Mill of Stylianou ©
Andreas C Chrysafis
LET ME TELL you a story about a man… but not just any man, but a man with super human strength and as powerful as an obstinate ox. Blessed with wide shoulders and bulging muscles, Stylianos stood six-feet tall and had arms as thick as a gnarled olive tree. At first sight of him, people moved aside fearful of his awesome presence; a single stare with those riveting black eyes of his, always sent shivers down their spine!
was born in the timeless village of Neon Chorion perched at the very
fringes of the Akamas forest overlooking the azure sea of the Bay of
Chrysochous. Two hundred years ago times were harsh and rural communities
experienced utter poverty. Putting bread on the table was everyone’s
than fishing, goat herding or carob and olive picking, there was hardly
any other work
Desperate peasants risked anything for survival and often had their lands
confiscated by devious moneylenders in repayment of small debts. Two year
ago, Stylianos fell victim to those same scoundrels but thanks to his old
friend Ibrahim Bei, he helped him rescue his patch of olive trees.
he was unable to repay his friend back as promised.
agreed that the honourable thing to do was to seek the advice of a Judge
on how Stylianos could repay his friend ‐ after all, the Judge was a
wise man! Early one morning, dressed in their Sunday best the two of them
mounted their mules and rode side by side for the two‐day trek to
the way there they stopped at the village of Androlikou where Greeks and
Turks lived in harmony, intermarried and equally struggled to scrape a
living. They dismounted at Kochos’ kafenio and sat under the shade of a
massive grape vine to have a rest and share a meal before departing again.
From the veranda, they had a clear view of the long road that snaked down
the slope and vanished into the gorge and beyond
and without a warning they heard the distant sound of Turkish folk music
drifting into the air. Everyone pricked their ears to listen and gazed
towards the gorge. Curiously enough, a long trail of camels, animals and
rickety carts were seen heading up the slope. At the forefront of the
entourage a belly dancer was leading the way to the sound of zumas,
baglamas and tambourines played by a band of elderly musicians.
the word went around pronouncing that Arab‐Ali the champion
strongman of Cyprus and
chose Androlikou as his next stop to challenge anyone into a fight for
large prize money. On approach, the noisy entourage camped in an adjacent
field next to the main square and in no time at all the place was
jam‐packed with the locals, while children quickly climbed up the
trees to get a better view. The lively belly dancer danced to the sound of
music alluring others to come from afar.
like this had ever happened in their sleepy village before and the locals
could not contain
excitement The moment Stylianos heard about the prize money he decided
this was an opportunity send by God.
he won the prize money, he would then pay off his friend and both could
return to their families!
eyes gleamed at the thought of winning and stood up. He took a deep breath
and as his chest
suddenly each and every button of his tight waste‐vest popped and
flew into the air like bullets. He gave out a loud holler and challenged
Arab‐Ali. The music instantly stopped in
of the wrestling to begin.
priest together with the imam quickly drafted a disclaimer so neither
could claim damages
the other; after all, this was an open fight and anything could happen!
They both signed the paper and Stylianos removed his black vraka and
undressed down to his long underwear. The Turk, a shapeless but fearsome
strongman stared at his opponent with a steely look sizing him up and
he made a sly smirk at Stylianos and slowly walked away. He disappeared
followed by the belly dancer. An exuberant and noisy crowd began to place
in the middle of the square, Stylianos waited and waited but no sign of
Arab‐Ali. Suddenly the music started again and the strongman made
his grand entrance; to everyone’s amazement he was covered in black
grease from head to toe. He looked as black as charcoal! Seeing the sight
of him, Stylianos got startled but then realized whom he was dealing with:
a cunning fighter who knew all the tricks on how to win! He was trapped!
clash of the giants had begun but it was no use. Stylianos was unable to
get a firm grip on the Anatolian Turk who was slippery like a slithering
snake! The fight continued forever it seemed and Stylianos was in deep
trouble. Self‐assured Arab‐Ali often entered into a wild roar
mocking Stylianos who was taking an awful beating. At one point Stylianos
was grabbed so tightly by the waist he felt his rib cage cracking! He gave
out a loud growl of pain and fell to the ground in agony. Immediately
Arab‐Ali seized the opportunity and grabbed a massive millstone from
the nearby mill and with brute force he lifted it above his head. Nobody
but nobody could lift up such a heavy millstone with his bare hands;
onlookers could not believe their eyes! Suddenly, they turned silent! They
realized what the strongman was about to do and began to yell at him to
stop but it was no use.
the danger, Stylianos quickly stood up and jumped aside avoiding the stone
almost crashing him like a lizard. He realized his end was near and a
sudden spark of thought flushed through his mind. Wounded he struggled
toward the village fountain and agitatedly begun to splash water all over
his body and hands, leaving Arab‐Ali wondering what he was doing. He
then hastily covered his whole body with sand from a pile. This was his
last chance! Covered in sand, he approached his opponent and stiffened his
thick fingers together and with one powerful thrust he swung and dug both
hands under Arab‐Ali’s rib cage and grabbed his ribs; his hands
instantly turned red with blood!
strongman gave out a loud growl but Stylianos showed no mercy and pulled
both hands apart ripping his rib cage in two. Arab‐Ali, the
unbeatable champion of them all, lay dead and defeated on the ground!
And so, the
Legend of the “Mill of Stylianou” was born…
STRONGMEN: 61 x 91cm 09/2011 © Andreas C Chrysafis
original oil painting has been inspired by the Stylianou family legend
that took place nearly two
years ago between Stylianos and ArabAli,