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Christos the "Arab". An Ethiopian in post-revolutionary Athens.

Updated: Apr 8, 2021

The awarded portrait of Christos by the famous Greek artist, Nikolaos Gyzis.

Χρήστος ο Αράπης, Το βραβευμένο έργο του Λύτρα.

It was painted by the most important Greek painters, such as Nikolaos Gyzis, George Iakovidis and Nikiforos Lytras, the famous I. Vitsaris made his bust, while the most important lyricists dealt with his master. The works depicting him cost tens of thousands of euros in the international art markets, but no one published sufficient biographical information about "Christos the Arab". And yet he was baptized an Orthodox Christian, his name was Christos Monastiriotis, he was born in 1826, he had acquired Greek citizenship and was a citizen of Athens. He was dark and benevolent. A child still fell, in an unknown way, in Attica, alone and black among whites.

Without any relatives, married, when he was mocked, chased or beaten he shouted that he was a "free Greek" and voted, so no one had the right to tease him. He had fully acclimatized to the Greek reality, he often used the slogan "freedom - theft", implying with the appropriate gestures money abuses. He lived as a wanderer and homeless, for a short period of time he was hired by the public at the Disinfection Center and knew the Athenians one by one by name. He went to weddings and celebrations, receiving tips, while due to his color he was an ideal model and posed for sculptors and painters. He kissed the small children, at the urging of their precautionary mothers, so that they would not look at each other, while the infants were frightened by his face and smile when they met him in the tree line of Amalia Avenue.

He made a living by doing errands. He had no enemies, but he hated only the English and England with passion. His hatred was due to the fact that the English had beaten him mercilessly in 1854, when he was caught in the act - despite the ban - to supply his compatriots soldiers with brandy and ouzo Tyrnavos. However, he maintained relations with the embassy, ​​as with all diplomatic missions in Athens. He knew the national holidays of each state and "His Excellency Christ the Arab" took care of the relevant wishes, of course expecting the relevant pocket money in return.

Perhaps the most important portrait of him was painted by Nikolaos Gyzis, winning a second-class gold award at the "Art and Industry Exhibition" held in 1876, at the famous Glas Palast in Munich. A correspondent for Greek newspapers in Munich, describing the play, noted that Christos appeared to be "laughing with the usual stupid ridicule, due to which his mouth lets the naughty one be seen and then an empty row of white people was burned!"

A Life in the streets

As for "Christos the Arab" he spent his whole life on the streets of Athens and Piraeus, he never spoke Greek properly, he had a weakness for beautiful beings and many legends accompanied his death. He died on July 5, 1886 "from acute intestinal catarrh" and at the age of 60, according to official medical records. He left his last breath in the municipal hospital of Athens, which, in the absence of relatives and due to a question, undertook the expenses of his funeral.

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