Bulgarian Folk Arts and Crafts    
  Earthenware

Pitcher "krondir" (wedding wine vessel, Berkovitsa region, early 20th century

 

Pitcher "krondir"(wedding wine vessel) from Bansko, late 19th century

 

Ceramic pot "rukatka", food container from Kiustendil, early 20th century

 

Ceramic brandy flask from Samokov, early 20th century

 

Pitcher "stomna" (water vessel) from Bozhentzi, Gabrovo region, early 20th century

 

Pitcher (stomna), Plovdiv, 20th century

 

Ceramic colander

 

Ceramic wine vessel

 

Earthen bowl

 

Earthen jar, Plovdiv, 20th century

 

The ancient origin and well-established regional characteristics of  Bulgarian pottery-making can be seen in the shape, decoration and execution techniques of folk ceramics.

According to Bulgarian folk mythology, the potter's work is sacred. It was believed that the mastering of this craft was a mystery, jealously kept within the family. As late as the 18th-19th centuries this generally accepted rule was broken and "outsiders" were admitted too.

By the beginning of the 19th century, there were already several major ceramics centers. Towards the mid-19th century this craft reached its zenith in the towns of Troyan, Gabrovo, Berkovitza, Razlog, Aitos, Chiprovtzi, the village of Boussintzi, and the Sofia region. The well-organized market in all parts of the country resulted in an interaction of techniques and artistic principles. Still, some of the regions retained their specific preferences for particular shapes, patterns of decoration and colours.

Functionally, earthenware adhered to the specific characteristics of copper vessels, very often with an identical form. Special-purpose pottery included the wedding wine-vessels (krondiri), wedding brandy flasks, carried in the waist-band, rukatki (vessels for carrying food to field toilers), etc.


Apart from pottery for everyday usage, potters used to make objects connected with Christian cults: baptismal fonts, holy water bowls, censers.


Some pieces are unornamented and without glaze. Others, however, like pitchers, dishes, krondiri, bowls are genuine works of art. They were decorated using mineral dyes known as early as the Middle Ages: yellow, green, brown, and red. Ceramics from Chiprovtzi are executed in the different nuances of yellow and green, while the Troyan pottery technique consists in letting drops, in white and brown, trickle down the pot surface.

During the Revival, the medieval decorative technique of sgraffito ceramics was still alive in the Turnovo region.

 

There are also some items with plastic decoration. In this case the ornament is separately stuck to the body of the pot. The designs complied with the general folk traditions deeply rooted in folk beliefs. The magic function of ceramics was achieved both through the representations of snakes, rosettes, concentric circles or crosses and through the colours used. Thus, for example, charms could be made only in a green bowl, while people suffering from "samodival illness" used to drink water only from a little green krondir.

Earthenware

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source material:

1. Traditional Bulgarian Costumes and Folk Arts. National Ethnographic Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Compiled by Viara Kovacheva-Kostadinova, Maria Sarafova, Marina Cherkezova, Nadezhda Teneva. Sofia, 1994.

2. Ethnographic Museum Plovdiv. Compiled by Anka Radeva, Lora Hristozova, Raina Kableshkova, Sonya Semerdjieva, Angel Yankov, Stoyan Antonov, Valentin Manev. Vion Publishing House, 2004.