This exhibit reveals the splendour of Bulgarian Revival period jewels. Bulgarian women used them not only to adorn their clothing and rejoice the sight. Jewels were also believed to possess extraordinary powers to guard off bad spirits, to protect people from evil eye and to allure good luck, health and prosperity.
This perception of jewellery could be traced back since ancient times. Jewels have never ceased to be a whim, gift and of course, adornment. But they are also a claim for status and very often powerful spiritual guardians in important rites related to birth, death, engagement, marriage, holidays and everyday life.
All of these jewels are made in the traditional for Bulgarian goldsmithing techniques: casting, forging and filigree. These adornments are heavily decorated with granulation, encrustation, inlayed nacre and precious stones.
Jewels are indivisible part of the costume’s composition. Their lavished decoration and diversity are related to the historical and cultural background of the people who made and wore them. As an essential part of the traditional costume and its local specifics, jewels have played an important role in identity distribution, preservation and development.
Some of the most exquisite jewels are made of gilded sterling silver with tracery filigree. Here they are thematically distributed: buckles, belts, head adornments, necklaces, pectoral adornments, bracelets and rings.
Transition from village to urban lifestyle in Bulgaria at the end of XIX c. influenced significantly the development of jewellery craft. Jewels also changed with the distribution of Revival period urban costume. This exhibition shows both their chronological development and the Revival period Modern tendency towards combination of local traditions and foreign, Eastern and Western influences.
Each jewel has its own curious symbolic meaning. Location of jewels on the body is not accidental either. Small coins, beads and precious stones in head ornaments protect the wits. Gold coins and pectoral adornments protect the breath and the milk of young mothers. Buckles and belts protect childbearing and fertility.
Chief Curator — Angel Yankov
Exhibition Curator — Grozdelina Georgieva
Virtual Exhibit — Stefana Mincheva
Photographer — Yanko Kavrakov