Women’s 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 were woven using an ancient technique using small pieces of board called kori. The multi-coloured warp threads were passed through small squares of leather, or cardboard with a hole in each corner, while the weft threads were 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. 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 sukman costume were narrow. These were woven in stripes, as in the north, or made of black woollen cloth, which was decorated with floral embroidery worked in brightly coloured wool. This style of belt was shorter than the woven belts, just meeting at the front and was fastened with a metal clip or decorative buckle (pafka). Belts worn with dark coloured sukman were usually brightly coloured, in red, orange, dark red or had 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, were richly decorated. In Yambol, Elhovo, or Topolovgrad a wider piece of cloth was used and folded diagonally to give diagonal coloured stripes.

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

The belts worn with saya costume in the central and eastern Rhodope mountains, around Ivailovgrad, Krumovgrad and Gyumyurdjina (now Komotini) were made of a square piece of fabric, often silk or cotton, which could 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 be derived from a back ‘apron’.

Men’s woven fabric belts (pojas) and leather belts

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

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

Published on 7th June 2018