Living Room

The fact of the cottages being more or less hidden behind walls renders it difficult to look inside the houses. The Bulgarians, too, do not like strangers to come within their dwellings. But the houses in the one narrow, winding street which runs through the village, face the roadway, and, as their doors generally stand open, you can form, by peeping in as you pass, a fair impression of what a Bulgarian peasant’s cottage is in reality. The floors are of mud; the kitchen fronting the street is also the living-room.

Sleeping Room

Behind there is a sleeping-room, with a bedstead in it for the head of the house, while the sons and daughters sleep upon mats stretched on the floor. The furniture consists of wooden tables, benches, and chests. The crockery and household utensils of every sort seem of the commonest and coarsest kind. I should doubt if there is a single house in the whole village in which any English labourer or artisan, earning good wages, would not deem it a hardship to be obliged to live in. At the same time, there was no single dwelling which, given the habits and customs of the country, could be fairly described as unfit for human habitation. A similar remark applies to the dress of the villagers. The day on which I visited Panscherevow happened to be a Sunday. In Bulgaria, though work is done in the fields on Sunday to some extent, the day is more or less of a holiday, and there are more people to be found in the villages than would be seen there on an ordinary week-day. Possibly, on a Sunday, a native might detect some little extra care or adornment in the dress of the peasants, but to a stranger the difference in attire between work-days and holidays is utterly imperceptible. The men had certainly made no change in their shaggy sheepskins and their woolen leggings. The women’s stiff skirts and flannel petticoats may have displayed a trifle more embroidery than usual, and the white linen skull-caps, with their pendent tails, were obviously fresh from the wash-tub. In most cases, however, the dress of men, women, and children alike was frayed, soiled, and tattered. The clothing was warm and stout enough to keep out the cold, but it was generally so old and so worn that, in other lands, the wearing of such attire would have stamped the wearer as a pauper. The women are fair-haired, fair-complexioned, slatternly creatures, somewhat resembling the Scandinavian type, stout and strongly built, and fairly clean in appearance. The men not at work seemed to be gathered mostly in the liquor-shops or to loaf outside its doors; but, in as far as I could notice, they drank very little, and were certainly quiet, well- behaved, and, for the most part, silent. Every now and then a woman in passing by would exchange a remark with the crowd of men gathered around the liquor-store; but there was no general conversation of any kind, either inside or outside the doors of the tavern. When I visited Panscherevow the violets and primroses were just out, and, as there is a considerable demand for flowers amidst the townsfolk of Sofia, our carriage was surrounded with village children bearing nosegays in their hands. They never, however, asked you to buy, or begged or thrust their wares upon you with the importunity of the Eastern mendicant. They held out their flowers stolidly; but, if you showed no wish to purchase, they went away equally stolidly, and left you in peace without asking for anything. The children were one and all ragged, ill-shod, unkempt, but for all that they looked healthy and well fed, while the general lack of beauty in their features and figures was redeemed by a pleasant smile. When the attempt to do a trade in flowers had been discontinued as useless the children returned to their games. After the wont of Bulgarian children they played quietly and silently, without screams and without disputes.

 

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