Making of so-called “papoutsi” (handmade shoes) is a sub-craft of shoe making. This is an old traditional Bulgarian craft which is connected with producing “papoutsi”. Those shoes were intended for the internal market and different kinds of them were produced to satisfy local preferences. People who got profoundly accustomed with the craft were called “papukchii” (singular –papukchia). There were different kind of shoes made by the papukchii shoemakers: leather sandals (tsarvouli), slippers, kalevri, sewed shoes and other. An interesting fact is that leather sandals were used mainly as a part of the working suit.
The papoutsi making started gaining speed when Bulgaria was a part of Ottoman Empire but flourished in nineteenth century. This craft is still alive though it is quite rare.
The materials used for different kinds of shoes are several types. Slippers were made mostly out of textile. Papoutsi were made out of leather for the upper part and the sole; the threads were made of cotton yarn, the wax was used to lubricate the threads and the fuller’s earth – for gluing and reinforcing of soles.
Eventually the papoutsi lost to kondouri (differen “model” of shoes) in handmade shoes industry. Kondouri became extremely popular and that gave the end of that craft. In the second half of twentieth century the mass sewing machines import puts an end to that traditional craft.