Parian coat of arms of the Kondylis family. In the escutheon a left hand holding a pen (kondyli). This coat of arms is found on the grave of +1681 Nikolaos Kondylis in the atrium of Ekatontapyliani.

Vazaeos (or Vazeos or Vazaeyios or Bazeos or Bazaeos)
Franco-Levantine surname related to the noble Venetian family of Baseggio.
The crown in the escutcheon corresponds to the title of a duke.

Kavallis (or Kavalis)
One of the Cretan-Venetian families which fled to the villages of Kefalos after the occupation of Crete by the Turks in 1669.
An important family (the last Venetian deputy in Crete belonged to it) with a “parlante” coat of arms representing a horse (in Italian cavallo means horse).

Name of an old, rich and eminent family, most probably of Byzantine origin, whose members had served as consuls of France and Austria at the island.
The family is believed to have come to Paros from Athens and to be related with the family of Halkokondilides. Its coat of arms is “parlante” as it bears a pen (kondyli in Greek).

Surname of Latin origin, at Antiparos. The coat of arms is probably related to this specific family.
A similar surname is met at Naoussa as well, but the connection between the two branches is not clear.

Name of the founder of the Duchy of Naxos, Markos Sanoudos (Marco Sanudo), crusader and nephew of the Doge of Venice Enrico Dandolo.
The coat of arms of this family is simple. The silver colour alludes to a shield and consequently to a warrior, while the blue to the purity of his character.

Surname of an eminent Byzantine family with significant history in Crete and subsequent presence at several Aegean islands.
Most probably its coat of arms is “parlante” as it bears three bulbs of garlic (in Greek “skorda”) -in at least one version- in a green background.

Stellas (or Stelas)
A Cretan-Venetian family. One of its members was Nikolaos Stellas, a young fighter who died heroically during the Nazi Occupation.
In Latin “stella” means “star” something which explains the presence of stars in the family’s coat of arms.

Tsigonias (or Tzigonias or Isigonis)
Family of Venetian descent appearing at the Kefalos villages in the 17th century. Its name comes from the Latin word “cicogna” which means “stork”, something which appears in its “parlante” coat of arms. A member of the branch of the Isigonis family was the famous designer of the Mini Cooper sir Alec Issigonis.

The coats of arms of Paros

Text: Petros Alexiou

How can one know the history of a place?
Usually through books, narrations and visits to museums or archaeological sites. Nevertheless, there are also other sources that we rarely make much of, although they hide significant riches. At Paros, two such sources are the family names and the coats of arms of the old noble families.

Possibly, the large number and the ubiquitous presence of the family names are the reasons for which we by pass them, without crediting them with the importance they deserve. However, a name can reveal not only the origin and the family history of a person but also aspects of the history of a place. It is indicative that researchers who have studied the surnames of Paros have divided them in five general categories, with three of them practically corresponding to different periods.

A first group comprises the “Greek- old Byzantine” surnames which descend from the time before 1204 – before the fall of Constantinople to the Franks and the Venetian rule. Such are the family names Alisafis, Arkoulis , Agallianos, Paleologos, Argiropoulos and others.

Then, we have the “Franco-Levantine surnames dating from the era of the Venetian rule and usually indicating Italian origin: Tsigonias (from cicogna -stork), Armaos (arma-the weapon), Alimprantis (of Lombardian origin), Ragousis (from the old naval Republic of Ragusa).

Then we have the family names of those who fled to Paros after the occupation of Morias and Crete by the Turks. In the families of Cretan or Cretan- Venetian origin we have names like Kritikos, Kandiotis (from Candia, the present day Heraklion), Galanakis, Ritsos Pavlakis, Klironomos, Kavalis (Cavallo-a horse) and  also the names of those from the Peloponnese: Tripolitsiotis, Demetrakopoulos, Moraitis…

Some of these family names fall in the category of the “country and place indicative names” which indicate the place  the name bearer came from, lived and worked: e.g Eginitis, Aivaliotis (Aivali in Asia Minor), Axiotis (from Axia- Naxos) and so on.
Finally, as is also the case in other places, at Paros most surnames originate from someone’s profession or nickname: Milonas, Maounis, Xasouris, Kaparos,(blonde in the Cretan dialect) Galanos, Malamatenios, Akalestos…

The Coats of Arms of Paros

Another related source for the history of Paros is the coats of arms of the island’s old noble families. If we look carefully, we can discern them sculptured, usually in marble, at the lintels of houses, churches even in tombs. More easily we can find images of all of them, made by the painter Dimitris Sifneos. at the historical and folklore Museum of Naousa.

Most of the coats of arms of Paros take us back to the era of the Venetian rule. When the crusaders divided among themselves the Byzantine lands after the fall of Constantinople in 1204, Paros along with some ten other islands went to the Duchy of Naxos, founded in 1207 by the Venetian Marco Sanudo. The Venetians divided the island in small feuds they gave to noble families of the West but also to local noble families.

In 1537 Hayreddin Barbarossa, a notorious pirate but also chief admiral of the Turkish fleet occupied the island, practically putting an end to Venetian rule. However, many Venetian families chose to remain on the island. In time they were assimilated to the Greek population and all of them adopted the Greek Orthodox faith, consequently there is almost no Catholic element at Paros, contrary to what is the case at Tinos, Naxos, Siros and Santorini. In general, the coats of arms of Paros belong to such families, but also to some noble families of Byzantine descent which adopted this social symbol.


Coats of arms: a guide for beginners

The coats of arms, that is symbols which in a systematic way mark individuals, families or groups and are inherited from generation to generation appear in widespread use in the era of the crusades and more specifically in the 12th century, at first serving as a practical solution to the war needs of the armies.  As the face of the knights could not be seen behind the heavy armory, the symbols and the colors of each coat of arms indicated their identity and the camp they belonged. Later, when the professional armies and firearms sent the knights to the dustbin of history, the coats of arms fell into misuse as military symbols, but their charm, their power as symbols of authority or social status and their decorative value extended their use to our time.

In general, a coat of arms gives emphasis to some quality, an aspect of history or some achievement: for example, a heart indicates loyalty, a pilgrim’s walking stick discloses that he is a pilgrim to the Holy Sepulcher, while a reversed saber might indicate the illegitimate child of a nobleman. Certainly, in many cases the reason of the existence of a specific symbol in a coat of arms has been forgotten, while there are coats of arms with only a decorative role. The most simple symbolism is met in the so called “speaking” or “obvious” (parlante) coats of arms which simply represent an object directly related to the name of their owner (i.e. the coat of arms of the Kefala family shows the head of a man -kefali= head).The use of color also plays an important role: the red color reminds of blood and therefore indicates bravery, blue indicates purity, green alludes to landownership.

A coat of arms is made up of many different elements which are not randomly arranged but follow specific rules. These elements may indicate or symbolize something or they may just serve decorative purposes. A central role in the entire complex is played by the escutcheon which usually has the shape of a shield and the colors of the bearer. Around the escutcheon and in specific positions there are various accessories like a crown, an emblem, the supporters, a motto and others. The shape of the crown, for example, reveals the social position or the rank in the nobles hierarchy (king, prince, baron etc.) of the bearer.

The analysis, study and registration of the coats of arms today make up a special science called heraldry.