WHAT CLOTHING DID THE PEOPLE FROM THE SECOND BULGARIAN KINGDOM WEAR?
The common people traditionally wore sheepskin clothes. Men's outerwear were made of lambskin. They wore cloaks made of felt over them, which had a hood on top. The type of shoe they wore was known as tsarvuli, which were sewn using calfskin and tied with putties, wrapped around the legs with horsehair, which were intertwined in beautiful patterns. On feast days, the putties were replaced by a type of sock made of hodden that reached to below the knees and were of different colours in their upper part. The Bulgarians wore felt caps on their heads. They were made of felt or wool and even in Byzantium were known as "Bulgarian products.
The cut of the clothing was simple and the material from which the clothes were sewn was rudimentary. The festive menswear consisted of a long shirt, which dropped down freely to the knees, and was systematically strapped across the waist with a belt. Most often the shirt was white, but they came in other colors: brown, dark green, dark blue and more. Masculine clothes were not as colourful as feminine ones. The shirts were slanted at the breast and the sleeves ended narrow at the wrists. All men, rich or poor, wore narrow trousers called "gashti”.
The aristocrats preferred garish colours: wearing trousers that had different patterns and images was considered the pinnacle of elegance. Men from poor classes held them up with a string, while the wealthier used belts. Belts worn by aristocrats were decorated with numerous castings depicting humans and animals, with gilding and precious stones.
Regarding jewelry, the men wore mostly rings. The men of poorer classes wore simple, roughly molded, metal rings. The boyars put on massive gold rings, engraved with inscriptions, various images in heraldic stylistic and precious stones. These rings often played the role of seal with which they stamped their letters and documents.
The Bulgarians, just like the Byzantines, wore beards and mustaches, and their hair was long and fell freely on their shoulders. Long hair was considered a sign that a person was born and lived as a free man. Therefore, only the slaves had their hair shorn during the Middle Ages.
The women's attire was very elegant. The festive garment was a long linen shirt that covered the ankles as well. The norms of decency and Christian religion required that the garment be made in such a way as not to show the curvature of the body beneath it. Around the neck, a woman's garment was knotted and embellished with linings of colorful threads. The sleeves were tight and buttoned. Women did not dress differently from men, but their clothing stood out by their variety of colours - garish and colourful.
The women of Tarnovo wore a special kind of headgear, consisting of a front seam, which rose high and upwards from the back of the crown and then fell freely to the shoulders. It was known as the "sokay" of Turnovo. The more affluent Turnovo women and boyar wives, like the daughters and wives of powerful nobles, donned a sokay in which golden threads were interwoven.
Medieval Bulgarians absolutely loved jewelry. The earrings and buttons worn by humble Bulgarian women were relatively simple in shape and were made of copper, bronze, iron and colored glass. During this era, women's garments were distinguished by their colourful decoration and simple cut.
The clothing of the Bulgarian aristocracy resembled Byzantine fashion. The boyars had their garments tailored from fabrics imported from Byzantium,Western Europe and the Far East. The outfits were richly decorated with gold, pearls, jewels and gold-entwined thread.
The female aristocratic garments were particularly lavish and elegant. Gold-woven fabrics with rich decoration predominated. On the clothes of Desislava - the wife of the Sebastokrator (“venerable ruler”) Kaloyan, whose depiction survived to our very day - were embroidered medallions in which lions can be seen in a heraldic pose. It was decorated with an incredible amount of pearls, which dotted the ceremonial clothes of the Bulgarian princesses.
The boyar women also wore priceless diadems - all made of gold and precious stones. The amount of earrings, pendants, trinkets, rings, bracelets, golden chains, precious stones and enamel they were wearing was massive.
The guests and visitors of the Historical Park will have the unique opportunity to see some recreations of costumes from the Second Bulgarian kingdom. Our reenactors and heroes, in specially-organised performances for the audience, will carry you back to a time when the Bulgarian kings and nobles did not yield either in courage or in splendour to their Byzantine neighbours. Anyone will be able to put on a costume of a Bulgarian boyar and take a picture in an worthy medieval atmosphere.