This is the last installment of my series on the overview of Bulgarian costume. This covers the south of the country, specifically the cultural regions of Pirin and Rodop [Rhodope].
This includes the oblasts of Blagoevgrad, Smoljan and Krdzhali, as well as the southern parts of the oblasts of Pazardzik and Khaskovo.
The majority of the costumes of this region are of the saya type, with just a couple locations having the sukman type.
This is Bulgarian Macedonia. The borders do not exactly match the extent of the Pirin cultural region, as I would exclude both of the eastern corners, but it is close enough.
Pirin mountain lies in the center of this oblast, which thus is naturally divided into four districts. In the northeast, Razlog district, in the northwest, Blagoevgrad district, in the southwest, Sandanski district, and in the southeast, Gotse Delchev district.
This district lies in the northeast, and the costume shows some similarity with those of Thrace.
The costume of this district is of the saya type, and belongs firmly in the Macedonian tradition. This is often presented as the most representative of Pirin Macedonia.
Gotse Delchev district
The costumes in this district are also of the saya type.
There are two major types of costume worn in this district. The first greatly resembles the typical Macedonian costume and is found in the west and the north.
These two images are labelled as being from the Nevrokop district, which is the old name for Gotse Delchev.
This village is in the northwest of the district.
This village is found in the northeast of this district.
This village is found in the southwest of the district.
The second type of costume is influenced by Turkish costume, having bloomers and a saya with a more Turkish cut, as well as being made of textiles of a Turkish style. This costume is worn in the southeast, in the Rhodope mountains, as well as in some Bulgarian Muslim villages.
This village is in the southeast of the district and has a mixed Muslim/Christian population.
This village is found even further east than Dolen, up in the mountains. It also has a mixed Muslim/Christian population.
This village is in northwest Gotse Delchev district, but is majority Muslim. This is reflected in the costume.
The Rhodope mountains were strongly associated with Orpheus, the master musician of myth. This region is still known for its singers and the lyricism of its music. Whereas in most of Bulgaria women are known for singing and men for dancing, the men in the Rodop region sing as much as the women do.
The cultural region of Rodop includes Smolyan and Krdzhali oblasts, as well as the southern extensions of Plovdiv and Khaskovo oblasts.
Here is a video introducing the singing and music of the Rhodopes, the kaba gaida, the laments, the songs and dances.
The costume of this oblast is often used to represent the Rodopes and Bulgaria in general, even though it is very distinctive.
The costume worn in the Smoljan district is of the sukman type.
The costume continued to develop in the 20th cent., acquiring a jacket with couched cord ornament. Sometimes two jackets were worn on top of each other. This is the costume which is usually seen today.
This photo is from the village of Yagodina.
Here is a half hour presentation of music and dance from the village of Stoykite
This is an example of solo singing, one of the long slow songs which the Bulgarians love.
The Moslem community, known as Pomaks, have a distinctly different costume, based on the saya.
Krdzhali oblast Кърджали
This area has the saya style costume mostly. In the east, there are some examples of the sukman costume.
Starting from the north and moving counterclockwise around the province:
This is a Turkish village
Ustren or Ustra
- We have reached the southwest corner of Krdhzali province.
This is a Turkish village
This is a Turkish village.
These are everyday costumes
We have reached the southeast corner of Krdzhali province.
This is in east central Krdzhali province, and is a Turkish village.
This is in northeast Krdzhali province, and is also a Turkish village.
This next set of villages are found in the southern arm of Khaskovo province, which is
considered to be part of the Rhodope cultural area. I will cover them from north to south.
This is another example of a town costume
This was formerly a village which has become a quarter of Ivaylovgrad town. This is a more of a folk costume.
This looks like another town costume.
This is an Albanian village, the only one in Bulgaria.
The next three villages, while considered to be part of the Rhodope cultural region, are found on the Greek side of the present border. Their Bulgarian population was resettled in Bulgaria, and the villages no longer exist.
The first two were found to the northeast of the Greek city of Komotini Κομοτηνή, in Turkish Gümülcine.
The first image is of a bride.
This last village was found in the vicinity of the Greek town of Soufli Σουφλί, which lies at the eastern edge of Greece by the Turkish border.