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athos mountain

Kalopedis family

The Kalopedis Family are renowned jewelers from Cyprus who specialty is traditional Greek Byzantine style Icons and Ecclesiastic art, found in Orthodox Churches. Stylianos Kalopedis started the business in 1888 which has been passed down from father to son for five generations. Their style showcases the many cultural influences, both ancient and modern, traditions in the making of fine jewellery.

Kalopedis Dynasty

  • Stylianos Kalopedis - (b. 1868 - d. 1936)
  • Giorgos Kalopedis I - (b. 1911 - d. 1984)
  • Michalakis Kalopedis I - (b. 1935)
  • Giorgos Kalopedis II - (b. 1958)
  • Michalis Kalopedis II - (b. 1980)

The establishment

Stylianos Kalopedis was born in 1868 at Lefkara, a mountain village in the island of Cyprus. He was the first to begin the family’s jewellery tradition. As a child he was sent to the capital city of Nicosia in order to work at an atelier in the famous "street of the goldsmiths" and learn the art of Jewellery making. When he was 20 years old his mentor told him that he had achieved a skill level with which he could open his own workshop. His mentor then provided him with one workbench and the essential work tools. The year was 1888 and the family tradition had then begun.

Stylianos at first had moved to the village of Vasa where he had met his wife and remained there for 15 years. When his family started growing he decided to move back to Nicosia. But a historical event in Cyprus took place in October 1931. There was an uprising of the Cypriot people against the British colonists. To protect his family Stylianos made the decision to move them back to his birthplace Lefkara. He wanted to ensure he could pass down his skills and knowledge of the art that he was practicing to his children so that they would continue the profession.

The workshop at Lefkara was established and the Kalopedis family began to work on two basic categories of Jewellery for which they are now famous for in Cyprus. The first category refers to the ecclesiastic art, such as icons, and other ecclesiastical instruments that are used in the Greek Orthodox Church. The family also was the first to introduce the two traditional Greek instruments "Kapnistiri" and "Mereha" to Cyprus, items which are used as sencers in traditional weddings and other ceremonies. These two are what the parents and the priests use to bless their children on their wedding day. These are decorated in the forms of fruits such as apples, peaches etc. The "Kapnistiri" has two parts, one to store olive leaves and small charcoals and the other is for the burning of charcoals and olive leaves, to produce the smoke for the blessing. The "Mereha' is what is used to hold perfume. The second category in which the family became specialized in was personal jewellery.

All the items at the beginning were made with silver. There was only one exception in the timeline of this tradition when for a small period of time due to the bad economic situations in Cyprus; copper was used in the place of silver. After the crisis passed the family returned to the use of silver for all ecclesiastic and other decorative items and gold was then also introduced for personal jewellery.

Giorgos Kalopedis I, the most profound of Stylianos’ sons in 1943 envisioned a more promising future in the town of Larnaca. In 1944 he left the village of Lefkara and moved to Larnaca, taking with him his family and his skills in order to continue the tradition of the family. Giorgos Kalopedis I, was a person who was distinct because of his personality. A smart business man, who was extremely hard working; Giorgos had dreams for the future and took the first steps in taking the business of the family outside the borders of Cyprus. In Larnaca Giorgos Kalopedis I, became an attraction for all the locals, visitors and tourists. He was known because he brought his art to the street. He loved working on a table that was placed on the pavement outside his store. People used to pass by and stand to watch his art in the making. The interest even attracted journalists from all over the world who saw the work of Giorgos Kalopedis I, as a true representation of the Cyprus culture.

Andreas kalopedis the brother of Michalakis Kalopedis I, was also one of the great artists in the family and has worked on icons such as the one of Mary in the church located in the village of Kiti, outside the town of Larnaca. Today Michalakis Kalopedis I, George Kalopedis II and Michael Kalopedis II represent the three generations that continue the tradition of the family.

Important Works

After moving to Larnaca the fame of the family began to grow further and people from all over Cyprus and from overseas were asking to have icons and other ecclesiastical instruments made for them. These were primarily intended as donations to churches. Some of the most important religious places for which the family has created pieces for are the monasteries of Athos Mountain in Greece, the monastery of Stavrovouni and the three Churches of Holy Mary at the village of Kivisili.

The silver cross that was made for the monastery of Staurovouni is one of the significant pieces ever made by the family since the monastery is one of the most hallowed places in the Christian faith. It is the monastery which according to a religious transition was founded by St. Helena, the mother of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine I, the Great. She had discovered the three crosses on which Jesus and the two thieves had been crucified on her visit to the Holy Land. On her way back to Constantinople, she left a piece of the Holy Cross of Jesus at this monastery. The jewellers of the family were asked to create a silver cross where in its center; the piece of the holy cross of Jesus was placed. The silver cross is decorated with hammering with an image representing the moment of the resurrection and other images and representations of saints and apostles.

In 1981 a silver icon for the church of Holy Mary at the village of Kivissili was made. The icon is one of the most elaborately decorated icons made by the Kalopedis family. There is also an interesting true story behind this icon. The icon was made to cover an already existing painting. The silver icon however does not cover the face of Mary and Jesus. These are left uncovered so that their iconographical image can be displayed. One day a Turkish man, one of the many that used to live in the village, had walked into this Greek Orthodox Church and stubbed the icon of Mary in the left eye. As a result the man permanently lost his vision. The mark is still visible today.

The most outstanding icons however made by the family, are the resent works for the church of St. Savvas at the village of Leivadia, outside the town of Larnaca.

External links

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