The doll is a companion to man from time immemorial. It is his first try to look from “aside”, to recreate himself and his knowledge of the surroundings in an easy to understand way. There exist various types of dolls – totems, amulets, toys, scarecrows, puppets.
A doll can be made from everything and it resembles every living being, expresses moods and emotions. That’s why dolls have long been attributed magical properties, while the doll masters have been regarded as chosen ones with “special” skills.
Dolls are represented in all cultures and are an object of all kinds of creativity. They are loved and appreciated all over the world.
The traditional Bulgarian doll represents a souvenir figurine, dressed in a traditional dress. These dolls are a token of the generous spirit of the Bulgarian people, of their customs and culture. A lot of attention is paid to the clothing in their make, because the dress is one of the most characteristic elements of Bulgarian folk culture. It is a traditional clothing, which bears an unique significance in the daily and festive activities of the Bulgarian. Every region in Bulgaria has its own dress with characteristic motifs that do not replicate in the other regions of the country.
In the ornaments of the Bulgarian dress a specific code is inserted, by which Bulgarians used to make out information – who comes from what kin, from what region of the country – the dress bore its message.
The traditional doll might be created in various sizes from various materials – most often from wood, cloth and clay.
To the hands of the dolls various objects of the customs might be attached – crooks, bags, pitchers, baskets a.o.
The traditional dolls is not only an interior decoration, it also bears a message from past times of brave lads and beautiful lasses, tells forgotten stories, acts as a bridge between the past and the present.
The evidence of the make of dolls on our territories in the past is too scarce. In every home dolls from rags with different purposes were made – rag dolls for play and ritual dolls. The doll for play is made of a wound and folded piece of cloth or towel, its head shaped, eyes and mouth painted with coal. The ritual dolls were made for special occasions – most often to keep away illnesses, for good luck to newly weds, to support lying-in women, to protect animals and fields. For the make of these dolls is used straw, wooden sticks, red soil, cloth or some others (primarily natural materials and household objects) depending on the purpose of every one. These dolls were made by the oldest woman in the house and in their make no scissors and needles were allowed to be used. As with all aspects of the Bulgarian folklore, so is doll making a peculiar symbiosis of the mysterious, skillfully implemented in the daily round of the Bulgarian.
Nowadays very few people in Bulgaria exist that are entirely committed to this craft. The masters of dolls are primarily women with skills in plenty of areas – to create the dress of a doll is required the mastery of sewing, knitting, embroidery, loom, to successfully make the body and the face the talent of a painter is crucial, to inspirit life – well here a special set of skills is indispensable, bordering on magic.