Ottoman-period Bulgarian terminology is Great!

…or what I did on my vacation.

Last weekend I spent three lovely nights with my wife in Koprivshtitsa, an architectural preserve in central Bulgaria. Koprivshtitsa was a town of wool-merchants (and the center of the April Uprising, which is why it has special status) and preserves many of the features of a mercantile town in Ottoman Bulgaria.


Our hotel

Since I’m writing a book about Ottoman Bulgaria, I took a lot of notes and pictures:


The Lyubov House, my basis for Elena’s adopted father’s house

Some vocabulary
Odaya=sitting room (modern Bulgarian: priemna staya, or “first room”)
Komsholuk=a wicket gate in your garden wall so you can visit your neighbor without going onto the street. From Turkish “komşu” or neighbor.
Mangal=a warming stove, in modern Bulgarian, an extremely rude word for a Roma person.
Beglikchiya=a tax collector (I think) from “beglik,” taxes paid to the Ottomans.
Dzhelepin = a drover of animals


Pafti belt-buckles and bracelets

Nakit=a piece of jewelry
Pafti=women’s paired belt buckles (always plural)


Elena’s costume is on the left with the dark green sukman.

Sukman=woman’s costume, sleevless woolen top with long skirts worn over linen undershirt with silk sleeves.
Vkashti=kitchen, for cooking and eating, not baking. Sit on the floor around low table
Noshtva= dough-kneeding trough
Mazhka gostna=men’s guest-room to the right of the audience room (southern exposure). Includes benches and cushions, small table, samovar, fireplace in bedroom extends through northern wall into guest room, with ceramic warming stove.

Coffee service with djzhezve, cups, and spoonfulls of byalo sladko in water

Coffee service with dzhezve, findzhan, and spoonfulls of byalo sladko in water

Dzhezve=a Turkish coffee-pot (from Turkish cezve)
Findzhan=A demitasse cup, in this case without handle.
Byalo sladko=(“white jam”) a treacle-like paste made from sugar-syrup and cream of tartar
Konak=Ottoman administrative building, mansion.
Chartak=balcony opening off the audience chamber, connecting men and women’s guest rooms on the outside.
Soba=birthing room or living room: first on the left when you enter the first floor (southern exposure, below men’s guest-room).
Yashure=a dish of boiled wheat-berries and sugar (in our family, we just call it “zhito” or grain)


A monastery school

Kilino uchilishte=a monastery school, the first form of public education in Bulgaria


Some slices of life:


The cobbled streets of Koprivshtitsa…

Small wooden table with smooth surface and googly underparts, good for magic.
Go through first story of a house through double staircase on the far end of a foyer to ascend to audience room.
Or go into sunken first story and take servant’s stair up to kitchen.
Foyer ceiling is carved, perhaps with chandelier.
Elliptical dome of audience room with frescos showing where merchant trades and in what commodity. With chandelier.
No chairs, but cushions around low tables and padded benches around audience chamber windows (southern exposure) red with pig blood.

…run red with pig blood.

Wooden floors covered with rugs.
Felted wall hangings in brown red and cream.
Chainmail cuffs
U-shaped pewter bracelet
Lytova kashta is Kostadin’s home. He works in a distillery attached to the konak.
Servants quarters are built into garden wall. Where Elena lives.
Where Elena studies: Low table with cushion to kneel on. Warming stove. Kneel on floors put elbows on writing desk.


Labels hung on bad students: “Writer of pale words, un-diligent, disorderly, thief, disturber, careless, liar, disobedient.”

Decorative big nails in the door
Floppy hats for bandits
Coffee mixed with ground roasted chickpeas

Text on a gravestone of a merchant: "I am not what you see today. What I am, you will soon become..."

Text on a gravestone of a merchant: “I am not what you see today. What I am, you will soon become…”

Some names:


Ottoman-era Bulgarian names


More names: Note how grandchildren are named after grandparents


A potential place for a bandits’ hideout. Pines and rocky outcroppings with water running down the middle.

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