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ARGENTI, Philip P. The Costumes of Chios. Their Development from the XVth to the XXth Century, London, B.T. Batsford [1953].

Philip Argenti (1891-1974) was born in Marseilles, into an old Chiot family of Genoese descent. Son of benefactor Pantelis Argenti, who founded the Hospital and the School name after him, he studied Classics at Oxford and Law in Athens. Multilingual and energetic, he conducted research in various archives in Europe and wrote numerous important studies (mostly in English) on matters of folklore, history and bibliography of his home island Chios. In his investigation he drew also on travel accounts and acquired a large collection of engravings and images of Chios. Argenti served in various Greek embassies, was attaché to the Greek Embassy in London and was elected a Corresponding Member of the Academy of Athens. The Argenti Estate in Kampos, Chios, a now scheduled mansion with a large garden and orchard, is to this day one of the most impressive manors and a living monument of Chiot culture. In 1962 Philip Argenti donated to the Library of Chios over 10,000 volumes, including rare editions, scientific periodicals, maps and albums, as well as manuscripts and collections of photographs and paintings, relating to each and every aspect of Chiot culture from the fourteenth to the twentieth century. At the same time, he funded the renovation of the building and also founded both the Argenti Museum, with paintings belonging to his family, and the Folklore Museum of Chios.

This important and rare edition circulated in five hundred copies. It includes a well-documented and detailed study of male and female costumes, with drawings by Argenti and one hundred and eleven colour plates with engravings and drawings from travel chronicles. The initial general remarks on the textiles of the garments (linen, wool, cotton and silk) are followed by a description of jewellery, embroidery and male costumes. The section on female costumes elaborates on the variations of various garments as they appear in each of the island’s twenty villages. The Appendix to the edition provides statistical data as well as the synonyms for each item of the Chiot costumes. In addition, the extracts from travel works cited in the text are given in their original language of publication. Nearly all the paintings, engravings, watercolours and drawings come from the author’s personal collection. Argenti’s study demonstrates and highlights the importance of travel accounts as repositories of irreplaceable testimonies on the Greek world.

Written by Ioli Vingopoulou

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