unaltered, arrogant and yet patient. The people of Tinos work on the stone because they have no other material. This stone, schist, is plentiful and provides them with all they need. They always build their houses and cover the roofs with slate. Fireplaces, as well, are always constructed with slate. Stone and imagination cooperate harmoniously to erect the chimneys. The same stone is used to complete easy as well as complicated tasks, such as collecting the all-precious water, vital for their existence.

It is the same stone that has been patiently and consistently collected over the centuries to make stone fences and build the terraces which have protected land and seed alike from vanishing into the Aegean Sea, carried away by sudden winter thunder storms. Taking advantage of the very shape of the stones, they build them like an exquisite jigsaw puzzle, using no plaster or cement to bind them together. They are the builders! However, whenever they want to form stone to their inspiration, they use marble. Then, they become artists; they are called Halepas, Philippotis or Sochos, or they are called after the names of these inspired Tinian marble carvers who go on producing masterpieces today.

When pigeon raising appeared on the island with the arrival of the Venetians, the craftsmen of Tinos were ready. They learned that pigeons produce the best fertilizer and that they disperse it themselves as well! They could also hear of how tasty was the meat of their young ones. The right to raise pigeons was reserved to the Venetian nobles, together with the confiscated Tinian land! When the Venetians left the island, the people of Tinos reclaimed their land and raised the pigeons for themselves. And as their relation with the stone was never forgotten, they bestowed the same art with which they built houses, chapels, shrines, windmills, small bridges and fountains, also on the hundreds of dovecotes that dot the land. They are built, carved, decorated and stone-embroidered in the one and only way that artistry and history demand. And, when they are not left in the natural brown tones of the stone, they can only be given the white color of sea foam, of cleanliness, of the noble sun and of the innocence of human creativity.

The dovecotes of Tinos have been at the center of a vast artistic interest; described, sung, painted or photographed more than anything else on the island. What could another album offer? Well, simply put, you can never have too much of a good thing! Bringing joy to the eye and peace to the soul, our friend Joseph Chatzipavlis, using his well-known skills and creative imagination, presents us with a series of twelve exquisite drawings. Acknowledging that the dovecotes are the fruit of the union between man and stone in their ancestral triadic and monadic relationship, he realizes that the essence of the pigeon houses can be seen both reflected in and bathed by the bright sun, caressed and sometimes confronted by the wind, standing steadfastly in perfect unity with nature. They are both cheerful and imposing, ancient and alive; properties that justify the artist’s choice of technique and means. It is this relationship I think the artist wishes to stress, which, my friend Joseph, you so wonderfully achieve to manifest.

Text in Greek by: George K. Stournaras, Professor of Geology at the University of Athens, March 1996 
Translated by:     Sharon Turner, Windmills Travel Tinos Branch


Caressing a Dovecote with the eye, there is so much to be taught!

Click on any of the pictures to enlarge.


The light was terrified when asked to love the dovecotes. It should offer them the kindest caressing touch, so as not to frighten them...

The dovecote rises proudly in the Tinian countryside which gives out a scent of miracles.

One has to be strong to stand all this Beauty.

The Geometry of the Senses should never be taken lightly!

Time goes on, but the dovecote stands out there, proud to stare at the Tinian countryside and remember...

The dovecote is shouting to you: walk away quickly, if you are unable to dream...

Where you have reached, unknown Tinian artisan, is not a short way...

Caressing the dovecote with the eye, there is so much to be taught...

Let me talk to you and sing you to sleep with my songs of the wind. I have so many things to say to you!

Here is the unknown Tinian artisan, the one who dared touch perfection... a piece of the sky!

Naive and traditional equilibrium in the ecstasy of creation

The dovecote loves to play with the light and the shadow; he dares, because he knows.
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