Carpet weaving is a traditional craft in Chiprovtsi. This craft goes from one generation to another and people keep its secrets. It is not only a way to earn their living, but a destiny for the local people. The Chiprovtsi carpets are unique pieces of the carpet weaving art. They are hand-made and only natural materials are used. The coloring is also achieved from natural products like plants, herbs, trees or grass. The typical ornaments used by the Chiprovtsi carpet weavers have never changed. They all have their native origin. Most typical are: geometric figures like rhombuses, triangles with interlacing flowers, plants and animal compositions. The color range is a combination of cold and warm colors - brown, green, light brown, scarlet, red, black and white. Each carpet is itself a work of art. It shows the sense of balance, harmony and color of the carpet weavers.
The wonderful nature of the Rhodopi Mountain is multi-faceted like the Rhodopi fleecy rugs. It has preserved the ancient traditions and broadness of Bulgarian spirituality. In the Rhodopi region, crafts like coppersmith's trade, weaving, wood engraving and fur trade were not only the major way to earn a living but a real art. Craftsmen here made their works with skillfulness and dexterity. The traditional women's craft in this area is weaving. Even nowadays you may see a woman making another model of this fine art at her wooden loom. You may see her skillfully combine colors as she uses the rich color range taken straight from the motley Rhodopi nature. The works of the coppersmiths present springs of beauty, inspired mastery and spiritual warmth. Characteristic features of the Rhodopi mastership are sense of colors, artistic virtuosity and feeling for compositions.
Arms trade in the Bulgarian lands has centuries'-old traditions. The information about the many thaousands' strong Bulgarian cavalry and the impressive preparations of Tsar Simeon for the march to Konstaninopol and the defeat of the strongest army of that time - the Byzantium army, prove that the arms trade was strongly developed on the territories of the First and Second Bulgarian States. The mass production of arms led to the standardization of manufacture. . However, Bulgarian craftsmen dealt with individual arms working out what they considered the esthetic preferences and purchasing capacity of clients. A number of goldsmith's methods were used for decoration - forging, casting, incrustation, application, filigree, precious and semi-precious stones attachment and gold-plating. Arms trade is a unique craft - men's craft, craft of pride and dignity. Besides Sliven, other arms trade centers are Gabrovo, Nikopol, Sofia, Kazanlak, Panagyuriste, Vratsa and Vidin.
One of the oldest wood-carving monuments kept since the Second Bulgarian State are the doors of the Hrelyova Tower of the St. Petka church in the town of Veliko Tarnovo, and the sanctuary of the church in the village of Bozhentsi. Basic element in these monuments is the interlaced work. There appeared some schools: Atonska, Debarska, Trevnenska and Samokovska. The interlaced work is replaced by motives where plant elements, birds, human figures and fairy creatures dominate. Monuments of these schools, which were not made by human hands, are preserved in the following churches: St. Nikola in Sofia, St. Marina in Plovdiv, St. Archangel in Tryavna, and the churches in Bansko, Rilski and Bachkovski monasteries. The craftsman's chisel, which hollowed out iconostases and thrones, king's and boyar's sanctuary portals and small home ceilings in the Renaissance, is nowadays more frequently used for making out thematic and decorative panels.
Pottery dates back from the very beginning of mankind. This craft was practiced since ancient times in Bulgarian lands as well and helped people to survive. According to findings from archeological excavations the Thracians have been using the treadle potter's wheel since the beginning of the new iron era. A remarkable moment in the history of ceramics is the painted Preslav ceramics dating from the second half of 9th and the beginning of 10th centuries. This is the first pre-faience ceramics of its kind in Europe and it was brought to Bulgaria by the Near East masters. The facing ceramic plates which were made here were taken to the Old Continent. Later on, in 12th - 14th centuries, there appeared the glazed ceramics. There are pottery workshops in almost all of the bigger residential districts - Gabrovo, Busintsi, Troyan, Aytos, Pirot, etc.
Bulgaria is proud of one of the oldest icon-painting schools. The Trevnenska school is the oldest one of the time of the Bulgarian National Revival. It has three main directions - icon-painting, wood engraving and construction mastery. It has as many graduates, as eminent representatives as well. Another famous Bulgarian school is the Samokov artistic school. The best achievements of this school are in the field of the art of painting. Graduates of this school painted the biggest monastery in Bulgaria - the Rila Monastery. The Bansko artistic school comes next. It was founded by Toma Vishanov who graduated the Vienna artistic school of European art of painting. The monumental art of painting created by members of the Bansko school in the last decades of 19th century are amongst the most interesting examples for folklorization of religious art in the country.
The Coppersmith's trade has a centuries'-old history. It was practiced along with crafts like weaving, wood engraving and homespun tailoring. It was not only a way to earn a living but it was the way masters expressed their spiritual beauty, inspired mastery and cordiality. For many centuries the coppersmith made use of all the copper properties as a plastic material. Due to his perfect sense of symmetry and rhythm he made the common shape, harmonized volumes and separate details. Even nowadays if you pass by some isolated place of Bulgaria, you can witness how a master is deftly knocking on an exquisite pitcher made of copper. In the ethnographic museums in most Bulgarian towns where a spark of Bulgarian spirit is being preserved, you can find copper articles made by some of the great Bulgarian artists.
Embroidery is an old art craft and it is tightly connected with the complete outlook of national dress. Decoration of clothing was mainly done by Bulgarian women as it reflected their artistic skills and sense of color harmony. The beauty of each outfit depends on the skillful blending together of embroideries, applications, braids, shirt patterns, belts, aprons and socks. Embroidery is also defined by the local color of the different folklore regions and by the ornaments and materials used. Bulgarian woman skillfully combined different types of stitches, different treads and gold-thread decorations into various geometrical figures. Exquisiteness of woman's clothing is enriched by hand knitting. The white, hand-knitted lace is part of the dress style in the regions of Sofia, Tran and Pazardzhik. Lace table covers, multi-colored socks and gloves are also hand-knitted works. Hand-weaved carpets and fleecy rugs are considered to be a part of Bulgarian woman's mastership.
Tryavna has been the cradle of a great number of crafts since ancient times. The town is situated on the northern slopes of the Balkan Mountains. Here, one may find Bulgarian traditions and folklore through which the grandeur of Bulgarian national spirits might be felt. Craftsmen in this region are genius architects, inspired artists, icon-painters and engravers. Construction, wood engraving, tailoring, fur trade and smith's trade were not only a way to earn a living, but real art masterpieces of that time. The houses dating from the Bulgarian National Revival, craftsmen workshops and the smell of centuries'-old forests have made Tryavna an attractive center of arts, crafts and culture. One of the most impressive sights in the town is the Museum of the Tryavna icon-painting school, which keeps more than 160 icons reflecting the wisdom, charm and strength of the Bulgarian national spirit from the revival times.