Inscribed in lower right recto: In my mothers house 901
The small watercolour depicts a typical Cypriot urban house. Five arches in the Cypriot architectural manner represent an amalgamation of the Byzantine and Gothic arch. The roof is typically made of beams supporting thick matting, while creating a covered verandah leading towards an interior courtyard. The latter is decorated with the local flora, potted geraniums, silver-coloured olive tree, a young palm tree and hanging flowers. Cypriot-style ironmongery work protects the ground floor windows, a wooden balcony projects from the rear wall while the servant, a black girl in Cypriot attire, is carrying out her chores. Slaves were imported into Cyprus from mainly Africa and were sold at the Cypriot ports locally and to the rest of the Ottoman dominions. This went on until the arrival of the British in 1878, although derogatory reports concerning slaves were sent by European Consuls in Larnaca to their respective countries throughout the nineteenth century. The young black girl portrayed is probably a descendant of the imported slaves. Even today, such descendants can be found within the two main communities of Cyprus. She is wearing plain clothing commonly worn by the labouring classes on the island. It was a simpler version of the old traditional costume of the island, consisting of pantaloons to the ankles, and a long robe cum dress on top. The head is covered by a typical headscarf, the waist accentuated by a belt and, as usual, the skirt is gathered on one side upwards, a gesture indicating work or a heavy load. In this case, a clay water pot acts as the heavy load sitting on the right shoulder of this servant girl. The image of the black servant girl acts as a reminder that their emancipation had not been complete despite changes brought about in Cypriot law by the British. It rather points to their relocation as protégé workers in local estates.
14 x 19 cm
Courtyard of a Cypriot house
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