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After a long pause potter's wheels in Busintsi are turning again

Photo: "Yellow House"

In the past there were over 300 potter's wheels in the village, but gradually the old traditions in Busintsi started disappearing. 10 years ago, the last master craftsman in the village passed away

The small village of Busintsi in western Bulgaria welcomes more and more people because it offers the opportunity to get acquainted with a forgotten tradition, which has been coming back to life. They pay a visit to the "Yellow House", where the workshop of Stefka Boneva is located. Here everyone can sit at the potter's wheel to feel the warmth of clay and try to create something, according to the rules of the Busintsi traditions in the craft and under the guidance of an experienced master. Vessels from the village are characterized by earthy tones - green, bright yellow, white, black. They were used in all types of daily activities. We can see various ornaments and symbols on them such as wheat, sun, spirals, dragon or snake heads, etc. "This is Bulgaria’s oldest pottery school. Unfortunately, this tradition has been dying out," Stefka Boneva, whose ancestors are from Busintsi, says.

"In recent years I have started spending more and more time in the village and I see how life here started to fade, especially after the death of the last master. My children and I have often found pieces of old vessels, because in the past in almost every house here there was a potter’s wheel and a craftsman. We come across pieces of pottery even on the street. We see beautiful sunny colors and some captivating patterns. That's how the idea to create our workshop ‘Srachkotilnitsa’ was born,” Stefka says.

She bought a beautiful old house with broken roof, but with a large fireplace, as it was once a workshop of a local craftsman. Its restoration took two years! Meanwhile, Stefka continued to study the traditions of the Busintsi school in depth, visit museums, read literature, and meet master craftsmen from all over the country. Many people started sending authentic Busintsi pottery from their collections to her. "I am lucky to work with people like me, who are eager to restore this craft," Stefka says. And adds that little by little, together with her followers, she has managed to put a faded puzzle together. They search for all possible described types of ceramic vessels, photograph them in detail and make replicas with the idea to pass this art on to future generations.

There is a Museum of Busintsi Ceramics in the village, which presents authentic vessels made more than 40 years ago. After visiting it, one can stop by at Stefka's workshop to test their skills in the craft or buy a beautiful plate or other ceramic vessel.

"Part of the house has been turned into a shop and a gallery. All vessels were made using a potter’s wheel as it was done centuries ago. We do not use molds. That is why our products are produced in limited quantities,” Stefka says.

At the moment, the yard of the "Yellow House" is being transformed into a children's educational center, where kids would get to know the secrets of the ancient craft and show their creativity.

Photos: The Yellow House

English: Alexander Markov

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