Bulgarians adopted sgraffito pottery in the12th century from Byzantium, which, in turn, had borrowed it from the Middle East only several decades earlier. Sgraffito is a technique of decorating pottery, which includes several steps. The first step is to cover the pot with a white or pale rose engobe. When it dries, the desired motifs and ornaments are engraved in the engobe and the pot is fired. Finally, an outer slip is made of transparent and coloured glazing and the pot is once again fired in a furnace.
In medieval Bulgaria, unlike other countries, sgraffito ceramics was not applied only to objects of luxury. In spite of its high functional and aesthetic qualities, it was often, and abundantly, found both in royal palaces and peasant houses. What is more, people used it both at their tables, and for wall decoration - the way connoisseurs and collectors do in our days.
The specific charm of sgraffito pottery is due to the fantasy and feeling for the beautiful implied in its making. Its ornaments represent intricate interlaces of geometrical, vegetal and animal motifs - trees, twigs, fruits, birds, fishes, lions, peacocks, griffins and other mythical creatures. It is noteworthy that ornamentation in the Bulgarian sgraffito is an almost complete analogue of medieval painting, wood-carving, rug-weaving, etc., where similar patterns, colours, stylized figures and interpretations are used. All of them are absolutely genuine, original emanations of the Bulgarian taste and conception of the world.
In our days sgraffito shines in the works of the modern masters.