Gail Holst-Warhaft 

Amanes: The Legacy of the Oriental Mother 

In his "Journey to the Morea" (O Moreas), Nikos Kazantzakis writes: "In the taverns, at festivals, on holidays, when they have drunk a little, the small businessmen and infantry officers [of the Peloponnese], so logical and selfish, break into melancholy eastern amanedhes (sing. amanes), into a sudden longing; they reveal a psyche completely different from their sober everyday one. A great treasure, a deep longing....". (1965: 325) [my translation]. 

Further on, Kazantzakis expands on the bifurcating nature of the contemporary Greek of his day: "What has the dually-descended modern Greek taken from his father, what from his mother?.. He is clever and shallow, with no metaphysical anxieties, and yet, when he begins to sing, a universal bitterness leaps up from his oriental bowels, breaks through the crust of Greek logic and, from the depths of his being, totally mysterious and dark, the Orient emerges..." (ibid: 326). 

In these two passages Nikos Kazantzakis articulates a common Greek attitude to a late Ottoman musical tradition, and in particular to the vocal improvisations called amanedhes


  1. The Amanes
  2. The Refugees and the Music of Nostalgia
  3. The Asia Minor Style in the United States
  4. Endnotes
  5. References
  6. Sources

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(updated 1 Sept 2000)