Mastiha is a unique product that is cultivated only in Chios, and specifically in southern Chios and has been characterized as a Product of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO). It is an aromatic, natural resin, which is secreted in the form of tears from the trunk and large branches of the mastiha tree, in the superficial incisions caused by the producers with sharp tools.
Working the mastiha trees is a tradition of centuries and is unchanged over time. It is associated with the tradition of the mastiha villages and it needs attention and work throughout the year. The mastiha trees or otherwise the “shinos”, must be fertilized, branches must be trimmed and the ground around the tree must be cleaned before anything begins. Once the ground around the tree is clean of plants and stones, its leveled and then it is ready for the “colouring”. The “colouring” is a procedure in which the leveled ground under the tree is covered in a white dirt called “asprohoma”, which is very sieved, so the mastiha drops can fall on a clean as possible surface. Now the trees are ready for the “kentima”, the most important part of the prodution of mastiha. During this part, the tree itself is cut “kentima”, with sharp objects, small cuts as to inflict damage but not to sever any branches. The tools used in this process are called “kentitiria”. This must be done for each mastiha tree twice a week in the months of July and August. In mid-August, the gathering begins, first with the so-called mastiha pies, the thickest mastiha drops. In mid-September is the next phase of picking. At that point cultivatοrs start collecting the mastiha drops that are smaller. After all pies, drops and even droplets of mastiha are gathered, the very difficult and time-consuming task of cleaning the mastiha begins, the so-called “pastrema”. Traditionally this is done by groups of women, as a some what of social activity and so they can help each other. This activity begins in the fall and may even finish in the spring. Once all of this is finished, the final product goes to the Chios Mastiha Producers Association.
TRADE OF MASTIHA
Since 1346 Vessa belongs to Genoese, likewise the whole Chios Island. The island’s commercial exploitation was carried out by a private company, named Mahona. The island’s most profitable product was mastiha. Employees were assigned to collect it from mastiha producers and equally distributed it to the company’s shareholders. However, this regime was very hard for the mastiha producers.
In 1566 Chios becomes part of the Ottoman Empire. Ottomans implement a less stringent policy than Genoese. Once a year, mastiha producers used to pay part of their mastiha production as a tax, giving the best quality of mastiah to the Sultan’s Harem.
After the end of Ottoman Greece, the First World War brought a crisis concerning the mastiha trade, that remained in decline even when the war was over and regardless of the State’s efforts. This is when the Chios Mastiha Growers Association was founded. The Association, acting methodically, has managed to promote the mastiha consumption beyond the annual production.
Vessa is one of the mastiha villages of Chios and its inhabitants continue to cultivate the famous and unique product of mastiha. So, as a village participates in the mastiha feast organized every year by all mastiha villages. In the summer of 2018, it also successfully hosted the celebration, which had a great impact on the audience because of its originality.
The event included, which was loved by both young and old, a map of the mastiha villages with lyrics (rimes) for each of the mastiha villages, as the visitor was touring the settlement of Vessa. Touring the village, you could not miss the highlights of the folklore and traditions of Vessa.
Unique experieces, along with the locals
Residents of Vessa, their occupations and festivities.
What is worth visiting when you arrive in the village
Try local delicacies and meet the locals
DISTILLATION OF SOUMA
Live the unique experience of "kazanisma"