Bulgarian belts

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Women's costume - woven fabric belts

Long narrow woven fabric belts, 8cm to 10 cm wide, were worn by women with the double apron costume in the north. These belts are woven using an ancient technique using small pieces of board called kori. The multicoloured warp threads are passed through small squares of leather, or cardboard with hole in each corner, while the weft threads are held on a bobbin. These squares, one to each colour, usually 2 or 3 colours used, allow the weaver to twist the threads to create small geometrical patterns, in stripes, or wavy lines. From the early 20th century belts from parts of the north were decorated with rows of tiny white or multi coloured beads or and sequins.

Belts worn with soukman costume are narrow. These can be woven in stripes, as in the north, or can be made of black woollen cloth, which is decorated with floral embroidery worked in brightly coloured wool. This style of belt is shorted than the woven belts, meeting at the front and being fastened with a metal clip or decorative buckle (pafka). Belts worn with dark coloured soukman are usually bright coloured, in red, orange, dark red or have coloured stripes. Belts from Sofia region were embroidery on the right side using straight embroidery stitches which follow the direction of the warp and weft. Black cloth embroidered belts from around Kazanluk and Stara Zagora, are richly decorated. In Yambol, Elhovo, Topolovgrad a wider piece of cloth is used and folded diagonally to give diagonal coloured stripes.

Belts worn with saya costumes are wider than those worn with soukman. They are usually made of a width of woollen cloth, which is wound around the waist, with the front apron tied over it. This can be one coloured or vertically striped. Belts worn with saya in western Bulgaria are around 6 cm wide whereas in the Rhodopes wider belts up to 15cm wide are worn.

The belts worn with saya costume in central and eastern Rhodope mountains, around Ivailovgrad, Kroumovgrad and Gyumyurdjina were made of a square piece of fabric, often silk or cotton, which can be edged with fringes (like a scarf). It was folded diagonally, and tied round the waist with the narrower ends at the front, and the point placed downwards at the back. This style of waistband is thought to derived from a back ‘apron’.

Men's costume - woven fabric belts (pojas) and leather belts

Belts or waistbands worn by men with both belodreshnik or chernodreshnik are wider than those worn by women, being up to 20 cm wide. These are most commonly made of red woven woollen material or red and white checked material and are worn wound round the waist tightly several times.

Narrow leather belts are frequently worn by craftsmen over a fabric belt and shepherds often wear a broad 2 layered leather belt with pouches to store knives etc.


© Eliznik2008, Last updated Jan-08