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Costume calendars 2018


"Devoyko, mari, hubava" 2018

The Clothing of Bulgarian Women – Symbolism and Magic.

In folk culture clothing is regarded as a double of the person. In Bulgaria traditional women’s clothing is called „nosiya“ from the verb „nosya“ – to wear. The festive clothing is called „premyana“ (from the verb „to change“) and it has a distinctive ritual meaning. Every new „beginning“ – baptizing, transition from a child to a young woman, wedding or death – is marked with a new „premyana“. Getting married is a supreme moment in woman’s life. It is marked with multiple symbols, the most prominent among which is the wedding clothing. It is richly ornate not only in terms of garment, but also because of the complementary decoration and jewels. Some of the top women’s clothes can be put on for the first time in the wedding day and can be worn only after the wedding. Clothing is a symbolic boundary between the body and the outer world. Thus, some of its elements, which are inherited from the old woman’s costume like shirt, belt and apron, have apotropaic functions. The axil, sleeves and the brim of the skirts are decorated with embroidery, because it is there where evil forces could enter and harm the woman. The apron is in the front and it is the most visible and colourful part of the clothing. Enhanced with a belt and buckles, it is a powerful apotropaic symbol and dispels evil. The headscarf is a sign of age and social status worn by married women. It is believed to possess the strength and fertility of the woman. That is why the headscarf is an object of the worst magic spells. Jewellery is always an important complement of the costume which has not only decorative, but also functional designation. In medieval imagery – murals and miniatures, jewellery reveal the social status of their owners. Aristocrats and wealthy people wear richly decorated jewels made of precious metals. Other people have copper or bronze ornaments, which are sometimes gilded. The Ottoman invasion in Bulgarian lands lead to a change in local culture and traditions. The jewel was no longer a social separator, indicating the status of its owner – whether he is a ruler or an ordinary person – it became accessible to everybody.


Grozdelina Georgieva – Savatinova, curator, Plovdiv Regional Ethnographic Museum

The Live Roots of Bulgaria Foundation


"Madonna of Kyustendil" 2018

This project was implemented with the kind assistance of the Regional History Museum "Acad. Yordan Ivanov ”- Kyustendil


The traditional Kyustendil saya

Bulgarian traditional folk clothing is characterized by inexhaustible variety, aesthetics, practicality, movement of lines, skillful combination of shapes, color "consonances" woven into ornamentation, achieved combinations and decoration.

Along with its utilitarian function, clothing is a sign of nationality, place of residence, gender, marital and social status, occupation, religion. It is believed that women's costumes more clearly reflect age and marital status, and men's - material and social status.

The garment radiates beauty, evokes certain attitudes and feelings, and is loaded with symbolic functionality.

The narrow waist, accentuated by the belt, the loose skirts, the wide sleeveful sleeves of the shirt, the richly ornamented tinsel and the embroidered decoration of the outer garment, give a unique charm to the Bulgarian woman. She is disguised and dressed in her costume. Many travelers in our lands in the XV-XIX centuries were impressed not only by its physical beauty, but also by its "decorated" appearance.


The women's costume in the Kyustendil region is of the "saya" type. It consists of a shirt, shirt, belt, apron, lap, socks.

  • Sayata is open at the front along the entire length, with short elbow sleeves. There is also a long-sleeved sai in the Pianets region. Sayata puts on her shirt. It fastens above the waist, is free at the bottom, long below the knees, the armpit is oval. The winter soybean is made of shayak - home-woven woolen cloth, called "parteno" / in Kamenitza / or "brudnitsi" / in Pianets /, and the summer - of woven cotton cloth in white, black and green. At the earliest, the white sai stops being worn. It is also wedding, it is also called "govealna". In the first decades of the XX century the festive sai were sewn from black or green factory fabric, giving the name of the sai - "kazmir". The decoration is made of multicolored braids and braids, known as "arch", of twisted woolen or silk threads, called "bikme" at the sleeves and the armpit. In the 1930s and 1940s, the "bull" was replaced by a bull.

  • The main component to the suit is the shirt. It has a tunic-like cut, long, with wide sleeves. It was made in older times from hemp / tow / or "crossbreed" / hemp and cotton / canvas, and more recently - from cotton and silk / boiled and uncooked silk /. It features a variety of embroidery ornaments - stylized floral and geometric motifs with a predominant red color, located at the sleeves and skirts, which remain uncovered by the outer garment. The Kyustendil embroidery is made mainly with a sloping stitch and belongs to the miniature embroidery. The main color is red, and black is used to outline the contours. The presence of embroidery is illustrated as an insurmountable barrier against evil. In the folk belief, embroidery has the magical ability to bring health and prosperity to man. At the beginning of the 20th century, the embroideries were replaced by the so-called "buds" - a type of braid of cotton or silk threads on the skirts and sleeves of the shirt. By the 1920s, knitted and sewn lace became fashionable. Outerwear for married women, in the chronology of time, are the iris, the jube, the farm, the contosh.

  • The belt and the lap give a bright contrast to the saya. "Purple" / bright red wool / and "simen" / with tinsel, also called "wire" / belts, named after the color and type of weft, are widespread. The visible end of the belt is woven with alternating transverse colored stripes, with "twists" along the entire width, and the other end, which is wrapped close to the body, can also be with hemp threads. The apron is wrapped around the belt. It is one-layer, woolen, most often in red-orange tones, with decoration of horizontal multicolored stripes and "pick" and "precocious". In the 30s, 40s of the XX century the festive skirts were mostly purl / with white and yellow tinsel / with purl belts.

  • After the embroidery disappears from the shirt, the breastplates appear. They are most often silk or velvet. They are conceived as armor that protects female strength. The French traveler A. Pule in his travelogue from 1657-1658 wrote: "... they hang on a cordon / necklaces / just like mesals, they have cloth handkerchiefs on their chests, so covered with some of these coins that they hide everything underneath. , down to quite low. ” The headscarf is a cotton jasper, and from the 20s to the 30s of the XX century silk blowers were also worn. Brides and married women also wear scarves made of black factory fabric with fringe. An additional accessory to the sock costume are the home-knitted socks with patterns.


Folk costumes and their constituent elements are perceived by modern man as an exquisite relic, filled with artistic perfection and harmony that arouses admiration!

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