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The craft "Pottery", part 1


"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his

nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Gen. 2: 7).

We came from the earth and return to the earth as soon as we walk our life path, which is destined for us. And not in the genes, but right in our souls is set to worship the clay, to worship it and to officiate with it. From clay we sculpted the first deities we worshiped, as well as the first vessels from which we drank water and wine and in which we prepared our food. We lived in clay houses to finally leave our dust in clay urns. Pottery has long been considered a sacred occupation in the Bulgarian lands. For centuries, in the minds of Bulgarians, this craft has been shrouded in a dark cloud of mystery and mysticism. In the evening by the hearth, scary stories were told of light and dark spells embedded in purchased, wedding cronders and incense burners, and even in the most ordinary water jugs. From the naughty flames of the fireplace, the pots on the shelves danced a frightening dance with their shadows. These vessels had to heal or make sick, to fall in love or fall out of love, to make a man appear or nothing be born… For centuries, pottery has been passed down from generation to generation - only within the genus. They had to touch each other from above so you could deal with it.

Българското грънчарство

Evidence that pottery is one of the first crafts in our country, is everywhere. Among the oldest archeological finds discovered in the Bulgarian lands are pieces, as well as whole clay products. On the territory of today's Bulgaria ceramics appeared during the Middle Neolithic. Thracian pottery was mostly household. The ancient Thracians used the hand potter's wheel. Among the Slavs, pottery was represented mainly by food utensils and burial urns. Proto-Bulgarians also knew how to make pottery before coming to the Balkan Peninsula.

Българското грънчарство

The processes among the Slavic, Proto-Bulgarian and Thracian ethnic groups and the development of the productive forces have led to mutual enrichment and establishment of a common type of pottery. The results of this process were especially clear in the ninth century. Although the vessels were made on a hand-made potter's wheel, their shapes and decorations were significantly varied and improved, and they were baked in two-chamber pottery kilns. The technology of making this type of ceramics goes through several stages. In our lands, the soil from which the vessels are made bore different names: clay, rotten, earth, mud. After digging it, it was left to weather (burn) in the sun for 10-15 days, until it disintegrated into small pieces. It was then placed in a special trap called a rotter, where it was wetted and stored for work. The kneading was done by watering it and trampling it barefoot.

The further processing of the clay and the making of the ceramic vessels took place in the pottery workshop. Most often she was on the ground floor of the potter's apartment. There, always in front of the window, was the wooden counter to which the potter's wheel was attached. There was also a shelf for tools and large shelves - scaffolding for drying raw dishes.

The potter's wheel also has many names in different parts of Bulgaria: wheel (Busintsi, Berkovitsa), camp (Samokov region), step (Northeastern Bulgaria) and chark (Razlog region). It consists of two disks mounted in parallel on the same axis. The lower one is larger and is used to rotate the shaft, and through it the upper disk. The drive is done with the feet. The axis is called the spindle. On the upper disk the master makes the desired objects, placing the already kneaded clay and giving it the desired appearance. This is done by the left hand holding the still unformed object inside and the right hand sculpting the vessel from the outside.

After making them, the dishes are dried in the shade, usually in the workshop, and then baked. There are two types of pottery kilns: round and fourth. Both have at their base a hearth with a door. Most often it is dug into the ground. The overgrown part, called the tub, is usually higher and narrower towards the top, like a truncated pyramid or truncated cone. On one of its sides, high above the bottom, there is a door for putting and removing the dishes.

Baking is done by stacking the dishes on top of each other with the holes facing down, placing the largest on the bottom. The tub door is plastered. Heating is done gradually so as not to crack the dishes. This takes about 24 hours. After baking, some dishes are smeared with glaze and baked again for 10-16 hours. Without glaze are some pitchers, which are preferred in summer because the water in them is kept cold. Most often, containers with glaze are produced only on the outside or inside. The glazing on the outside of the products is mainly for aesthetic reasons, and on the inside - for practical reasons. Dishes that are intended for preparing or placing dishes (pots, pots, pots, bowls, dishes, etc.) have a glaze inside. This makes them easier to wash. Such vessels are not irrigated by the different in taste and smell contents.

Author: Stefan Bonev

Sources: Hr. Vakarelski, "Ethnography of Bulgaria"

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