Bulgaria, Summer 2022
Returning to Bulgaria I found intact heritage, calm, kindness and incredible beauty. When traveling and for sourcing heritage textiles, I never know exactly what I will encounter. This trip, my fourth to the Rodope Mountains, was about bringing into focus the familiar. Not just for me, but for the people I go back to see. We are in sync now with an understanding that I will return again and that what I am looking for is authentic, hand made and the more unusual. There is plenty of tourism here that leans toward the modern or replica of traditional arts and crafts. Being from America, I stand out culturally through reference. But as I personally become familiar it is clear the warmth and sincerity of the mountain folk in the Rodope Mountains could not be more special.
Even my hopes of encountering the ever illusive endangered and indigenous Karakachan sheep and shepherd dog were met, not once but on three different occasions. We work with a weaver in a village that is the last of makers of the infamous Halishte rugs. However I am always looking for the older ones no one seems to want anymore. They are what I have coined "Beasties". Heavy, scruffy, endearing in reference to their lineage and use and incredibly beautiful. Ever more rare, I hit the jackpot and am returning home with a fabulous cache of rugs.