Cultural Corridors of South East Europe

South East Europe / Western Trans-Balkan Road

Chiprovtsi carpets

Info Sections
Chiprovtsi carpets

About the site

Corridor: Western Trans-Balkan Road
Country: Bulgaria, Chiprovtsi
Type: Intangible Heritage
Epoch: 20th Century, Modern Times
Theme: Intangible Heritage
World Heritage:
20th CenturyModern TimesIntangible HeritageIntangible Heritage

A considerable part of the Bulgarian national heritage consists of the well known in the country and abroad Chiprovtsi carpets and tapestry. They are a phenomenon in the Bulgarian folk handicrafts that flourished during the Bulgarian Revival and survived until present times. The development of carpet-weaving art reflects national way of living, rites, traditions and feasts.
The first records for the production of carpets in Chiprovtsi date back to the 17th c. The early, so called constructive period lasted until the 18th c. Most typical is the geometrical treatment of motives in natural colours: yellow or ochre, brown, blue or green. All colours have natural origin, the women from Chiprovtsi prepared their dyes using various plants. By developing the carpet fabric they used one prevailing colour, while the other were used to enrich the composition.
The first carpets were called Bakham carpets (after the name of the bakham tree, which grows in the Southern hemisphere, and which is used to obtain red ond black dye) or Garibald (after the name of a short overcoat). The main element of this carpet is the triangle. The colours are bright and bluish-green. To the first period is related the so-called karakachka (meaning black-eyed bride). It is assumed that karakachka was the symbolic image of the Goddess of fertility. These carpets are in two colours – black and red. The image of the Chiprotsi carpets Bakham and karakachka most probably existed earlier than the 17th c. They have no analogues anywhere else in the world.
The next period of the Chiprovtsi carpets, called decorative, continues until end of 19th c. The weavers found inspiration for their masterpieces in nature – trees, bushes, birds, animals and flowers – stylised in ornaments and combined in compositions. The red and black colours become leading colours, while the yellow, brown, blue and green colours are enriched by the white and violet. The handicraft spreads also in the villages in the vicinity – Jelezna, Martinovo, Kopilotsi and Glavanovtsi.
Sine the end of 19th c. until nowadays is the third period of the Chiprovtsi carpets called ornamental. The changed way of living of the urban population stimulates weavers to expand the range of colours and ornamental decoration. Chemical dyes and foreign motives were introduced, developed on millimetre paper. This is the period when the Chiprovtsi carpets were awarded with golden medals on exhibitions in London, Brussels, Anvers, Liege, Plovdiv and included in the collections of most European museums.
Today carpets are still hand-made, woven not only in Chiprovtsi but also in the neighbouring villages. The most valuable patterns are preserved in the Historical museum of Chiprovtsi.

Expert network