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Festival tells beautiful story of Chiprovtsi carpets

БНР Новини

More than three centuries ago, scribe Peter Bogdan called Chiprovtsi the "Flower of Bulgaria" because the gentlest flowers in nature were seen in the traditional Chiprovtsi carpets.

These days the beautiful works of weavers from the mountain town can be seen in museums throughout Europe and in the homes of connoisseurs from all over the world. Unfortunately, the day when the craft would die off with the silence of the last loom does not seem far away.


Spinning of the thread, winding of the yarn and weaving of the rug can be seen by visitors to the Chiprovtsi Carpet Festival, which is held on May 5th and 6th in the town of Chiprovtsi. An outdoor exhibition and a weaving contest are other interesting events in the program.


“Students from the National Academy of Art will present a fashion show with clothes, having ornaments that are typical of the Chiprovtsi rugs,” says Anita Komitska, head of the historical museum of the town. "There will also be carpets, small souvenirs and traditional craftsmanship items on sale, showing traditions can be preserved in various ways. During the first day of the festival we will present a film about the Chiprovtsi carpet by Iranian director Javad Daneshvar and cameraman Petar Petrov. In this way, we will look for analogies with the carpets of the East, keeping in mind that the word we use for this type of fabric (‘kilim’) had come from Persia.”


The first Chiprovtsi rugs were woven back in the 17th century, and the craft flourished during the Bulgarian National Revival (18th and 19th centuries).

“In ethnology there are two opinions arguing about the beginnings of the Chiprovtsi rugs,” Anita Komitska says. "In the past it was thought that the people of Chiprovtsi learned to weave carpets after the Chiprovsti Uprising of 1688 when they fled to villages around Pirot and learned this craft there. But this view has been fading away as today we are talking about Eastern Bulgarian and Western Bulgarian styles of kilim weaving. Rugs from Kotel are of the eastern type and rugs of the western type are those from Chiprovtsi, Pirot, Prilep, Ohrid, Tsaribrod, Samokov, which have identical ornaments and colors. However, we can not claim that the style of the Chiprovsti carpet is borrowed from Pirot, because one of its oldest motifs - the so-called ‘karakachka’ dates back to times before the 17 century and cannot be seen in rugs from Pirot. That is why we can talk about development of nearby centers of this craft and about mutual influences.”

Pirot Rug, „karakachka” and „Bakamski” type of carpet

Women behind the loom, whether a few centuries ago or today, who put their soul, heart and thoughts into making the rug, can be called masters of the craft, says the museum's director, recalling changes that the Chiprovtsi rug has undergone over the centuries.


In the oldest period of history of weaving we have paler tones - earth ochre or blue, which were achieved with natural paints and not only provided color durability but also softness. These carpets are characterized by a basic field and one or several curbs filled with geometric motifs. The second stage is called ‘decorative’ as the Chiprovtsi carpets were enriched with more colors and motifs such as the tree of life, the spring and autumn vine, branches with birds, many ancient symbols. The beginning of the 20th century led to an ornamental period in the development of rug making with small and rhythmically repetitive motifs and with brighter colors because of the use of chemical dyes. This type of carpet continues to be produced to this day.”

The Tree of Life, Spring Vine and Autumn Vine

However, rug weaving has been becoming increasingly rare and traditions have been fading away, Anita Komitska says. However, she hopes that Bulgarians would start to appreciate better the value of the Chiprovstsi carpet, not just because of its beauty but also because of the big number of symbols of goodness and prosperity it contains.

English: Alexander Markov

Photos: ich.unesco.org и chiprovtsi.bg
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