The Abduction of Europe

Crafted by Maria Galanaki ( 2.40×1.60 cm )

Legend has it that Europa was the daughter of Agenor, the Phoenician king, and Queen Telephassa. Zeus, charmed by the maiden’s pure beauty, transforms into a powerful, shining white bull with glossy hide, silver horns and a golden sun on his brow and kneeled before her. Europa, dazzled by his beauty and carefree, climbs on his back, and suddenly the bull’s behaviour changes. He rushes into the sea and away over the billowing waves.

Zeus brought her to Crete to the Dictaean Cave, his birth cave, where they made their bridal bed. The fruit of their love will be the royal dynasty of Minoan Crete: Minos, Rhadamanthys and Sarpedon.

In addition to the mythical symbols, this work of art also presents a post- dated tradition: the threads of fertility, which hang from the ceiling of the cave, above the heads of a couple. In ancient times, the Dictaean Cave was a sanctuary of Eileithyia, the goddess of procreation and childbirth, a symbol of motherhood and fertility. According to one legend, if a woman had trouble conceiving, she would go to the sacred cave and leave a cord in a special crypt, where is was believed to be the birthplace of Zeus, for three weeks. Once the moon had run its course, she returned, took the cord and tied it around her waist until she became pregnant. Once the child was born, she removed the cord and hung it up in the same place, where it remained until it disintegrated.

Museum of Folk Art & Tradition
Angeliki Hatzimihali

Visitation Hours:
Tuesday – Friday:
11am – 4pm
Saturday-Sunday: 10am – 3pm
Monday: closed