Tag Search

Type a search term

Advanced Search


Chios is situated opposite the great natural gulf of Smyrna in Asia Minor, and on the maritime route from the Dardanelles to Rhodes and Alexandria. It was under Genoese rule until 1571 and then came under Ottoman rule. From the 16th to the 20th century several travellers stopped over or stayed on the island and handed down important texts and illustrations.

The mastic, rare product of the Pistacia lentiscus shrub, which, although found all over the Mediterranean, is able to produce the characteristic masticha resin only in Chios, and the beauty and refinement of the women, with their highly elaborate costumes, were among the unique features highlighted and depicted by foreign visitors.

Chios becomes an object of scholarly study and geography together with the other Greek islands with “Liber Insularum Archipelagi” a pioneering chartographic early 15th century manuscript by Cr. Buondelmonti. Buondelmonti’s work established a model for the isolaria which followed, such as those by B. dalli Sonetti (1485) and Β. Bordone (1547). Sonetti couples his maps wtih sonnets while Bordone notes information on the myths and history of the islands on his idiosyncratic maps.Towards the end of the 16th century, Chios appears in G.Fr. Camocio’s isolario, a pioneering work for its era, which influenced later isolaria such as G. Rosaccio's (1598) and lent its illustrations to pilgrim chronicles (H. Beauvau, 1615).

In 1572 T. Porcacchi published a very successful isolario, (here the edition of 1620) in which he employed the novel technique of copper engraving. This technique permitted the creation of more detailed and accurate images and a greater concentration of information; it gradually became the technique of choice for all illustrated works, until the early 19th century, when progressively lithography became the most popular technique.  In Μ. Boschini edition, a small beautiful sample of Venetian engraving of the mid-17th century, the maps of Chios and other islands are accompanied by an explanatory text with historical and geographical information. The work by J. Lauremberg (1660) includes excellent engravings of maps of ancient Greece. The maps are accompanied by historical and geographical explanatory texts, which testify to the author's deep erudition.The isolario of Fr. Piacenza (1688) includes superbly engraved maps and a wealth of material on the Aegean islands, Cyprus and the Peloponnese.

Maps of Chios are found in several works: In the re-edition of O.G. Busbecq's account, which was first published and knew great success in the 16th century (1664); in the work by scholar and engraver J. Sandrart, whose maps are imitations of an earlier, similar work, and in J. Roux's book (1804), which charts the main anchorages of the area. The editions by J. Enderlin include copies of engravings found in earlier or nearly contemporary popular works. (1686). The edition in question is embellished with two plates, of uncommon subjects for the time (a mastic tree and antiquities).The plates in the work by J. Sandrart (1687) show castles and other location, in their majority under Ottoman rule. Several similar works which highlight the victories of the Venetians against the Ottomans in the Sixth Ottoman-Venetian War (1684-1699) were released during the same period. The editions by J. Peeters in the late 17th century (1686 and 1690) also exalt the victories of the Holy League in the Ottoman-Venetian wars. The plates show cities, ports and other locations in Austria, Southeastern Europe, the eastern Mediterranean and places in Asia all the way to India and Saudi Arabia.

The interesting editon titled Descrittione… di Scio (1694) which was published when the Venetians conquered Chios (1694 -1695) includes a view of Chios, which however is a copy of an engraving already published in earlier editions.

The drawings which accompany B. de Monconys' text (1665-66) constitute a corpus of material unique in travel literature. They include distillation instruments, chemistry experiments, hydraulic devices, hydrometers, architectural drawings, depictions of meteorological phenomena, plans, human types, astronomical instruments etc. The plate related to Chios shows a church on the island.

J. Seller was the creator of the first detailed mapping of the Mediterranean coast, titled “English Pilot...” . First published in the 17th century, it was repeatedly reissued and continued to be used down to the 19th century (here in the 1771 edition). Seller's works established the use of the English language in maritime charts and greatly influenced later cartographic editions. It includes maps of the local shores.

Views of the port and other major locations of Chios are found in travel accounts already in the 16th century. Unique and remarkable among them are the hand-drawn sketches in the travel journal by J. Maurand (1544), including the drawing of the port.

The first realistic depiction of Chios is found in the account by C. Le Bruyn, who illustrated his work with exquisite original engravings (1714). The work by R. Pococke includes a view of the location known as “Daskalopetra”. The same subject and others, such as the fountain in the town of Chios, and the garden with the noria well in Kambos, illlustrate the monumental work by M.G.F.A. Choiseul-Gouffier, which expressed the love of antiquity and the philhellenism of its time in a new and original fashion, establishing at the same time (around the late 18th and early 19th century) the primacy of image, or graphic representation, in travel chronicles. In the rare album of drawings in sepia kept at the Gennadius Library (Album of 18 original drawings in sepia, c. 1800), the artist conveys the overall sensation of the landscape with intensity, at the cost of details of each monument

In the 19th century the eastern Mediterranean is the main destination of western Europeans, who embark on the Grand Tour, an experience which aids the acquisition of knowledge and also serves as sign of social status; at the same time, technologies of transportation continue to evolve and make travel easier. Chios is steadily represented in travel works, either as main destination or as part of a wider landscape (Chr. Wordsworth in 1882,  J.H. Allan in 1843). The photographs of the brothers Castania from Izmir (1881) reveal the devastation caused to Chora and the southern villages of the island by the earthquake of 1881. The Album of 1984 includes rare and very interesting wood engravings taken from the  pioneering weekly review “The Illustrated London News” (1842-1885) and the similarly themed magazine “The Graphic” (1869-1885). The plates depict locations, people and events (political, social and military), from 1842 to 1885.

A table with coins from the island is included in “Archipel” by Ol. Dapper (1688), while a rare ancient relief is found in the editions of the Dilettante society (1769). Other antiquities of Chios were published in the work by R. Pococke (1745).

Women from Chios have been a popular subject of illustration from the 16th century onwards. The work by N. De Nicolay (1580), the first travel account with human types of the Ottoman empire, includes two plates with the costumes of a young and an older woman from Chios. These female figures were copied and reprinted with variations in similar editions down to the 18th century (Ol. Dapper,Archipel” in 1688). G. De La Chapelle (1648?) created remarkable depictions of women of the East, set against the background of well-known sightsand monuments of Istanbul. The edition includes a plate of afemale costume from Chios island. Women from Chios and their costumes also form part of the work by J. Pitton de Tournefort (1717), which redefined travellers' itineraries and constituted a landmark in travel literature thanks to its text and illustrations. The album by Jean-Baptiste Van Mour (1714) shows another female costume from Chios, which was copied and inspired illustrations of several later works (Calvert, 1769). Harmonious with his text, the drawings by French traveller A.L. Castellan accompany his gentle discourse. Published in an elegant, small-format editon which came out in multiple volumes, they convey a unique perspective and present rare and original subjects (1812). 

In the same period, plates with female costumes and impressive headwear from Chios are included in the works by C. De Bruyn (1714) and A. De La Mottraye (1722) , while in the early 19th century illustrations of female costumes form part of the works by G.A. Olivier (1801) and J.L.S. Bartholdy (1807), as well as the Album by O.M. von Stackelberg (1828), which constitues an excellent work of art thanks to its aesthetics and execution. The French cartoonist H.L. Avelot (1899) made original sketches of people and scenes of everyday life, and created highly innovative material which pushed other artists to create similar illustrations inspired from their travels. A rare and unique drawing by W. Gell, showing a mansion, possibly at Kambos, Chios, illustrates the work of  J. Auldjo (1835).

 A male costume can be found in the work by C. Deval (1827). Philip Argenti's work on Chios costumes (1953) is the most exhaustive work on the subject, as it concentrates a wealth of graphic materials, mainly coming from travel accounts.

Finally, the edition by Fr. Perilla (1928), which is exclusively dedicated to Chios, has drawings, engravings, water colours and photographs by the author, which show nearly all the sights, monuments, and landscapes of the island.

Written by Ioli Vingopoulou