top of page

Bulgarian fabrics - traditions and development, part 5


THE UNIQUE STYLE OF BULGARIAN EMBROIDERY IS RECOGNIZED EVERYWHERE IN THE

WORLD

Slavic motifs are the basis of our vezmo, dotted with animals, flowers and geometric ornaments


"In our modernized valley, where every trace of the once beautiful clothes has long since disappeared, and miraculously only Elhovo remains to protect our old embroidery and to remind young and old what the former Bulgarian woman could have done. In the short time I stayed there , I was amazed by the endless variety of motifs and their countless variants: dozens of types of embroidery on "feather" skirts and each has its own name: "crooked crabs", "cherries", "white squirrel", "tassels", "small "," The three peppers "," mushenkeni "," snails "," kuduchenite "," krshiklonite ", etc., etc. And how do these nice names fit the embroiderers! Their sleeves - even more and even more diverse:" "dog's tracks", "cut roosters", "dragon's heads", with "snowflakes", without "snowflakes", "two twigs", "red chandeliers", "split tail" and, after all, "crow's feet" on which Belts: "chaprazi", "prusurnik", "green almond" and much more. "


Chudomir, "Village of Elhovo", (Published in the newspaper "Kazanlashka Iskra", issue 154 of 15.XII.1930)


Българските тъкани - традиции и развитие

The basis of Bulgarian embroidery are the Slavic elements, which clearly reveal its closeness and community with the characteristic features in the embroidery of related peoples. There are also traces of the influence of Byzantine and Oriental models, with which Bulgaria has had contact in its historical development. But these foreign ornaments are recreated in the Bulgarian style and have national originality and originality. According to its technical implementation, the traditional Bulgarian embroidery can be divided into two varieties: knitting by the number of threads of the fabric and the stitches, on the one hand, and knitting by preliminary drawing, on the other. The embroideries of the first variety have a wider application and greater diversity as artistic creativity (Veleva, 1983, 78 et seq.).

The embroidery is applied on fabrics of various origins, more often on cotton, linen, hemp, rarely silk, sometimes mixed and woolen. Ancient embroideries are made with woolen (small elements and silk) threads. The threads are drained in a special way - by hand, with a fork, with a needle and twisted to a degree consistent with the requirements of ornamentation. The embroidery machines are limited in number and device. A necessary device is the needle, called a seamstress or silkworm. Some embroideries also use a device called a embroidery frame, which is used to stretch or narrow the field of the embroidery fabric. Bulgarian knitters use a variety of stitches, which can be grouped into several sections, depending on the orientation of the embroidery thread relative to the threads of the fabric: stitches that follow the direction of the fabric threads; stitches at an angle to the fabric threads; stitches that displace or tighten tissue fibers; stitches with looser outlines, but again under the number of threads. The stitches from each group can be in different combinations - simple, complex or combined.

Българските тъкани - традиции и развитие

From the different combinations a great variety is created in the technical execution of the embroideries: split, sloping, cross, frog and others. The richness of colors is great. The predominant color is red, but there are areas where it is completely replaced by black, navy blue and dark brown. The most common ornamentation is plant. The most common motifs are related to the vine, rose and stylization in rosette, tulip and carnation. The animal ornaments do not have separate regions, but overflow and intertwine with the ornamentation of the textile works throughout Bulgaria. The peacock, whose feathers are used not only for decoration but also against magic and lessons, is a favorite motif. In second place comes the rooster - a symbol of the sun, which is depicted in Samokov, Razgrad and Svishtov. Almost all types of insects are ornamented in the Bulgarian vezma: beetles, caterpillars, flies, bedbugs, spiders, bees and silkworm. The depiction of a horse and a horse's head is also associated with the sun. Along with these motifs are the images of a goat and a rabbit (on women's shirts in the Varna region). The bat is skillfully ornamented on the armpits of men's shirts among the trap population in the Razgrad region, and the depiction of a lizard protects the wearer of this tissue from snakes. (Koev, 1982, 30). Anthropomorphic (human) figures are found mainly in the Danube Bulgarian lands (Vidin, Nikopol and Ruse). The geometric ornament represents the last stage of the development of the decorative textile decoration. It is the end result of constant and gradual stylization. These elements cover all types of lines that form a square, a rhombus, a triangle, a polygon, various zigzags, broken lines, stars and rosettes.


Българските тъкани - традиции и развитие

The swastika as an ancient geometric ornament is found on the sleeves and armpits of women's shirts in Sofia, Transko, Dupnitsa, Lovech and on pillows from Karnobat (Koev, 1982, 66 et seq.). Traces of the three ethnic groups that entered the formation of the Bulgarian nation are coded in the traditional Bulgarian embroidery. The Thracian substrate can be traced in Sofia, Breznik, Pernik, Kyustendil, Trans, Dupnitsa, Samokov, Ihtiman, Sandanski and Petrich, and Slavo-Bulgarian - in Northern (Danube) and Southern Bulgaria (Marichina Thrace) (Koev, 1982, 68). Depending on the ornaments, color and technique of the Bulgarian embroidery, geographical areas have been differentiated: Ruse, Razgrad, Provadia (Serbian), Gabrovo, Lovech, Pleven, Nikopol, Vratsa, Vidin, Kul, Sofia, Graovo, Trun, Samokov-Ihtiman Dupnitsa, Kyustendil, Pirin, Karlovo, Kazanlak, Sliven, Elhovo, Rhodope, East Thracian and others. (Vakarelski, 1974, 722). Here are the most characteristic features of some of these embroideries: Ruse embroidery consists of zoomorphic and anthropomorphic, as well as stylized plant ornaments, the zoomorphic ones are located on the hem of the woman's shirt, while the plant ones are on the bosom and cuffs of the shirt sleeves.

Българските тъкани - традиции и развитие

The predominant stitch is the nodal and the main tone is orange. Vidin embroidery is typical with its miniatureness and geometric ornaments located on the bosom and cuffs of the shirt. The ornaments are asymmetrically and obliquely arranged. Its colors are pale pink and pale red, and sometimes pale yellow. Vidin embroidery is framed, and each ornament is placed in a positive frame. Samokov embroidery is characterized by plant ornaments that are symmetrically arranged. The predominant color is red, which is balanced with green, blue, yellow, brown. The inclined stitch in the Samokov and Dupnitsa embroidery is considered by some specialists to be an eastern (oriental) borrowing. The markings of the ornaments in the Bulgarian embroidery, as well as the technical techniques in it, indicate a deep native tradition, attested by foreign travelers who passed through Bulgaria during the period from the 16th to the 19th century. They were impressed by the rich and beautiful embroidery on the rough hemp fabric of women's shirts. The past of the Bulgarian embroidery is illuminated in a comparative ethnographic way. It is not insignificant the presence of the better or less well-preserved geometric embroidery, made with the pseudo-textile split stitch, as it is with almost all other Slavs. This speaks of an ancient all-Slavic technique. The strong geometrization and schematization in the embroidery leads to the same beginning. The great ornamental, colorful and compositional richness of this embroidery is not limited to this finding. However, there is no denying the legacy of the embroidery art of the proto-Bulgarians in some models in Southern Macedonia and Sofia, as well as a newer, oriental influence strongly transformed on Bulgarian soil.



Author: Stefan Bonev

Sources: Hr. Vakarelski, "Ethnography of Bulgaria"




Comments


bottom of page