Bulgaria has a rich tradition and culture that incorporate arts and crafts into everyday life. Many of the crafts are specific to certain regions and towns. Looking at craft traditions you can learn plenty of the Bulgarian people, their lives and their religion. Within the next few weeks, I will explore different crafts practised in Bulgaria and even try a few myself. Here is a little background on some of the more well-known crafts.
Embroidery In Bulgaria
Embroidery was often used in a style of geometric shapes arranged along hemlines, tablecloths and clothes as decoration. They often used bright continuous lines od colour to stand out from the bright white shirts and cloths around the home. The colours combined together often created a wonderful array of rainbow effect, this was often inspired by the presence of flowers and nature. Houses were often surrounded by flowers and nature making this a common and staple source of inspiration within the designs.
Weaving And Carpet Making
This was also another popular craft that has been traditionally used in Bulgarian culture. The most known towns where carpets are made are Kotel and Chiprovtsi. Bulgarian women were skilled weavers who would create wonderful colour combinations and patterns. The patterns varied from the 2 towns, Kotel is characterised by large patterns and Chiprovtsi as smaller patterns. There are rugs also made in the Rhodope mountains, these are characterised with blended fringes of colours white, yellow and brown. The weaving process has also lead to much smaller items being made such as bags, aprons, belts and pillowcases, these are also worth picking up on your visit.
These bracelets are a tradition with Bulgarians every March, they are made using predominately from red and white yarn twisted together and woven together to create wonderful patterns. These bracelets are worn throughout the month of March until they see a stork or a blooming tree. The bracelets are then tied to the tree as a way of welcoming spring and saying adieu to winter. This is what would be called a holiday called ‘Baba Marta’ ( “Grandmother March”). Check out how to make your own here.
Pottery is well known still until this day and is often bought as a souvenir. Troyan, Gabrovo and Teteven were well-known centres for pottery making. The designs on the pottery were etched in with straight lines and became popular in later years using colour used pots and jugs.
Bulgarian Icon Painting
Icon painting came from the Christian faith in the ninth and tenth centuries. The craft evolved until it hit a peak within the second Bulgarian Kingdom. The craft was initially characterised as disciplined, the Bulgarians moved on to making the icons more realistic with fuller faces and landscaped backgrounds making them look truer to life. Such things as heavy crowns and thrones were introduced with much more vivid colours. The town’s most known for these such works were Tryavna, Bansko, Samokov.
Woodworking was another craft that was used and became very useful. The craft was used to make items such as furniture and utensils. The woodwork pieces were often decorated to make them look more attractive. Patterns were created using the inspiration of nature and so flowers and leaves would decorate such items as kids cradles, cots and chests. The furniture was very exquisite renditions of nature and was more than often created by men. Smaller items such as spoons, stools and musical instruments all featured carved patterns that made each and every item a work of art. In a small town called Tryavna, there is a school that was known as the epicentre of woodcarving.
If you have enjoyed reading about the different arts and crafts in Bulgarian Culture check out our Vlogs from the trips and my delicious recipes on traditional meals.