Along with language and folk song
traditions, the national costumes are a specific cultural characteristic of
the Bulgarian people.
Present both in everyday life and on various
festive occasions, Bulgarian folk costumes were where the physical
and the spiritual met; they were an essential element of the overall culture
system - from the cradle to the grave, from the baby's gown to the
burial attire made up of brand new garments or one's wedding outfit.
The traditional Bulgarian costumes took shape during the feudal ages and
kept developing over the following centuries.
The makeup of the traditional Bulgarian
costume is elaborate, one depending on the specific
conditions of work and the patriarchal way of life in the Bulgarian village.
Traditional costumes were entirely
home-made. They were the product of women's efforts, taste and creativity. Men's
involvement was only minor - in processes like tannery or sowing
together of the different parts.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, however, the
traditional home manufacture of clothes went along with the
differentiation of clothing
crafts, as well as with the appearance of tailor-made outer and top pieces
(of the men's costumes in particular).
Materials traditionally used in clothing
textiles were flax, hemp, wool, silk, and cotton. Leather was employed on a
narrow scale, mainly for making the typical Bulgarian footwear called
tsarvouli (a kind of sandals),
while furs were used for making kalpatsi (men's fur caps) - typical of men's
costumes worn in the mountain areas.
The main types of
women's clothes were: the
one apron costume,
soukman, and the saya.
Men's costumes were of the
belodreshna (predominantly white), or
chernodreshna (predominantly black) style.