Crafts in Stemnitsa

The Stemnitsians were renowned craftsmen, especially from the 17th century to the ear1y 20th century and distinguished themse1ves ιν the working of meta1s, using the cheapest to the most precious.
The resu1t was that Stemnitsa became famous thanks to its coppersmiths, brass-smiths and especially its goldsmiths.
These craftsmen had their permanent workshops ίn Stemnitsa but were also itinerant. They travelled for most of the year and went farther than even the boundaries of Arcadia or the Peloponnese. They went from the Ionian isles to Constantinople and from Egypt and Cyprus to the Danube.

These trips were made by organized groups of craftsmen, called «kompanies» or «bouloukia» and lasted for a few or many months. However, there were also craftsmen who made very short trips just to cover temporary needs.
The craftsmen in each field, in order to protect their rights, organized themselves from as early as Byzantine times into guilds, which were later called «isnafia» or «synafia».

There were guilds of goldsmiths, coppersmiths, stonemasons and even bakers and tailors and others. Each guild had its own patron saint and its own hierarchy. in order to protect its secrets, large and small, each guild would create its own special coded language, which it used chiefly on trips. The stonemasons had «koudaritika», there was «dortika» and «kosmitika» used by the comb-makers of Kosmas and many others.

The craftsmen’s tongue of Stemnitsa, «stemnitsiotika» or rather «mestitsiotika» as was its code name, is one of the oldest of its kind and is anagrammatic. An epigrammatic phrase, known to every Stemnitsian craftsman, is «simo ke simo». It refers to craftsmen who, during the years of Turkish rule, made lamps for a church with adulterated silver. The church council was naturally not satisfied with the «silver» lamps and forced the craftsman to swear in front of an icon that they were pure silver. So the Stemnitsian goldsmith made the oath, saying: « … the lamps Ι made were half and half («simo ke simo») which his accusers took to mean «silver through and through». This misunderstanding revolves around the words «miso» (half), the anagram of which is «simo» – and asimi» (silver).