Bulgarian Folk Arts and Crafts

 

Textiles


Diplo (dowry), 19th-20th CC

Smaller textile Products: Towels, Bags, Aprons, Cushions/Pillows

Rugs

Religious Pieces

The Bulgarian tradition of home-made fabrics is century-old. Home weaving was practised as late as the mid 20th century. The diversity of items preserved betrays an ancient, and widespread weaving tradition. It was the women in the household who were the "authors" of this craft and it was they who handed it down to the next generations.

The variety of traditional Bulgarian folk textiles derived from both the family's everyday needs and festive occasions. They included woollen and cotton textiles for clothes, aprons, and waist-bands, various household items like rugs, carpets, pillows, towels, bags/sacks, swaddling clothes, baby slings, etc.

Textiles played an important part in many Bulgarian rituals (especially weddings and funerals). For example, towels were given as presents to the wedding guests. On the wedding day in some places the mother-in-law would give a pillow to the newly married couple who were expected to sleep on it during their first night - in order to make their love last long. The  horse packsaddle was covered with a rug. There was a custom prescribing that the young couple should step over a brand new red waist-band spread on the ground, to dispel evil forces. When welcomed at the bridegroom's house, the newly-married used to step on a white cloth, to secure a bright future. On entering the house, the mother-in-law would throw a waist-band on their necks as a token - wish for a long life together, family agreement, and numerous offspring. Towels were commonly given to those attending at funerals. The dead person was usually covered with white home-made cotton cloth.

By tradition, an industrious  girl  was expected "to spin thin and weave thick". After a hard day on the farm, women used to sit at the loom lighted only by the fireplace or a paraffin lamp. The quality and quantity of the items they produced were marks of their being mindful and diligent housewives.

 

 

 

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.