Casestudies - Guilds - Greece

Guild of furriers (gounarades) of Kozani


Type of institution for collective action


Name/description institution  

Guild of furriers (gounarades)




West Macedonia

Name of city or specified area 


(location on Google Maps: click here)

Further specification location (e.g. borough, street etc.)


Foundation/start of institution, date or year

February 1768

Foundation year: is this year the confirmed year of founding or is this the year this institution is first mentioned?

It is the year this institution is first mentioned. It is estimated that up to this year the guild of furriers had already fully developed.


According to a synodal letter of Bishop Ignatios (1752-1786) in the code of the Diocese of Serbia and Kozani, in February 1768 the official representatives (protomastores) of the guilds in the region of Kozani asked the Diocese to determine the church calendar, so they could close their workshops during the feast days. The text of the synodal decision on the church calendar is signed by the representatives of several guilds, including the craft guild of fur processors. 

Foundation act present?


Description of Act of foundation

The guild of furriers was the first guild in the region of Kozani that convened to compose its written foundation act on October 26th, 1786.


The foundation act was certified by the Bishop of the Diocese of Serbia and Kozani, Theofilos (1785-1811), and three clerics of the community of Kozani.


The act consists of ten chapters. The first chapter refers to the respect that all members have to show to the leaders of the guild (protomastores). The second chapter indicates that the raw material should be distributed to all members equally, unless someone could not pay for it. The chapters three to eight describe the hierarchy of the workshops’ staff: master, apprentice, servant/underling (baskalis, kalfas, tsiraki) and their obligations. The ninth chapter refers to the duty of the guild’s members, as Christians, to preserve and honor all the feast days. Finally, the tenth chapter provides the record of the guild’s resources and debts.

Year of termination of institution

First decade of the twentieth century.

Year of termination: estimated or confirmed?


Act regarding termination present?



Description Act of termination


Reason for termination?

Lower economic performance and increasing external competition.

Recognized by local government?


Concise history of institution

It is estimated that the guild of furriers in Kozani had been operating a long time before the composition of its foundation act in 1786. The harsh climate and the general socio-economic development of the city of Kozani favored the art of fur processing. The performance of the guild in the manufacture sector was sufficient in terms of internal needs, within the geographic limits of West Macedonia.


However, in the last decades of the Ottoman rule in Kozani (which was deliberated and incorporated to Greece in 1912) the guild of fur processors was in rapid decline. Specifically, it confronted increasing difficulties, since European fabrics started to be imported. The guild was not able to cope with external competition. Furthermore, in contrast with their fellow guild in Kastoria, the members of the guild of fur processors in Kozani had not developed bonds with other larger regions of Ottoman Empire, such as Constantinople (Istanbul), in order to transfer their technical knowledge and prevent the extinction of the experts in this sector.


Picture of centre of Kozani before deliberation in 1912.

Special events? Highs and lows? Specific problems or problematic periods?

See above.


Numbers of members (specified)

From known sources for the year 1786 (at the time of the foundation act): 20-22 members.

Membership attainable for every one, regardless of social class or family background?

Every person who practiced the profession of fur processing could become member of this guild, regardless of social class or family background. The membership limitations were related more to the religious beliefs and the ethnicity of the members, who were all Christians and Greek-speaking citizens.

Specific conditions for obtaining membership? (Entrance fee, special tests etc.)

According to the third chapter of the guild’s foundation act, the specific conditions for obtaining membership and license to practice the profession were mainly: the successful completion of the apprenticeship under the supervision of a master and the payment of the entrance fee called “ntestiri”, of which the amount is not specified in the document.

Specific reasons regarding banning members from the institution?


Advantages of membership?

The main advantage of membership was the equal distribution of the raw material (the animal skins coming from the mountains of West Macedonia) among the members of the guild. This way, the unfair competition was avoided and all members had equal chances to succeed.



The old market of Kozani, painting by Manolis Dragonas

Obligations of members? 


The masters were obliged not to accept an apprentice, who had left his previous master without completing his apprenticeship, without the permission of the other members of the guild .



The apprentice, who wanted to leave his master before completing his apprenticeship, should not receive the salary (roga) of that year.


Servants / Underlings

The underling, who had worked under a master for a year in his own expense, had to be remunerated by this master the second year. The servant, who worked under a master in the latter’s expense, had to work for this master for three years and only the fourth year he could be remunerated.


Whoever violated the aforementioned rules was obliged to pay a fine of 10 aslania (Turkish currency equivalent to grosia), of which one third was given to the community church of Saint Nikolaos, the other third was given to the Bishop and the last third was given to the guild.

Literature on case study

  • Kalinderis, M., 1950. The guilds of Kozani under the Ottoman Rule, pp. 21-4; 27-33. Athens.
  • Kalinderis, M., 1939. Historical notes from West Macedonia, pp. 11-2. Ptolemais.
  • Kalinderis, M., 1951. The unbound documents of the Public Library of Kozani (1676-1808), pp. γ’-δ’. Thessaloniki.
  • Lioufis, P. N., 1924. History of Kozani, pp. 64-5; 285; 318. Athens.

Sources on case study

  •  Code of Diocese of Serbia and Kozani (1745-1826), pp. 29a’-b’, 70a’-b’

Links to further information on case study:


Case study composed by

Kleoniki Alexopoulou