"Bulgarian Lace" by Hannah Anderson

October 1999

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"Today young people are not interested in these things. They think it's old fashioned, and it has gone out of style," said Bulgarian Ethnographer Iva Filipova. We were talking in a room decorated with typical late 19th century Bulgarian artifacts.

The brightly-polished, wooden table was covered by a crotcheted tablecloth and a tatted towel that could easily be found in the lace market. "Laces are not typical of Bulgaria; embroidery is traditional," she told us. During the Western revival in the 19th century, many Bulgarian women went to Poland and other Western countries to study. There they learned how to crotchet, tat, and make Belgian lace. They brought the craft back to Bulgaria and began making lace. Some even combined the techniques with traditional Bulgarian stitching. "These sorts of things were quite common in houses in the early part of this century and the 19th century, " Filipova said. "Lace was fashionable -- a symbol of modernity and status." I asked her why the women sit in front of the church if the lace is no longer fashionable. "The women have an economic interest," she said, "most of them live on pensions, which don't always come -- and people buy it."