Skyros: Masquerader

Department Archive
Collection SPHS BSA Image Collection
Reference No. BSA SPHS 01/2225.5828
Level Item
Description Glass negative, a copy negative, quarter plate size.
Dimensions 10.5 x 8 cm
Place Skyros
Dates 1905
Creator Dawkins, Mr Richard McGillivray
Collection event Thrace: Carnival Folklore (Dawkins) 1905-1906
Scope and Content The original description in the SPHS register reads: "Masquerader from Scyros (J.H.S. p.202. fig. 9)"
Notes Dates to the time Dawkins was in Skyros to observe Carnival, March 1905 ('A Visit to Skyros' Annual of the British School at Athens 11: 72-80). The image in the publication is a drawing from this photograph, presumably by Dawkins, and was then reproduced in his article 'The Modern Carnival in Thrace and the Cult of Dionysus' Journal of Hellenic Studies 26: 191-206 on the carnival at Viza, a village in Thrace, where he observed a similar masquerade in spring 1906. The illustration in the article is a drawing based on this photograph. The image was used for the 1936 Exhibition of Minoan Civilization and the first 50 years work of the BSA at Burlington House in London.
Further information Scenes from Modern Greek Life
Historic images often show scenes from modern life. These are not modern in the current sense, but reflect a time they were taken. Some were captured unintentionally, recording an aspect of contemporary activity while composing scenes of other interest such as ancient or historical monuments. However, many were taken with the express purpose of recording folk life, part of a trend in the latter part of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. The process of categorizing these ethnographic scenes of everyday life in image collections reflected contemporary folklore categories: material life (eg. domestic architecture, dress, craft and agricultural production), social life (eg. games, festivals) and spiritual life (eg. superstitions, religious activities).

However, a significant idea encapsulated in these ethnographic images was the 19th-century concept of continuity - relics or survivals - of ancient social life and practices in the present. In Greece, this concept of continuity was notably promoted by the scholar of folklore (laographia), Nikolaos Politis, and held by many British classicists and archaeologists of the time. In fact, the Irish classical scholar, J.P. Mahaffy encapsulated this idea in his 1876 travel book, Rambles and Studies in Greece: "Everywhere the modern Greek town is a mere survival of the old". These survivals were often linked to classical literature, cult and myth by scholars of the Greek world.


It is clear that these images are not simply quaint historical scenes, but they embody principles inherent in the discipline of Hellenic Studies in the recent past.

Reference 1905. BSA 11: 73, fig. 1. Link to article
1906. JHS 26: 202, fig. 9. Link to article
1909 JHS 29: 5th accession to 1904 slide catalogue. lxxx.SPHS 5828. Link to article
1913 JHS 33: Catalogue of Slides. 33.SPHS 5828. Link to article
1936 Exhibition Catalogue. 89.No. 398b.