Ioanna Proiou, dubbed the “queen of loom weaving”, who passed down to generations the art of traditional weaving in Ikaria, Greece, passed away on Wednesday, at the age of 112.
A handloom is a wooden implement used in Greece since Homer’s era for weaving fabrics. The basic purpose of any loom is to hold the longitudinal warp threads in place and under tension to facilitate the interweaving and the filling of the weft threads.
Ikaria is among the remaining places of Greece that has a significant Greek hand-loom weaving tradition still alive, and produces organic textiles coming from the genius of its master women weavers.
From ancient times the women in Ikaria have been exceptionally skilled in the art of Greek loom weaving, and the tradition has been passed on through generations, standing out for its beauty, rare craftsmanship, and functionality.
Proiou was active despite her years. Until recently she operated a loom weaving workshop in the village of Raches in Ikaria. Her works were exhibited at a local museum of textile art.
“I wish you reach my age and know that one needs to set goals in life in order to be able to give content to it”, she had said in an interview with public television ERT.
“Loom weaving made me forget the hardships”
She was born in 1911 in Raches, Ikaria, the 12th among thirteen children. She was the mother of three children and a grandmother with five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Her mother was one of the best weavers on the island and taught her the art of weaving from the age of 15, which she did not abandon even during World War II. She loved the loom so much that she married late. At the age of 30, she decided to make a commitment and start a family.
But what set her apart early on was her passion and love for life. She was distinguished by the strength of her soul because she managed to overcome all the difficulties that came her way.
In Ikaria she created the “House of the Loom” and every summer she trained children in the art of weaving. She loved life, and especially life in Ikaria.
In 2020, he spoke to DW about the secrets of longevity. “Loom weaving helped me because it made me forget the hardships,” she said.
“Never give up. To work, to have a good heart. Do not envy anything from the other. Jealousy is a disease,” she has said.
Ikaria, a beautiful island located in the eastern Aegean, may look like any number of other Greek islands, but there is one vital difference—people there live much longer than the population on the mainland or even on other Greek islands.
In fact, people on Ikaria live on average ten years longer than those in the rest of Europe and the United States. Approximately one in three Ikarians lives into their nineties.