Майстор Андон Загоров – зидар от с.Кости

Andon Zagorov (Doncho) is from Petrich. He graduated the Build school in Devnya and apprenticed by a  masonry-craftsman for three years. Master Andon moved to Strandzha in 1982, as a part of the Stradzha-Sakar program. He has been working with traditional masonry, and roof-tiling with Turkish (Roman single-lap) tiles more then 20 years. He is experienced also in knitting with hazel of partition walls, plastering them with clay. He has worked in Gramatikovo and Kondolovo villages. Master Andon shared with us that it is for stonework that most craft is needed – masonry and stone cladding he finds most difficult. Doncho is also famous with his work on the roofs. There is no house in Kosti which roof he has not climbed. That is because the locals said – “He has hands of gold”. The traditional houses in Kosti are with Turkish (Roman single-lap) tiles. You have to be also agile to walk on the rooftops – it is not for everyone, and for master Doncho the best thing is to look from the top.

There are some young boys who help him, but there is noone who wants to be an apprentice.

Master Yovno Yovnov – a master of plank-splitting

Master Yovno Yovnov is from the village of Bulgari. He has been practicing the old craft for splitting wood in boards – typical wooden cladding of the Strandzha houses, for twenty years. This method was used since the Bulgarian Revival period. Today master Yovno is the last one in the area. He inherited the craft from his uncle, and has worked on dozens of houses in Tsarevo, Brashlian, Sozopol, Nessebar and Zheravna. Master Yovno regretfully told us that none of the young people want to engage and learn the difficult craft that requires a lot of patience and hard work. 

In this craft the tools are two wooden splitters and an axe. The secrets of the craft start already by choosing the right tree for splitting. Straight oak trees of “blagun” type is chosen, from shady mixed forests. The diameter of the shaft is no less than 30 cm. Only selected by master Yovno trees are logged between late September and the beginning of February. In this period, the quality of the wood is best and consequently it is not affected by insects. Split boards have a length of about 60 cm and a thickness of 1.8-2 cm. After drying, they are lined up horizontally and overlap. They are nailed and vertical board is added to cover the nails – “mother” board. For one day Master Yovno is able to split around 80 pieces of wooden boards. It can be made 400 boards from one cubic meter wood.

The executed boarding is usable for about a hundred years and does not need any further treatment.

Grandfather Mihal – a basket weaver from village of Stoilovo

The village of Stoilovo is located 9km away from Malko Tarnovo. It counts for one of the oldest hesakian villages in Strandzha. The first settlers arrived 250-300 years ago.

The valleys of the rivers Mechi dol and Veleka, which are close to Stoilovo village are full with hazelbushes. In the past the village was famous with its basket weavers. The craftsmen from Lozengrad (today Kırklareli, Turkey)

Grandfather Mihal is the last of them. The handicraft was tought to him by his father. Today the 86 year old craftsman is no more practicing. The places where the material for the baskets was picked (branches from hazel trees) are no more accessible for the old man. A fire should be lighted, the branches should be soaked and steamed, then cleaved and cut. The baskets have to be waved from soft bands, because they don’t have to crack and change their shape. The handiworks are really light and durable but they don’t have to be soaked.

The principles for building walls in the traditional houses is very similar. The hazel tree branches are thicker, split only into two. They have to be nailed to the structure and then covered with clay.