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Worry beads and mangas

Throughout its history, mankind is obliged to assign names to all things. In this way words are created. With the course of time and due to social change the meaning of some words changes. This happened with the words worry bead and mangas.

Mangas was a member of a manga, a small, independent armed group. During the Ottoman times it used to be an independent body of men that fought against the Turks. Its members were primarily Greeks and Albanians. Their distinctive feature was their passion for freedom, independence, truth, justice and equality. Another feature was their braveness, their pride and especially mpesa ( a word of Albanian origin meaning candour-word of honor).

Since history is initially written by the victors that are extreme nationalists and serve the interests of their class, the history behind mangas and manga is not taught in schools.

Today, the term mangas is used in a general way and has a broad content. Life, society, people have a special dynamic and nothing remains hidden, nothing is lost, everything has its value, everything has its impact. As a result the term mangas did not disappear. Its meaning changed and it was appropriated by many social groups. Such groups wished to remain in the margins, had or wanted to have the features of members of the manga. Such groups were the koutsavakides, the thugs, the rembetes etc.

A distinctive feature of the aforementioned groups was the psychological need to show off their EGO. This was exhibited in their peculiar clothes, the way they walked, their hairstyle, the things they were holding. They were holding various items they used in a specific way. They used to hold a walking stick, a double edged knife, a pistol, musical instruments such as mpouzouki and baglama, a key ring in the shape of a chain, a pocket watch, a carnation and a begleri! Yes, a begleri, not a worry bead.

A begleri is a kind of a hand garland (symbol of social power, superiority, wealth and sceptre of power. The holders used to twist is in their hands and slam the beads in order to state their presence in their social environ. Τhe special features of the holders’ personality of the worry bead and their wisdom defined the size of the beads, their colour, their number, its shape and its use.

For those who ignore the history of the worry bead but still use one, it’s good to know that the aforementioned characteristics have a subconscious function for everyone and hence the kind of the worry bead we hold and the way we use it, is indicative of our personality. The rembetes linked their philosophy and their specific kind of manhood with the mpegleria – worry beads, they wrote songs about them and even used them as musical instruments. In the cd under the title “Hantra Hantra tragoudao” you can clearly hear the sound of the beads of a worry bead at the edge of wine glass in the song “Kompoloi kai Koutsavakia”.

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