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The craft "Pottery", part 2


Continuation of Part 1

Българското грънчарство

Over the centuries, techniques have improved, styles, shapes and decorations have been enriched, and pottery is no longer just a craft that provides people with basic necessities. The form and decoration of modern pottery establishes the continuous tradition of the first centuries of the Bulgarian state and the Balkan Peninsula. There are no traces of the characteristic features of ancient Greek and Roman pottery. Medieval pottery finds in Veliko Tarnovo and other places of representative table pottery speak of the establishment of a lasting national style in this regard.

Българското грънчарство

The decoration of ceramic vessels and objects is circumferential, linear, rarely figural, with white or colored engobe - clay with which the ceramic work is plastered before being placed in the kiln. Ceramic ornamentation is usually geometric and floral, expressed from ancient times with primitive drawings in vertical or horizontal lines and hooks, handwritten or obtained by derived white paint. The flooding of the vessel with paint, its flow freely in stripes on the entire surface of the vessel, whereby its main color remains visible in places, reaches its perfection in the Trojan master potters.

There are three main ways to add decoration to finished dishes: decorating by engraving, by coloring and color painting, and by modeling and applying additional figures. Very often these three methods can be seen combined on the walls of pottery.

The engraving, also called pattern, scratched patterns, is ring-shaped and free. At the circumference, straight lines or strips of several parallel lines are drawn around the vessel, drawn with a comb or any toothed rod. Wavy lines and stripes are drawn in the same way. When the potter's wheel rotates, inclined arcuate and other forms of scratches are drawn. In some vessels, mainly pitchers and cronders, the drawn bundles of stripes are as wide as necklaces around their necks or concentric in the case of lenticular vessels. On the edges of the vessels, notches, breaks, etc. are applied.

Figures of flowers, birds and other animals, and in rare cases people, are also drawn with free engraving. This way of decoration has an extremely artistic and decorative character, completely opposite to the primary decoration of the holiday cakes.

The engraved ornamentation on the Bulgarian pottery works is a consistent heritage from the Old Slavic times, mainly in the bundled circular designs. As for the figurative images of geometric and other nature, they reflect the influence of medieval art in the Balkans. In the capital of the Second Bulgarian State (XII - XIV century) Tarnovo, the ceramics decorated in this way, mostly dishes, were mass-produced. This tradition reaches a relatively new time (XIX century) among the old potters in Gabrovo, Teteven, Troyan, Berkovitsa and Transko.

In more recent times, the decoration with colored clays significantly displaces engraving. Colored circular linear drawings appear. Colored glazes occupy almost the entire outer area of ​​the vessels, arranged in harmonious combinations in certain rows and stripes, and more and more often these stripes are disturbed by dragging the tones in one direction. As a result, they merge and give a special variety and movement. This way of decoration is one of the most common in contemporary Bulgarian pottery.

Regarding the coloring in the art of pottery, it can be said that three tones predominate: red, green and yellow. The blue is completely absent. Yellow is automatically obtained from the engobe when covered with a colorless glaze.

The modeled (sculpted) decoration in the Bulgarian pottery works appeared in the 19th century under foreign influence and was intended for the urban circles. It consists mainly of applied rosettes, leaves, bunches, human and animal figures. They are almost always uniformly glazed. The vessels with this type of decoration were mass-produced in connection with the First Exhibition in Plovdiv in 1892. This “craftsmanship has nothing to do with traditional pottery, as well as the various children's pottery toys made with molds at the same time.

Bulgarian folk ceramics can hardly be classified due to the versatility of some of its products. It is divided into: kitchen utensils (pots, pots, pans, pots); tableware (pitchers, jugs, cups, bowls, cronders); ritual vessels (wedding vessels and crondors, cradle bowls, incense burners, baptismal fonts, etc.); household utensils (paint cans, tars, smokers and bee feeders, lids and pots for brewing brandy); food storage containers (cups, jars, pots, vinegar, etc.). In addition, pots, vases, water pipes, chimney caps and much more are made.

Author: Stefan Bonev

Sources: Hr. Vakarelski, "Ethnography of Bulgaria"


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