Quilt No.1010MA - Maria Alexakis

Maria Alexakis
Owner: 
Maria Alexakis
Location: 
NSW Sydney
Maker
Maker: 
Unknown
Made in
GREECE Peloponnesus
Date: 
1941 - 1970
Description: 
Wholecloth quilt. Quilting pattern is a large 'feathered thistle' with thick stem, as the main design feature. The border is a combination of straight and curved parallel lines. Burgundy sateen with damask weave. All quilting is handstitched. Padding is cotton wadding and backing is tomato red cotton. 2150 x 1820 mm.
History: 

Quilt made for Eleni Kritikos in the village of Sikea, south Peloponnesus, Greece, by a local quilt maker, name unknown, in about 1949/50. Eleni gave it to her daughter Maria, who brought it to Australia in 1956. It is not used.

Story: 

"From Sikea to Sydney.
Maria Alexakis grew up in the village of Sikea, in the southern Peloponnesus area of mainland Greece. She was the youngest of the six children born to her parents, Pericles and Eleni Kritikos. The family's 'horafia' (fields) provided much of their food - wheat, figs and the all-important olives and olive oil.
In about 1949, Eleni decided that her eldest daughter Katerina, should have a traditional 'paploma' (quilt) for her 'prika' (dowry), in preparation for getting married. She probably went to the nearby village of Molai to purchase the lovely, burgundy-coloured sateen, with its damask weave, and the bright red cotton fabric for the quilt backing. The raw cotton used for the wadding came from Skala, another village close by, where relatives of the family grew cotton. This was all given to the local 'paplomatas' (quiltmaker) who made the quilt and hand-stitched the striking 'thistle' design.
In the meantime, arrangements were being made for Katerina's wedding, but the 'paploma', which Eleni had ordered, was not ready in time. So Katerina was given a different quilt, and Maria, the only other daughter, ended up with this one. It travelled to Australia in 1956, in Maria's 'baoulo' (trunk), along with other trousseau items, a beautiful, red-and-black wool rug (or blanket) which had been made from home-grown wool, dyed, then woven on the family's own 'argalio' (loom).
Maria had been engaged for about a year or so to Spiro Alexakis, also from Sikea. Soon after her arrival, they were married in Sydney's Aghia Sophia Greek Orthodox Church. The went on to have four children : Effy (Eftihia), Helen (Eleni), Loula (Theodora), Theo (Theodoros). Eleni and Spiro worked at various jobs until buying their own fish-shop in Padstow in 1967. As with the thousands of other post-war migrants, they worked hard to establish themselves and to provide a good education for the children - one is a well-known photographer, two are teachers and one a public servant. Sadly and unexpectedly, Spiro died in 1983. Maria stayed on until 1994 when she moved to the house she lives in today. Here she enjoys the comings and goings of the families, and in particular, her eleven grand children. Her 'paploma' is still in excellent condition. [Written by Lula Saunders; adapted from interview 1/8/01 for the National Quilt Register]

Maria Alexakis in the family olive grove, Greece, mid 1950's
Maria Alexakis in the family olive grove, Greece, mid 1950's
People of the village of Sikea early 1950's. Maria is 7th from right, Eleni is 3rd from right.
People of the village of Sikea early 1950's. Maria is 7th from right, Eleni is 3rd from right.

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