Made in Cyprus: Gifts with Meaning and Soul
The short list of the souvenirs brought back from Cyprus is normally made up by halloumi, olive oil, Lefkara Lace, nuts and carob products. Their authenticity, traditionality and character make them a fine choice. These options are also tasty, healthy and for sure more ethical and impressive than all those endless magnets made in China. However, if you don’t subscribe to the classic souvenir concept, and your friends and family still have loads of halloumi from your last trip to the island, there is plenty of alternative modern gifts which are not only a pleasure for the eye from the design point of view, but will definitely come in handy and serve for years. We have picked up a few creations of Cypriot designers and craftsmen, each breathing with the spirit of the island and would make a great gift for friends, family and yourself.
The sea, the sun and beaches are imprinted into the Cypriot soul and it must be these treasures that make this country’s people so happy and carefree. You too can take with you some of pure joy of the active beach holiday and reckless fun — in the shape of two beach tennis paddles and a ball made by Cypriot brand ACEPLAYMORE.
This popular beach game also known as frescoball or matkot does not require any special training, net, table or even a lot of space. There are no winners or losers, the players’ common goal is to keep the ball in the air as long as possible. Healthy blood circulation and great mood is guaranteed.
ACEPLAYMORE have designed several series of paddles for various levels and playing styles. They have also thought about the smallest frescoballers. All paddles are handmade, equipped with professional grips and what is more they are a true delight for the eye. Bright and stylish colour combinations, clean patterns and a branded canvas bag completing the set — these paddles shout to be picked up and rushed into the fun game. Take them wherever you go — the sunny spirit of Cyprus is to stay with you.
Aphrodite and Co
Aphrodite is the Cypriot chief goddess. She is not only the patron of love and beauty, but also fertility, eternal spring and youth, marriage and birth, passion and delight, in other words, life itself. The legend has Cyprus as her birthplace. Emerged from the sea foam to the picturesque shore of Petra tou Romiou near Paphos Aphrodite is also worshiped as a sea goddess.
This beauty born from the foam became the main inspiration for a Cypriot jewellery and ceramics brand Sister. Its concept and goal is simple and noble — using folk, mythological and Christian subjects in the context of today to not only breathe new life into well-known cultural symbols (and thus save them from turning into clichés), but also financially support traditional crafts which used to strive on the island, but now going through hard times.
There are gold plated silver pendants, earrings and necklaces with the image of miniature Aphrodite statue, the Idol of Pomos (an ancient Neolithic sculpture of a woman symbolising fertility, found in Pomos, a Cypriot village near Paphos. It’s been also pictured on one- and two-euro coins since 2008), Virgin with the Child, St Christopher patron saint of travellers, St George defeating the dragon (symbolising the victory of good over evil) as well as pomegranate, Evil Eye and other regional symbols.
Everything is handcrafted by two brothers in their family workshop in Lefkara operating since 1968. Furthermore, as a platform for other designers and craftspeople working in Cyprus and Greece Sister offers something new and interesting all the time.
Keeping Traditions Alive
Tradition Now is another project supporting traditional Cypriot crafts and craftsmen and women. Its speciality is textile, ceramics, items made of straw — produced almost in the same way as hundreds of years ago.
Currently one can order dresses and tops of simple cut made of linen and decorated with embroidery by Nina from Lefkara, clay bowls and vases by craftsmen from the village of Kornos, baskets and woven straw mats from the village of Kapouti (now Turkish-occupied territory of the Republic of Cyprus). The weaving method of the latter together with Lefkaritika are on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Our choice is decorative pillowcases made of canvas, woven on an over 150-year-old loom. Master craftswoman Hambou from the village of Liopetri is one of the last weavers on the island who has mastered the craft perfectly. Whilst working she composes witty tsiatistas. Her range includes mats, donkey covers, bags, aprons, tablecloths and children’s blankets. Her pillowcases were specially created for and in collaboration with the Tradition Now project. Their bright contrast stripes and geometrical patterns are typical for the east coast of Cyprus. They will add dynamics and an instant uplift to any interior, and the robust natural fabric made of cotton and wool will age beautifully and reveal new details and texture.
For Children Only the Best
Gifts for children are always the most generous, but it is even more important for them to be full of magic and care. Wooden toy animals The Lions Tigers & Bears fall exactly in this category.
These toys/interior décor objects/art pieces resulted from one of the projects of the Cypriot multidisciplinary artist Opsis. His paintings, illustrations, murals, sculptures and installations all have Cyprus and the sea as their main theme in one way or another. Opsis uses recycled materials such as driftwood in his latest works. One can see his street art works in Cyprus, England and Portugal. As for the toys, they are absolutely safe for children, handmade of beech, painted with non-toxic paints and covered with natural bee wax. Everything from the first sketch to the final coat is made by the artist himself.
There are whales, giraffes, snakes, rhinoceroses, tigers, bears, lions, foxes, wolves, leopards, bisons and other popular animals in the collection. Standing out among all these is the Cypriot moufflon — one of the national symbols of the country. This ram with crescent shaped horns only lives on the island. Active hunting in the beginning of the last century nearly brought this species to extinction. Now the moufflons are safe and live in a national park near Paphos where anyone can watch them in their natural habitat.
Another must-have for the playroom is Wonderdough. Though modern playdough can be found in any shop in any country of the world, this one is totally made in a Cypriot spirit. The basic ingredients of the dough are wheat and extra virgin olive oil. Food dyes make the colours deep, warm and natural, there are no garish colours. Essential oils fill the room with nice smells during play time.
Producer’s motto is completely in line with the Cypriot ways: relax and enjoy. Besides the well-known effects of sculpting and moulding on developing of children’s mental and creative abilities, Wonderdough claims a calming and even a therapeutic effect not only on children, but on parents as well. Add aromatherapy and hand treatment by the almighty olive oil to the list of benefits and you’ll get a perfect gift for children from 0 to 100.
It may seem that private correspondence has left paper for good and only takes place online these days. Yet many still enjoy sending (and even more so receiving) birthday cards and greetings from their holiday spots. Sadly, the classic range of souvenir kiosks often leaves one wishing for something better. Illustrators and print enthusiasts are there to help the epistolary aesthetes out.
A great example is Letterpressed — a small print shop in Limassol old town. Its owner Katerina had studied graphic design and museum curating in London and upon her return to the homeland established her dream studio where she devotes herself to analogue hand printing. She uses old printing presses (each with a story of its own deserving a special attention) to create unique wedding and christening invitations, designer stationery, greeting cards and any custom-made printed materials where every smallest detail is of great importance to the client.
Letterpressed has an online shop, where you can order birthday cards for children and adults, Christmas and Valentine cards, thank you cards all of simple clean design, as well as notebooks and to-do list blanks. There is also a range of wrapping paper in calm colours for your bigger presents.
Should you wish for something with more figurative design, we recommend Made in Cyprus postcards by jewellery designer Anna Koumoushi. Their ironically naïve style reflects popular aspects of life and holiday making on Cyprus and illustrates local traditions and specialties. Anna’s collection also includes canvas bags with flamingo pattern, hair clips adorned with seashells and handmade necklaces, earrings and other accessories.
Perhaps it is even nicer to give than to receive gifts. Especially when they are full of meaning, character and usefulness. Please your nearest and dearest, give quality presents made with soul and don’t forget yourself!