Tsandiri Christina | Ikaria | Biographical data
• Place of birth

Armenistis, Ikaria
• Year of birth

• Short biography

Christina Tsandiri is an amateur singer, living and working in Armenistis, Ikaria. On her origins and her family’s commercial activities, she says: «[We come] From Armenistis. But we were in Aghios Dimitris before that. My parents have a house there […], they had a house and we were born there […]. Before, you know, before the war in 1940 and earlier, before 1930, since 1925, ships began to come here [to Armenistis], boats […] and they were all loaded…[…], trawlers, […], they used to carry coal, too. People here made coal […], they would load it and take it to Syros, which was a major centre of Greece at the time […]. [They also carried] walnuts, almonds, raisins […]. Whole mountains of raisins. Down there […], in that shop down there they would pick them up with shovels and put them in sacks […]. Raisins, yes. And other things, and almonds […] […]. It was a General Store […]. [The products used to go to] Chios, Syros, I can’t remember […] Mykonos, Piraeus. I can’t remember if the ships went there, at the time […]. In the shop, with my mother […], we had those barrels, big wooden barrels, in which they brought the wine, whole gallons of it […]. And they poured the wine. We served it on tap. I served the customers, who were sailors, captains […]. There were no luxuries then, or nothing. There were salted sardines to eat and a few bits that my mother might cook».

On her family’s financial-working relationship with the coast of Asia Minor across the water, she says: «[…] but I was a refugee too […]. We were in the East, too […]. We [my mother and my siblings] were here. [My] father left [on his own] and went East with some people – he got some peasants together [as workers] – and went there, rented, even bought land, with olive trees, wild olives […]. So they cleaned them up, they made coal and brought it here, to the islands […]. And then he took us as well. They took us and we left, with my mother. Mother took us. I was 8 years old, 7 years old […]. And my mother traded there».

They returned to Ikaria in 1922, following the Destruction of Asia Minor: «Of course. This was our home. We came on the boat and my mother took us out here».

She got married during the 40s: «I got married in 1944 and we lived here. My old house, my father’s house, was that one there, across the road […]. Later, my husband and I ran the General Store in town, with food, textiles […] after 1940 when people were destitute here. The Italians and the Germans took everything. Even our goats and chickens […]. They would say, well, you don’t need more than one».

Regarding the local festivals, and the music played there, she said:: «Well, up in Raches, in the villages […]. I don’t remember a festival here before». On the music they used to play in the festivals, she comments: «At the time they had, there was the Kariotikos, the Kalamatianos, the syrtos of Chios, as they used to call it, what did they call it? There was the syrtos, then the kalamatianos, and the Kariotikos. There were also those European ones, there was what we called boska, danced by couples».

These days, the musician in her family is her son, Leonidas Tsandiris [violin], who lives in America. He visits the island frequently, and takes part in musical events.

Translator’s Note: Kariotikos – traditional dance of Ikaria; kalamatianos and syrtos – traditional Greek dances.