Tsaeres tonenes (Wooden chairs)
While enjoying your Cyprus coffee in a traditional kafeneio or your meze in a tavern, you will definitely notice the traditional handmade wooden chairs, a distinctive feature of places that cherish and preserve traditional furniture.
The making of tsaeres tonenes goes back in time when everything was hand crafted, and precious craftsmanship skills and knowledge were passed down from generation to generation. Nowadays, only a handful of chair makers can be found on the island, and the profession is under extinction as a result of modern and industrialized production methods.
The adjective attributed to the chairs “tonenes” refers to Tonos, an ancient Greek word that we still use in Cyprus meaning rope (in fact, it means a special rope for beds). Tonos is made of long strips of tree bark braided together to form a rope, or a rope braided with burlap or other plants.
There are two types of wooden chairs: one type has curved legs, while the other has rectangular legs. Tsaeres tonenes were made from oak wood, or Platanos tree (Platanus Orientallis), or Antrouklia, a native tree also known as strawberry tree (Arbutus Andrachne), or Pernia (Quercus Coccifera) or Latzia, an endemic oak tree (Quercus alnifolia). Chair makers would often need to scout for days in the forest before choosing a suitable tree. They would then cut it down and leave it for several months to dry out before starting to work on it.
The sitting part of the chair is made of “floudi”, a kind of weed collected from areas close to water bodies and streams. The knitting of the chair requires the artistic creativity of the craftsman; hence every chair is unique made with great pride.
In the absence of modern machinery, tsaeres tonenes are made by hand and a few old-style tools, such as an adze and drill bits. Surprisingly, not a single nail was used to make the chair. All parts were secured together with wooden pegs. The art of handmade chairs requires skill, patience, know-how, love and passion.
Thanks to the quality natural materials used, tsaeres tonenes are environmentally friendly, comfortable and they last for a lifetime.