From China to Soufli: Riding the Silky Way

From China to Soufli: Riding the Silky Way

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The chairperson of the Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation, Ms Sophia Staikou, and the Director of the China National Museum of Silk, Mr Feng Zhao, signed a Cooperation Agreement on 18 October 2017, in Hangzhou, China.

A series of cultural exchanges and exhibitions, as well as research and educational actions are planned under the Cooperation Agreement signed last October between the China National Museum of Silk and the Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation (PIOP), aiming at a wider cooperation between the two institutions for the promotion of silk culture.

As the chairperson of PIOP, Ms Staikou explained, the starting point of this cooperation was the Chinese Ambassador Zou Xiaoli’s visit to the Silk Museum at Soufli, last summer. “The common aim of the two Museums regarding the promotion of silk has been the basis of our dialogue. The signing of the agreement, which emerged along the way, became the foundation for the gradual building of cooperation between the two institutions”, she added.

In the near future, the PIOP and the China National Museum of Silk will narrow down their cooperation and will formulate a framework of communication that will also include local communities. Given that the year 2018 has been declared a European Year of Cultural Heritage, the aim is to activate the agreement between the two institutions immediately, with a variety of actions at Soufli and other cities. “We intend to make use of the other Museums of our Network in order to demonstrate the high potential of China’s Belt & Road Initiative”, Ms Staikou told Athens-Macedonia Press Agency (AMNA).

The Silk Museum at Soufli

The Silk Museum at Soufli is part of PIOP’s Thematic Museum Network. It is housed in the Kourtides Mansion, which was built in 1883 by local craftsmen and constitutes a remarkable example of the urban architecture in this area.

The Museum’s visitors can see all stages of pre-industrial sericulture and silk-making and at the same time, learn about the socio-economic context that turned this region into an important silk-producing centre in Greece, from late 19th to mid-20th century, hosting 4 major silk factories, which employed more than 400 skilled workers.

It should be noted that, in January 2017, the Chinese network CCTV NEWS, in the framework of a tribute to Greece, visited the Soufli area. In a report entitled “Weaving a Future, One Greek Town Spins Silk into Fortune”, the mayor of Soufli, Mr Evangelos Poulilios, expressed his hope that Soufli will attract investments from China and thus be able to play a role in the new “Silk Roads”.

Sources: AMNA, the Silk Museum