Karpathos The traditional stivania

Karpathos - The traditional stivania

The stivania (a type of boots) are part of the traditional outfit of the Olympos village. The bright red color that the women’s stivania have, along with their ornate embroidery make them distinct works of art. There are many steps between the initial leather processing and the binding and the embroidery. All of them are made by hand.

First of all, the boot maker draws all the parts of a foot on paper, i.e. the length, the width, the calf. There are footprint drawings for all sizes. Then, he places the drawings on the leather and cuts accordingly. Parts of a shoe include the so-called bastardeli (at the heels), the kalami (around the calves), the kores and the psidi (where the ornaments are placed). Cutting begins from the heels and the bastardeli. The next steps include the embroidery by hand or on a machine, the mending and the sewing of the sole. The edging is sewn using a string and another piece of leather is placed under it to cover the gaps and the seams.

There is no doubt that weaving requires skill. There are different kinds of boots for the single women (with more ornaments), like the so-called “myrtia”, and for the married ones. Shoes worn on special occasions are different than the ones used every day!


Giannis Prearis is the last stivania maker in Karpathos and his shop is located on the central path running through Olympos.

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