The Rhodope Mountain is often described as a stormy sea where one could sink irrevocably. Every little thing there charms and allures; the past is rich and controversial and a lifetime is not enough to explore it. The traditional apparel of the people living in the Rhodope Mountain is of particular interest.
Due to the comparatively cool mountain climate and the well-developed sheep breeding in the region, the apparel of the Rodopean inhabitants used to be made out of wool.
The costume of the Rhodopean woman is typically consisting of a sleeveless dress (pinafore) and a white long shirt. The long pinafore (“valnenik”) is made out of woolen fabric and is colored in black or dark blue. It is embroidered with silk threads. Above it the women wear a vest with sleeves called “merszhan”.
The pinafore is held together by a colorful waistband, usually in red, and the colours of the waistband are matching the colours of the headscarf and the apron. The apron is fastened together above the waistband and its pattern is usually similar to it – the predominating colours are yellow, orange and brick, and the main figure in the pattern is square.
The headpiece worn by the Rhodopean women was burgundy red headscarf, which covers half of the forehead and almost all the hair. On their feet the women used to wear colorful woolen sockets and soft slippers sewed by hand woven woolen fabric and decorated with leather strings and silk threads.
The traditional Rhodopean clothing of the men has its secrets as well. It is believed that the social differences affected the colour and the style of the men apparel. The rich and powerful people used to wear clothing in blue or green. The shepherds’ trouses were black in colour and richly decorated. The poor farmers and the servants were dressed in brownish and were allowed to limited decoration, if any.
The most widespread and recognizable till present days Rhodopean clothing is darker in colour and is categorized as “black clothing type”. The trousers made out of hand woven woolen fabric are fitting the body quite closely, and their pockets are decorated with embroidery.
The shirt is made out of white fabric; there is no embroidery on it, only the narrow rectangular collar has colorful decoration. Embroidery of black thick threads (“gaytan”) is sewed along the seams, the back and the front section of the male vest. Above the vest one used to wear an outer piece of clothing with narrow sleeves called “dolanma”.
The men used to warp around their legs white piece of cloth “navoy”, which is fastened with black strings. The male leather sandals were made out of beef leather. The headpiece “gugla” was also made out of leather.