Tears of Chios

Because of its uniquely suitable microclimate, the Greek island of Chios is a major producer of mastic, or ‘Arabic gum’ - the resin of the mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus). In medieval times the substance was popular as a breath freshener and was popular as a chewed gum (hence the name ‘mastic’) to aid in the prevention of tooth decay and gingivitis. For the 24 official ‘Mastic villages’ of Southern Chios which form the membership of the Chios Gum Mastic Growers Association (CGMGA), the cultivation of the prized resin is big business.

The cultivation and harvest of the ‘tears of Chios’ is a laborious and time-consuming process. The production of mastic is controlled by the Growers’ Association, founded in 1938, which buys the raw material from the growers at between 40 and 70 euros per kg. Mastic production on Chios is covered by European Union schemes that protect local products such as wines and cheeses by only allowing genuine producers to use specific product names.

Alfredo D'Amato


In my view, photography is a visual language and a personal way to express emotions and perceive people, environments and events. Therefore, a photographer is someone who re-represents reality in his own language.

Alfredo is a photographer who believes in the emotional power standing behind any long-term project which stems from a personal interest, a deep inner thinking or, rather, from a touching external event.

A graduate of the Documentary Photography degree course at the University of Wales in Newport, he has mainly worked on long-term projects focusing on both western and eastern Europe, Africa and South America, with a particular interest in Portuguese speaking countries. Alfredo has had his work published in many international newspapers and magazines and has worked for many NGOs in Europe and further afield.

Alfredo has won the prestigious Observer Hodge Award and received the first prize in photojournalism at the One Media awards and UNICEF Photo of the year. In 2005 he was selected for the World Press Photo Masterclass and was granted the Marco Pesaresi scholarship in Italy.