Tuesday, December 5, 2023


The Sarakatsani are an ethnic Greek population subgroup who were traditionally transhumant shepherds, native to Greece, with a smaller presence in neighbouring Bulgaria, southern Albania, and North Macedonia.

Historically centred on the Pindus mountains and other mountain ranges in continental Greece, most Sarakatsani have abandoned the transhumant way of life and have been urbanised.

The traditional Sarakatsani settlements, dress and costumes make them a distinct social and cultural group within the collective Greek heritage. Their distinctive folk arts consist of song, dance, and poetry, as well as decorative sculptures in wood and embroidery on their traditional costumes, which resemble the geometric art of pre-classical Greece.

In medicine, they use a number of folk remedies including herbs, honey and lamb's blood.

The Sarakatsani traditionally have spent the summer months in the mountains and returned to the lower plains in the winter. The Sarakatsani were not always nomads, but only turned to harsh nomadic mountain life to escape Ottoman rule. The Sarakatsani were found in several mountainous regions of continental Greece, with some groups of northern Greece moving to neighbouring countries in the summer, since border crossings between Greece, Albania, Bulgaria and the former Yugoslavia were relatively unobstructed until the middle of the 20th century. 

After 1947, with the beginning of the Cold War, borders between these countries were sealed; and some Sarakatsani groups were trapped in other countries and not able to return to Greece.

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