Bulgarian weaving techniques and woven patterns

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Weaving with small boards (na kori), or small squares of leather (na kozhi)

This is a simple, ancient technique, which is a a transition between knitting and weaving as the  threads are not divided into warp and weft. Small squares of board (kora, or Romanian - scândura), or leather (kozhi) with a hole in each corner are used. The multicoloured warp threads are passed through these boards, while the weft threads are held on a bobbin. These squares, one to each colour, with usually 2 or 3 colours used, allow the weaver to twist the threads to create small geometrical patterns in stripes, or wavy lines. Fabrics made this way were used for narrow belts, braids, or apron ties which can have flat, rounded or square cross sections. This technique was found in northern Bulgaria, the Central Rhodopes, Sofia region and along the eastern slopes of the Stara Planina.

Weaving using a loom

Woven cloth was produced at home using two types of loom: horizontal and vertical until the mid 20th century. In the north cloth for aprons was frequently woven using the izryvane technique which involved using a hempen warp and woollen weft, with the weft woven so closely that the warp threads were not visible. Cotton warp was also used with a weft made of a mix of cotton and woollen factory spun yarn.

The cloth could be plain coloured, or decorated with patterns woven in the loom. The simplest form of decoration were woven stripes. More complex patterns were made by the addition of woven motifs worked during the process of weaving the fabric.  These motifs were made by using several different techniques:

1) Kussane technique (kussove = pieces) - smooth motifs

This technique was found all over Bulgaria and was used for decorating fabrics destined for making into clothing.  Kussane motifs were made by breaking off the weft threads in one row, which differed in colour from those in the next row, so they formed isolated patterns. Kussane were made by hand on a horizontal loom and  blended in with the fabric giving a smooth look. The ornaments are called kussove (bits), kusslentsa (little bits), or kussanki worked.

It was used for women's double apron costumes in northern Bulgaria,  and on aprons, headscarves, waistbands, belts, and soukman in the south east (Sliven, Yambol, Karnobat, and Harmanli), and chemises worn by brides, children and the elderly in the north and Rhodopes.

2) Brané (vadene)  technique (motifs in relief)

This technique was known by many names:  brane, otbirane, vadene, digana duska, zahloupena duska, digani kraishta.

The motifs made using this technique were worked by hand, using the shuttle or with the aid of a board or thread, and stand out in slight relief, Small brani motifs were arranged in horizontal stripes, and were used on chemises or cloths or on the skirts of soukman and aprons in eastern Bulgaria, together with embroidered motifs which were worked in multicoloured threads while the fabric is in the loom.

Brani motifs

digani kraishta = raised edges,
kleti = cells (found around Silistra)


© Eliznik2007, Last updated Jan-08