Even though we are experiencing a period of radical changes and readjustments, stability is observed, globally, in each country΄s cultural values, contributing in forming its identity and creating links with other nations.
The geographical position of Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean made the island a crossroad between East and West since the dawn of history. For this reason the island has gone through long periods of foreign conquests.
A necessary condition for the Cypriots to retain their national and cultural identity led to the predominance both in their character and their artistic expressions of a quality of conservativeness and sensitiveness. They had foreign influences and expressed them in their own way representing their own life.
Cypriot arts and crafts dating back to our ancient heritage have managed to retain their special character. In handicraft, man elaborates the material, marks on it his creative ability, and turns it to an object of artistic beauty and utility. The craft bears the signature of a specific craftsman, who is the agent of a specific tradition. Even when handicrafts are produced into small scale industries, they bear the personal touch and express the folk culture of the craftsman.
The main objective of the Cyprus Handicraft Service of the Ministry of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism is the preservation, promotion, production and marketing, as well as the technical, artistic and commercial development of Cypriot handicrafts.
The development programmes are well diversified and aim at the following:
- the study and research of traditional and modern folk art,
- the qualitative and aesthetic improvement of articles produced by private craftsmen,
- the design and creation of new products, based on tradition and adjusted to modern needs,
- providing guidance and technical assistance to craftsmen,
- training and retraining for those wishing to improve the standard of their work or learn a particular craft,
- the organisation and control of production in workshops, small private units, or in urban areas,
- the organisation of exhibitions promoting handicrafts both locally and abroad,
- cooperation with other government services and the participation in cultural and tourist activities.
The hub of these activities is the Handicraft Centre in Lefkosia (Nicosia), which serves as a house of workshops for greater traditional crafts such as embroidery, pottery, weaving, woodcarving, metalwork, basketry, leather work, garments and general handicrafts. The workshops are staffed by craftsmen specialised in a variety of fields, working under the guidance and supervision of experienced instructors. Their basic aim is the creation of new designs and items based on traditional motifs and techniques. The Handicraft Centre in Lefkosia has a permanent exhibition hall, where authentic traditional handicrafts are displayed together with contemporary ones, produced either at the Handicraft Service’s workshops or by artisans and private workshops. In the retail shop the visitor can find genuine handcrafted articles representing nearly all the island’s traditional crafts. Their superior quality and aesthetic value appeal to everyone. There are district centres in Lemesos and Pafos.
The promotion and commercial development of the handicrafts is another important activity of the Service. In this regard, it undertakes the initiative to promote them, locally and abroad. Any income from sales contributes to the development of the cottage and small scale industry.
The sale of genuine and high quality handicrafts, the participation in trade and cultural exhibitions in Cyprus and abroad, small scale exports, active publicity, promotional campaigns and other activities, allowed the Cyprus Handicraft Service to maintain, enhance and revive the traditional culture.
For further information:
Cyprus Handicraft Service
186 Athalassa Avenue, 2025 Nicosia