[photographic representation in the Monastery of Aghios Nikolaos, Metsovo]
The shepherd’s cape, called a “tampare”, is made of goat wool and is thick enough to be waterproof. Despite being only knee-length, it hangs around the body to stop the rain from reaching the legs. Sleeves are sewn on to the cape and have wide armholes. There is also a cone-shaped hood.
Telegram to the General Inspectorate of the Vilayets of Rumeli, April 25, 1906.
From November to May, the men of Metsovo moved their flocks to the lowlands of Trikala or Ioannina. This choice was largely determined by the climate: snow on the mountains in winter and high temperatures on the plains in summer.
The annexation of Thessaly by Greece in 1881 created a border between the summer and winter plains used by Metsovo’s livestock farmers. Moreover, Metsovo was especially vulnerable to raids by thieves from Greece.
Nevertheless, in 1900, sheep breeding was still important to the population of Metsovo. In his telegram to the High Porte (General Inspectorate of the Vilayets of Rumeli), the economic inspector of Ioannina records that in 1906 there were 1,587,153 sheep in the kaza of Metsovo.
“The sheep of the kaza of Metsovo that came back from Greece will be counted in May. (…) This year, at the initial sheep counting, one million five hundred and eighty seven thousand one hundred and fifty three [1,587,153] sheep were recorded, corresponding to a sheep tax (ağnam rüsûmu) of six million three hundred and forty eight thousand six hundred and twelve [6.348,612] copper coins (guruş).”
Caravan of nomadic livestock farmers travelling from the plains to the mountains.
Livestock farmers weighing wool. (Foundation of the Museum for the Macedonian Struggle)
The area surrounding Metsovo is mountainous, but the village itself is close to the Politses (Politsouare) plateau, which is still the main pasture used by livestock farmers in the area. The name Politses is possibly derived from the Latin word Policia and may be related to a Roman military guard that settled in the area.
Today, much of the plateau is covered by water after the Public Power Corporation built a hydroelectric dam there in 1987. The artificial lake that was created collects the waters of the Aoos River springs as well as the water from the Politses plateau..
Men with dogs between Ioannina and Preveza. (Fred Boissonnas, Thessaloniki Museum of Photography #20770)
Like the villagers and shepherds from many regions of continental Greece and the islands, the Metsovites manufactured and wore shoes made from raw pig skin, called “gourounotsarouha”. These shoes were light and comfortable for walking on uneven ground.