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“Christmas weaving loom” for children and curious adults

Unconventional path to traditional knowledge

You have to love children a lot to come up with a program like this. More than 200 workshops have already been conducted and it all started back in 2015. Quite in the spirit of modern life, children learn using their hands in order to feel the emotional touch of history. When it comes to historical tasks where many adults would fail, they easily solve them.

The place is the Regional Museum of History in Kyustendil where the traditional Christmas Weaving Loom for children and curious adults is upcoming. In the special corner of the Asclepius Hall, on December 12, 13 and 14th, visitors will be able to make beautiful fabrics themselves. They will also see interesting findings related to the craft, dating back to the 6th – 5th millennium BC. Before the invention of the spinning wheel people used ceramic vessels with inner handles. Such "revolving bowls" have been found in Egypt, Palestine and Greece. In Bulgaria, there have been three such vessels discovered and they date back to the 5th millennium BC. Two of them are from the region of Kyustendil. All this knowledge will be presented to children in the form of interesting games and puzzles, as they will learn skills passed down through the ages and thus absorb invaluable historical experience. The Christmas event is part of the Museum Workshop educational program, which is based on the simple fact that we have always been learning by using our hands.

“It is very important to give knowledge to children through practical activities, in order for them to experience the craftsmanship process and to follow the path of their ancestors,” Miroslava Taskova, who is responsible for public relations at the museum and is one of the initiators of the project, says.

“There is great interest from children, teachers and parents. The emphasis is on art and culture in ancient times. Some of the topics include the examination of individual artifacts exhibited in the museum. The program is complemented by educational books thanks to the ‘Alos’ Center for Non-Formal Education and Cultural Activity.

That is how we are building on the educational environment provided by the museum. In February, the topic is culture of food in ancient times and presents prehistoric and medieval artifacts found near Kyustendil, through which we tell about the way of life in past eras. In March, we focus on time measuring. We show a model of a furnace with engraved lunar-solar calendar from the 5th millennium BC, which is one of the oldest in Europe).

‘Games in Antiquity’ draws attention to a ceramic board, also from the 5th millennium BC. It has 16 holes on the surface and is obviously some kind of a game. Even more curious is the fact that we have found a modern equivalent to this game. There is even a mobile app for it. The rules are surprisingly well suited to our ancient artifacts. This way the game ‘comes to life’ for children. They make it out of clay and play with it later. In May, when we celebrate the Day of Bulgarian Culture and Slavic Alphabet, we are displaying prescriptive signs from the Copper Age. We have invented games using Glagolitic and Cyrillic and we show children the old printing techniques and title pages of old manuscripts.

Another important topic is ‘Carts and Decorations in Antiquity’. We put on display a beautiful two-wheeler from the 2nd century and we show the decoration in details, while children create decorations for a model horse harness. The last topic is about clothing, accessories, and weapons in antiquity. Through images we show characteristic costumes from our region and we also take a look at the Thracian war coat, called ‘zeira’”.

Symbolically closing the annual cycle, in the coming days children will be weaving on the Christmas loom. Guided by their imagination, they will combine today's aesthetics with ancient techniques. And they will start the New Year enriched and inspired by the history of their native land. 

English: Alexander Markov 

Photos: Regional Museum of History in Kyustendil and Albena Bezovska

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