The Mission team encourages the people of Crete to take up the thread of this ancient, divine art, as an element that connects and reconciles people with themselves, with nature and with other people, not only in Crete but all over the world.
The philosophy of the Penelope Gandhi Mission is not simply an attempt to revive an abandoned, dying art. Our aim is to re-evaluate the sacred art of Weaving, to highlight its place in every dimension of human existence, and to return it to the modern creative and productive field, while the servants of the weaver's art are still alive to teach its wonderful secrets.
The name Penelope Gandhi
Penelope is the greatest weaver of antiquity, who lived her entire life (at least according to Homer) through a loom.
Through the loom she showed her devotion, her love and her multifaceted, ingenious thoughts. On the loom she unfolded her actions and emotions, waiting patiently for Odysseus' return.
Mahatma Gandhi was chosen because the great Indian's love for and personal engagement with Weaving was a social stance against homogeneity and alienation from cloth, the first material that is wrapped around us.
Gandhi brings us from Penelope to the modern age and the victory of non-violent resistance over violence. Through his insistence on making his own clothing, he turned the art of spinning and the image of himself as a spinner of thread into a symbol of Indian resistance to British rule, which, by means of industrialisation and the procurement of cotton, degraded, oppressed and humiliated India.
The team of the Penelope Gandhi Mission consists of women weavers and people familiar with the culture of the Cretan Loom, together with many volunteers.
We are backed by internationally acclaimed representatives of the arts and sciences. Our invaluable supporters include Greek university professors and well-known academics from Europe and America, and major figures in the field of folk experience and knowledge. Supporting institutions are the University of Crete, the Schools of Architecture and Agriculture of the Technological Educational Institute of Crete, all the Municipalities and Schools of Crete, the Hellenic Folklore Research Centre of the Academy of Athens, the Benaki Museum, the Heraklion Archaeological Museum and the European School of Heraklion.
We are associated with and work with women acclaimed for their scientific and social work from Palestine, Iran and India.
The Mission is inspired and coordinated by Mrs Barbara Terzaki - Pallikari.
The University of the Mountains
The Penelope Gandhi Mission is one of the projects of the University of the Mountains, an official member of the Mountain Partnership of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation.
The University of the Mountains is a voluntary, non-subsidised charity set up in Crete in 2007 by Professor of Ophthalmology Ioannis Pallikaris, academics of the University of Crete and major foreign universities, intellectuals, artisans, shepherds, farmers and folk craftsmen of rural Cretan rural, with the aim of preserving and studying the way of life of mountain communities.
It is a way of life that as a whole, as social expression and daily life, obeys the age-old relationship between nature and people, social relationships and ways of gaining one's living, through the revival of natural sources of wealth, discouraging the abandonment of villages, non-exhaustion of natural riches, striking a balance between water, wildlife, forests, animals and birds, and developing a small-scale, high-value economy.
Heraklion Archaeological Museum
“Ariadne's Thread and Penelope's Loom”
This exhibition is a step towards diachronicity.
The Heraklion Archaeological Museum, the largest museum of Minoan civilisation in Greece and, indeed, the world, not only showcases the various aspects of Minoan life and art but also holds a prominent position in the international history of weaving. Minoan textiles present amazingly complex decoration, with geometrical shapes and motifs mainly drawn from the natural world.
In the Heraklion Archaeological Museum are preserved the traces of two important arts: spinning yarn with a spindle and weaving on the loom.
With the scientific assistance of the excellent Museum archaeologists, we have built a model of an ancient loom. The women weavers of Crete are using it, 5,000 years later, to weave ancient textiles and cloth once more, using the same technique and natural yarns and plant dyes to reconstruct and recreate the ancient weaving art depicted on Minoan vases.
Using this information, combined with Linear B sources and ancient texts, we have attempted to name the parts of the ancient loom and understand both how it works and the technical choices it offers.