Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

You can take a trac­tor with a cun­ning me­chan­i­cal de­vice on the back which makes holes, and plants vine cut­tings in them and ti­dies up af­ter it­self, in which case you can plant a large vine­yard in an hour or two; or you can do it by hand (and foot) with a two pronged piece of a tree with a sharp­ened end (we Brits called it a “Dib­ber” but the Greek for it is “Scala”). The sec­ond was the way it used to be done in Cyprus – the whole fam­ily and prob­a­bly most of the vil­lage turned out for what amounted to a cer­e­mony.

The black and white pic­ture was prob­a­bly taken early in the 20th cen­tury. The colos­sal im­ple­ment would have had to be po­si­tioned solely by arm-power, a very tir­ing process, whereas in the other, later, photo it is a foot job.

The guy with the big dib­ber makes the hole in the tilled soil and shouts “NERO!” (“WA­TER”), where­upon some­one else (when­ever we saw a plant­ing this was al­ways a job for women) comes and pours wa­ter in the hole. This per­son then shouts “AMBELI” (“VINE”), when a third then pops a rooted cut­ting into the hole and cov­ers it with earth.

We’d only been liv­ing in Cyprus for about a week, when, in Fe­bru­ary 1991, Ni­co­las, the vil­lage Mukhtar’s brother and es­timable stone-ma­son, popped in one morn­ing and asked us if we would like to help him, his fam­ily and friends plant a new vine­yard.

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