Karakachan Socks Album 1 Under Construction

While all Karakachan women, including those living in Greece, wore long socks called kaltses (κάλτσες) or tsourapia (τσουράπια), these hand-woven socks or patunes (πατούνες in Greek) and leggings (κοντοτσούραπα) were worn only by women of the Karakachan tribe living in Thrace, Eastern Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey but not by women living in the rest of Greece, where the same tribal people are known as Sarakatsani.  This perhaps suggests an eastern Influence for the origin and development of the patunes during the period in which the Karakachans were an entirely nomadic people, as socks of similar construction are found through the Middle East at least as far as Afghanistan. The use of crosses as motifs in these socks, costume, marriage bags (κλουροτρουβάδες) and in rugs (βελεντζα), after assimilation into the Christian Orthodox community appear to have a Christian connotation. However, according to Karakachan folk lore the cross has a talismanic and protective meaning and may well have much earlier tribal origin. In Bulgaria the word Karakachan has taken on a wider generic meaning of nomadic people regardless of tribal origin.

The patunes were knitted with a special type of hand-spun wool called kaltsoskouti (καλτσοσκούτι) using carved wooden boxwood kaltsovelona needles (καλτσοβέλονα) used in conjunction with several thin knitting needles. The older socks use wool coloured with all natural dyes. Here are photos of Karakachan kaltsovelona and a drop spindle, and three fine boxwood kaltsovelona (from the Amorgos Art Collection in Athens).