Woodcarving is the process of working, cutting and shaping of the wood with an applied and decorative purpose by using various instruments, the most popular of which are a knife, a chisel or a hammer. The outcome of the process might be a wooden sculpture, figure or the decoration of a wooden object. The final product of the process is also called woodcarving.
This is a craft with rich history, dating as far back as before the establishment of the Bulgarian state, and the love of the Slavs for it is well known. Several types of woodcarving exist, the first one of which is:
Pastoral woodcarving – the name comes from the love of the shepherds in the mountains for this type of decoration. This woodcarving might be defined as the working on smaller wooden objects with a simpler shape for personal use related to the customs and activities of the craftsmen. The predominating objects of this type are spoons, whistles, shepherd’s crooks, yokes, shepherd’s pipes a.o., being pleasant to the eye. Pastoral carving illustrates the artistic interests and poetic feelings of shepherds and ploughmen, deeply delving into Bulgarian customs and culture. It ensures the foundation and impetus for Bulgarian woodcarving.
Church – in the church too awakens interest into woodcarving. Regarded as one of the most difficult types and strongly influenced by the pastoral carving, it is used in the interior design of Bulgarian churches. This art evolves over the years and becomes exquisite, detailed, expensive and technically perfect. Namely here experienced masters realized their potential and found their calling. Over the years some parts of the woodcarving in the churches have remained, providing an opportunity for the examination of iconostases and carved doors made with utmost skill.
Domestic woodcarving – this type of carving is immensely popular and known among Bulgarians during the Bulgarian Renaissance. In this period it attracts interest because of its newly available uses for the decoration of the middle-class’ homes, f.i. chests, canes and carved ceilings, providing status to the owner. More attention was paid to the ceilings in the guest and common rooms, exemplifying representativeness. The most common motives implemented into domestic woodcarving are plant images and animal figures.
In Bulgarian woodcarving there exists a great diversity of ornaments and forms, characteristic of the Bulgarian’s sense for art. This art has given pleasure and inspiration during the years of servitude, but hopes and dreams as well. Woodcarving in a state of good repair can be found in the museum houses in Koprivshtitza.