Wednesday, June 03, 2015
THE LAND THAT worshiped WOMEN
"Lying at the joining point of three colossal continents – Asia, Africa and Europe – the tiny island of Crete is often labeled the Cradle of European Civilization. The Cretan Minoans, arguably the architects of Europe's first civilization, were cut down in their prime in 1450 BC by Mycenaean invaders – but if they hadn’t been, some say that by the time of Christ they'd have landed a man on the moon. After their technological skills, the Minoans are best known for their bare-breasted women and their bull leaping — a sport so dangerous modern bull fighters say it can't even be done.
"From the air, Crete looks like a man floating lazily on his back in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Today on Crete, East rubs shoulders with West on a daily basis. Round-domed Muslim mosques mix with Greek Orthodox churches, and markets mimic Turkish bazaars. Medieval streets shrouded in shade wind through towns like loose ribbons, and the oldest streets are so narrow a person can stand in their middles and almost touch the the sides of the buildings teetering at their edges. Outside its cities, Crete is a rugged, barren mountain chain snaking across the spine of the island, honeycombed with caves and wild, cavernous gorges. Sharp-eyed tourists might catch a glimpse of the rare Cretan wildcat, or the shy Kri Kri, the Cretan wild mountain goat.
"From 1450 BC on, when the Mycenaeans crushed the Minoans, Crete has been a land of resistance fighters. Its traditional male dress, therefore, should come as no surprise: black bloomers, black military boots, and daggers stashed in zounari — crimson waist sashes twenty-six feet in length. The black symbolizes Cretan respect for those who died trying to defend the island against 3000 years of conquering Mycenaeans, Dorians, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, Turks, and, finally, in World War One, Germans.