History of Crete
Musical Instruments of Crete
Cretan Dances
Rebel Songs (Rizitika)
Folk Poetry (Mantinades)
Legends of Crete


It is not still clarified from where or when the rizitika songs were imported in Western Crete. It seems however that they have maintained the roots from the Byzantine times and have been continued on the Venetian domination, therefore many of them were formed. Most of them however were created during the Ottoman domination, as their content witness the circumstances where they were written.
The rebel songs (rizitika) are known to be a dialect and are sung in the regions around the White Mountains, and from there their use expands in the entire Western Crete, while as long as we move to the Eastern part of Crete, they decline in such a way, that beyond the Anogia of Milopotamos are nearly unknown. For the last years however, with the frequent communication of the residents of these regions, these songs began to be learnt and sung again.

Their name, was taken by the villages of Cydonia, Selino, Sfakia and in general the villages that are found near the feet of the White Mountains, that is Lakkoi, Mesila, Therisso, Prases, Roumata, Keramia, and the mountainous villages that are found around the White Mountains (Madares). Consequently, Rizitika are called the special songs that are sung in these villages as well as in all the provinces of the prefecture of Chania.

As for their time of origin, there have been reported songs that their creation, by internal clues, is placed in the Byzantine years, in the Venetian domination, in the Ottoman domination and in the 20th century, until today. The last fertile period of creation of the rizitika songs was, as it appears, the period of the German domination (1941-1944). Since that time the old rizitika songs are being recycled and, while they are often being written pieces in verse in the rizitiko style (that are published signed in newspapers or are included in collections of eponymous Cretan popular poets), very little have the chance to pass to the popular singers and become genuine popular songs. Most of these songs are established only through the lyre players, that for certain decades have "adopted" the rizitiko style, arranging it unfortunately not always successfully, and adapting it within the rules of amusement, that differ considerably than the way of entertainment of the rizitika masters.

The theme of the rizitika songs differs. We have songs mentioning historical facts, songs of Death, of the street, company, heroic songs, erotical and reported in daily circumstances, in the living conditions of the shepherds, etc.
Many of the rizitika are interpreted allegorically and are detected into them coded liberating messages that were transfered in times of slavery. Nowadays the rizitika function still in the traditional way, however mainly in teams of their realised friends, that are often organised in associations for their protection.


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