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The crafts of the images


The folk genius is manifested in the painted carts, the painted Easter eggs, the wedding chests, in the spoons, cupboards, wheels and squirrels.

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"The master's hand trembled and withdrew, stopped for a moment in hesitation. What was studied in the glorious sharachinitsa of Tarnovgrad weighed relentlessly over the pure and direct conscience of the artist. The right, accustomed to the strict canon, did not dare to make a sacrilegious movement: to break the age-old laws, the experience layered for so many years."

Fani Popova-Mutafova, "The Last Asenovets (Boyana Master)

Folk applied painting is an artistic craft that was well developed in Bulgaria. Folk masters painted on the walls of churches, on bridal chests, on the walls of carts, on Easter eggs. The decoration of some folk dwellings by making a sill of clay is also a kind of folk applied painting (Vakarelski, 1974, 733).

Written wedding chests (chests) are interesting and rich objects with their own place in the history and development of Bulgarian applied art (Yordanova, 1974, 71 et seq.). Most often on them are painted flowers (alone or bouquets in a vase), stylized trees and shrubs. The year of the wedding or the production of the chest, the names of the newlyweds or the master are almost always written on the chests. The first Revival chests were imported from Brasov (Romania), but later the Bulgarians began to make them themselves. Bansko, Tryavna and Stara Zagora became centers of production and use. The drawings are executed with oil paints and reflect the artistic vision and the picturesque sense of the folk artist. Such a painted chest was an expensive gift for any girl who would become a bride. In it she is just the wedding gifts. The chests occupied a central place in the newlyweds' room.

The folk technology for making carpentry products for home use and production equipment - spoons, wall cupboards, wheelbarrows, hooks, etc., can be divided into two groups: a) cutting on a wooden board, pre-painted with lean paints. In this way, the ornaments that are carved after coloring have the natural color of the wood, and have the colored plane as a background; b) oil painting on primed wood. The elements found on this type of work are mainly from the plant world - cypresses, flowers, leaves in a compositional solution and strict symmetry.

The writing of the carts is a phenomenon for which conditions appeared during the Bulgarian Revival. Field research shows a borrowed cultural influence from Russia, Bessarabia and Romania. Originally written carts appeared in Northeastern Bulgaria (Silistra, Dobrich), where they spread to other parts of the country. Adopted once by the Bulgarian master drivers, this phenomenon acquires its Bulgarian color and content, which becomes an element of folk culture, described by Yordan Yovkov in his story "The Song of the Wheels".

It is difficult to delineate areas of certain motifs used in the decoration of the cart, as the decorative layout of each is in most cases the fruit of the individual artistic abilities and tastes of each master, on the one hand, and the wishes of the user, on the other.

The oldest depicted figures, less and less common today, are geometric figures: circle, triangle, rectangle, truncated trapezoid, broken lines. They are usually used for the frames of the chest or bottoms, and other ornaments are placed inside them. The heart-shaped figure, in which the folk artist then paints various plant ornaments, should also be referred to the framed figures. Zoomorphic ones are common: a lion's head (alone or in combination with a snake), horse heads facing each other, or even whole horses and donkeys. However, the most common ornaments are plant. Twigs with leaves, buds, cereals, fruits (grapes, peaches, pears, apples), bouquets or flowers in vases are depicted. Tulips, roses, snowdrops, chrysanthemums, daisies, hyacinths, poppies are preferred.

The application of painting in the painting of eggs has become widespread among Bulgarians. The people call them "painted" or "washing" eggs. The egg is a symbol of life, fertility, health. Red eggs are painted on Easter. On this day, the children exchange eggs and measure their strength, and each child has a borouk - a wrestler, the healthiest egg.

The ornaments are painted with the help of melted wax, applied with a metal pen or a tube. The images have a rich design and versatile range: stripes such as embroidery, stylized human or geometric shapes, flowers, stars, etc. The mastery was manifested in the one-color painting of eggs. The Bulgarian woman widely used vegetable dyes: from quince leaves, from onion scales, which gave a dark red color, milk for yellow, lime color for beige, etc. It is also known to paint with salt and sulfur sourina. It is also practiced to glue multicolored threads on a parsley leaf. Sticking eggs with pictures is a new phenomenon, more typical for the city than for the village.

Murals and painting (iconography) are also part of folk art. There are wonderful examples of frescoes in the monastery churches: (Rila, Bachkovo, Preobrazhensky, the churches in the village of Arbanassi), and in the Revival houses (Koprivshtitsa, Karlovo, Arbanassi). As with woodcarving, schools were formed here, which left remarkable works of folk applied painting: Tarnovo, Tryavna and Samokov.

The Tarnovo Art School was established in the Middle Ages (XII - XIV century). The most famous of the preserved monuments of this school are: the frescoes from the boyar churches of Trapezitsa, in the church "St. 40 Martyrs ”(1230), in the Boyana Church (1259), in the rock church near the village of Ivanovo, Ruse region (XIV century), in the church“ St. Peter and Paul ”(end of the 14th century) in Tarnovo and others. The school perceives some of the main features of Constantinople painting from the XII - XIV century - the ancient corporeality of the figures, the movement of the stands, archaic landscape tones. It develops a monumental wall painting with the new for the era technique of tempera paints. In the painted churches, and especially in the Boyana one, the images reach a great psychological depth and humanity in the expression of the faces, a real portrait realism.

The Tryavna school developed during the Bulgarian Revival. Its formation is influenced by the old traditions of the Tarnovo Art School. The activity of the masters from this school covers the whole of Northern Bulgaria, passes to Romania, and to the south it reaches the Maritsa River and the Strandzha Mountains. The Tryavna painting school is above all an icon painting school. In the icons of the Tryavna masters greater creative freedom is manifested. Famous painters from Tryavna are those of Vitanovtsi, Zaharievtsi, Daskalovite, Minyovtsi and others.

The Samokov school is also an icon painting school, established at the end of the 18th century and reached its full flowering in the 19th century. Representatives of this school are the famous Zahari Zograf and Stanislav Dospevski. Samokov painters are influenced by Mount Athos painting, and bring their own interpretation to the images and plots of church painting. During the Renaissance, they began to paint secular, everyday subjects, portraits on canvas and wall. Works by master painters from this school can be found throughout Bulgaria, as well as outside the country - Mount Athos, Jerusalem, Serbia, Bosnia, Russia.

Author: Stefan Bonev

Sources: Hr. Vakarelski, "Ethnography of Bulgaria"

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