There is no other statue in Chios that has been connected so closely with the inhabitants of the island more than the statue of Kanaris, which is situated within the Municipal Park. One wonders whether this is because of its location in the most central place of the town or because the sculptor has managed to influence our sentiment by means of the dynamic position of the hero.
Originally, around 1920, in search of the location, there had been proposed its placement in the northern breakwater, because of its proximity to the point where the Turkish Flagship had been burnt down. However, finally they chose the place where it stands up to now in the public garden. Up to its placement the process was adventurous, just like the life of the portrayed hero. The devastation of Asia Minor and the financial break-up of both state and society, the revolts and revolutions, refugeeism and humiliation, were the reasons why it was kept for some years inside the wooden crates in which it was transported from Paris to Chios, in 1924. However, the pedestal marbles that had been ordered in Tinos, were delayed. They finally arrived in Chios one year later and the statue was erected ‘amidst the flower garden district, in front of the grove’, as the press of those times wrote.
Finally, the unveiling took place in July 1927, with every splendour. Brightly-lit and flowery arches, flags, poles with coat of arms, officials and a great number of people, created a unique day in the history of Chios. Excursionists from the nearby islands of Lesvos and Samos gave a special tone, while the heart of Kanaris was transported from Athens preserved in a silver lecythus.
Ever since, bronze Kanaris has witnessed from its high pedestal all historical and non-historical moments of Chios. The face of the seaman in breeches, with the dynamic movement, became the favourite point of photograph for a great number of Chians: families, army officers, children, youngsters and old-aged. Without doubt, there is no house in the island and in Chian diaspora, which doesn’t have even one photo with the fireship captain from Psara in the background .
Michael Tombros (1889-1974)
He was born in Athens with origin from Andros. In 1903- 1909 he studied sculpture in the School of Fine Arts. He was appointed as a teacher in the School in 1938, whereas he later served there as the Director. In 1968 he was elected as a member of Athens Academy. His work was great and various: busts, statues, war memorials as well as free compositions. In Chios, apart from the statue of Kanaris, the war memorial in Kalamoti is also a work of his own.
Translated to English by Anastasia Pentakis