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A mummer from the town of Banya

A mummer in the house - according to old Bulgarian beliefs, it is for good. Its presence chases illnesses and evil energies. It brings heavenly signs, prosperity and fertility.

Maiden’s costume from Burgas region

With a colourful silk bunch of flowers in the maiden’s left hand, where the hearts beats. It is a sign of special attention, joyful hopes and good omens.

A dancing girl from Thrace.

Dance is communication. And the touch with the double-embroidered World Tree on the sukman made in the town of Elhovo, connects heaven, earth and the messages of the ancestors in a trinity. The feeling is completed by the sparkling sun motifs on the skirts and apron. This charges a person with heavenly energy and strength to master the three worlds in the traditional mythology of the Bulgarians.

A woman’s costume from Vidin region

The specific, extremely interesting, two-layered costume is complemented by a clay tray with two fish in the woman's hands. Both fish as phallic symbols are signs of bestowed by the Mother Goddess fertility, love, spiritual and earthly power.

A man’s costume from Vidin region

The white costume is the oldest in the Bulgarian lands. The cut of the white woolen outerwear, called “gluhche”, has the marks of unobtrusive dignity. The straight vertical black woolen braided seams are a sign of incorruptibility and firmness in standing up for views and decisions. The hem is the horizontal position of spiritual balance, of the masculine will and boldness.

A woman’s costume from Kyustendil region

The Sayana costume in Kyustendil region can be found as early as the 7th century, and up to the present day. The embroideries are made only with a slanting stitch, with traditional patterns: the horo dance, the cabbage type pattern, the ribs, the axes, the fir threes, the fingers, the thorns and etc. And the fruit basket is God's gift for health and prosperity.

A woman’s costume from Dobrudzha region

A woman from Dobrudzha region should not have a costume without wheat-ears. There is a custom that still exists today, a magic for more fertility - "Beard cutting", these are the largest wheat-ears of the field. In folk belief, the "beard" is a symbol of "fertile wisdom". The harvest ended with a "beard" and special ritual actions. This is followed by a ritual washing of the hands of the women - reapers and cutting off the "beard", which shall be done by the best maiden with a single cut. Then the reapers leave for the village, saying goodbye to the field. “Goodbye, field, may there be bigger ears, more blessings next year so we will reap you again!”. A young woman who has a fiancé and a wedding follows in the autumn carries the “beard” on the way to the village, so that it will bring luck to the bride and to the village.

A woman’s costume from the village of Rusalya, Veliko Tarnovo region

The stylized woman’s holiday costume represents not only the main female activity - spinning. According to folk beliefs, when you spin the fiber, the woman performs magic cosmic fate and predictions for the future of this thread. For what cloth, for what garment or needlework, and above all, for whom she spins it. Therefore, in mythology, the enchantresses of the newborn child spin and destine their future. This is how it was bequeathed – there shall not be a house without a spindle and a distaff, preferably... both.

A woman’s costume from Razlog region

The interesting part of this costume is not only in the embroidered roses of the socks. They are also on the fabric bundle /sling/, with the baby on the back - one of the oldest Bulgarian patents of our revival culture. The apron with the fragmented images of triangles in the male direction - to the right and up - is interesting. This suggests that the 40 days of the young mother are past. The woman has "jumped over" the dangers of the difficult birth period and, together with the child, confidently moves towards her future. This is also emphasized by the three-color bunch of flowers, which she firmly holds in her hands, a sign of the World Cosmic Tree, uniting the three worlds of world knowledge.

A man’s costume from the Rhodopes

The men's costume is dark, and the kaba bagpipe is a signature instrument of this region. It is the sound equivalent of the mountain. The word "kaba" comes from the Persian language and means "thick", "deep-toned". It is in this feature that the charm of the Rhodope bagpipe lies. Its voice is thick, deep and... noble. And there is a legend about the boy who fell asleep under the shadow of a rock, when a huge viper came out of a crevice and crawled towards the boy. Stones rolled and woke the bagpiper from his dream. He was stressed - there was nowhere to run, only rocks were around. Rigid with fear, he started playing, and the snake froze against him. He played melodies - for three days and three nights his music did not stop. The monstrous snake slowly hid its poisonous tongue and while listening, it fell asleep on the third night. As soon as he noticed that the snake was sleeping, the piper jumped up and nimbly went down the slopes of the Rhodopes. No one ever knew where he went after that. But the people of the Rhodopes kept in their memory his wonderful long melodies, which still live today in their wonderful songs.

A woman’s costume from the Rhodopes

A woman from the Rhodopes! It is said that once upon a time, when God was walking among people, a man from the Rhodopes asked God to give him a good wife. God fulfilled his wish and told him: "I gave you the woman, but actually I gave you to her. I made you subject to her power to make you stronger. For you, the woman will be like the water in the river, which smooths the pebble, polishes its edges, gives it a more beautiful and gentle shape, and do not forget the woman is your mirror and your teacher! And you be her support! Let her love you and love her too! Open up to her, accept her. Let her conquer you. Because it is the only battle in life that can be won only when you lose it.”

Bridal costume from Pleven region

Traditional folk dress is displayed in a collection of tapestries of festive costumes and ornaments. The presented costume has a complex and rich embroidery decoration - plant, geometric and zoomorphic. The costume has two aprons and retains its antiquity until the beginning of the 20th century. It consists of: a shirt, front and back apron. Particularly beautiful is the veiling of the head with "Kaitsa", representing an old hat, which reflects the marital status of the woman. It is worn by the bride after the wedding and the first wedding night, when she begins to repent (keeps ritual silence). The Kaitsa is prepared by the mother-in-law with the help of the godmother. The collection of coins and beads /300 pcs. - the number of perfection/ is the duty of the groom's family. The bride shall wear the Kaitsa for 40 days after the wedding, regardless of the season, even during hard field work. After receiving forgiveness, the bride no longer wears the Kaitsa in everyday life, but only on holidays until the birth of the first child.

Lazarice costume from Plovdiv region

In a Plovdiv village there was a big gathering on Palm Sunday. From the neighboring village, a young woman Ruzha with her mother and her father left to see the fair. They walked and walked, the girl was thirsty and told his father that she would turn off the road to go to the serpent's well, to drink water. "Don't go, wait for a while, when we reach the village”, the father said “this place is evil." But the girl did not listen to the advice, turned off the road. Just as the girl bent down to drink, a dragon came and grabbed her and she eloped with him. Years passed. She felt homesick for home and for her family, so she asked the dragon to let her go so she could see her relatives. The dragon agreed and let her at the same time, at the same well. Then he flew away. But during the years she spent with the dragon, she grew a snake tail, and she first decided to get rid of it. She squirmed and tried to bite the tail to get away, but failed. She turned to the other side and tried again, but again failed. She began to throw herself madly here and there and still did not succeed, and she also heard the songs of the girls who were returning from the fair. Blood foam appeared on her lips, but the cursed tail remained in place. Out of horror that this is how her friends will see her - her heart burst. The girls found her this way, buried her there, and since then every year on this day they gathered at the well. They danced horo, but not in a circle, and twisted like a snake in honor of the maiden Ruzha-snake. The dance was called buenets, and the dancing girls - buenechki (lazarice).

A woman’s costume from the town of Sandanski region

The old people say that the winged creature lived in the mountains near Sandanski. But one day it descended to the place where horo was danced and stole the most beautiful maiden to make her his wife. But the kidnapped girl had a fighting Balkan spirit. She raised her hands against the dragon and set a condition - if she agreed to become a dragon's bride and gift him with devotion, in return the dragon would protect her birthplace. The beauty and nobility of the girl melted the heart of the monster, who decided that it is more worthy to be a protector of the weak than to be a villain and harm them. The dragon fell in love with the young woman so much that he agreed to live together in Sandanski. However, the people received the new resident with distrust. To convince them of his benevolence, the dragon touched the fountain in the center of the town with his palm, and hot, blessed water flowed out of it, which still gushes today.

Engagement costume from Sliven region

The tapestry presents a dignified female costume with the characteristic headpiece of this region - a head cloth, a crown and a striped kosichnik /headband/, with a feeling of superiority in social status. And this is emphasized by the way she presents a clay jug. The symbolism of the jug is related to the liquid it contains, but the horizontal stripes suggest the young woman's undisguised self-confidence in the horizon of her current existence. Therefore, the jug becomes a symbol of the mediation of matter in the spiritual ascension of the maiden.

Lazarice costume from Sofia region

Lazarice originates from the ancient Roman spring feasts of Rosalia. Some historians define it as a festival in honor of the goddess Flora and a solar-chthonic fertility cult. Especially interesting is the clothing of the lazarice, borrowed from brides with the fineries and the desire that after the holiday they will also become brides. The lazarices go around the homes, sing songs for each member of the family and dance, holding "Klaniachki" pieces of cloth in their hands. An old superstition says that a girl who has not become a lazarice cannot marry.

A bachelor costume from Sofia region

An apotropaic figure of a musician – rebec player. Gadulka/rebec/, also called kemene, kemenche or kopanka, is a musical instrument given to the world by the proto-Bulgarians. Hence the names of its constituent parts are of proto-Bulgarian origin. And the protective nature of the image is indicated by the twelve figures depicted on the knees of the young man's figure and especially the stitched triangles of the tight homespun breeches around the heel. According to old beliefs, the soul leaves the body through the heel, where death also enters. Therefore, the image protects against evil spells and brings good mood.

A dancing woman from the region of Strandzha

Strandzha - the mystical mountain, embraced by many secrets and unsolved mysteries. Legend has it that Strandzha was a beautiful young woman from a noble family. She dressed in beautiful clothes and danced in ecstasy where people dance horo in the village. Many candidates wanted to marry her, but she refused. One day many evil people appeared, led by a black man. The musicians fell silent in fear. The silence was broken by the cry of the girl from Strandzha "Let the music play!", then she started dancing ruchenitsa. And at that moment the earth shook and raised, and the sea and rivers raged. When everything quieted down, people saw that they were new mountains appeared, and there was no trace of the hostile people. So Strandzha stayed in her mountain, which took her name.

A man’s costume from Tran region

The kaval in Bulgarian mythology is a phallic symbol. The music of the kaval is sacred and symbolizes nature in its transitory and ever-changing aspect. The ancient sages believed that the music of the kaval unites man with nature, and "nature" also means with next to your relatives, with one's own.

A man’s costume from Haskovo region

The traditional costume for this region is with a yamurluk /hooded cloak/ cut into seven parts and a stick in the left hand. The ancient shamans carried a stick in their hands. And it is a multi-meaning symbol of the world axis, which enables the leader to master the passage through the worlds. In ancient Greece, a stick - a sign of power - was carried only by judges and generals. Let’s remember Prometheus who gave people fire by rubbing two sticks together. That is why the ancient people of the Bulgarian lands perceived the stick as a heavenly fiery phallus, fertilizing the earth, giving health and fertility.

Author of the collection: Rositca Bakalova

Author of the texts: Academician Prof. Dr. Nikolay Nikov