Traditional clothing from Elena region

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A costume of a married woman with covering of the head “Sokai”. First half of XIX century.

   A costume of a married woman with covering of the head “Sokai” female costume and was worn by the Balkan people on the northern slopes of Central Stara Planina. There are three types of Sokai called after the names of the settlements around which they were worn: Gabrovo, Lovech and Kilifarevo.

   The sokai that was used in huts in Elena was of Kilifarevo type. This covering of the head has adorned the heads of married women and was placed on the head of the bride on the Monday after the wedding. In the old days it was placed on her head on Wednesday, or even on the first Saturday after the wedding, when the bride went out for the first time out of the groom’s house and it was the ritual of unveiling the bride. Early in the morning after returning from the fountain in the groom’s house they removed the veil of the bride and laid on her head the Sokai, presented by her father in law. This exchange was accompanied by a special ritual, the memory about which is not preserved, but the expression “they are preparing bride’s sokai” remained for a long as a mark of something special. During the putting of the sukai on the bride's head can not be involved women whose parents have died. With a white towel / mesalat / the bride adorned herself by attaching sokayna embroidery, made by herself when she was a young girl. The rest of the parts of the sokai, belonged to her mother- in- law. If they had other sons and have already given the sokai to their first daughter-in- law, the father and mother- in- law ordered the kuyumdzhiya to produce new parts of sokai. In collecting the money took part friends and relatives. The Sokai was worn by a married woman until her first son got married. Then the Sokai was given to the daughter- in- law. If the woman had only girls or didn’t have any children she could wear it to old age. According to P. Tsonchev "older women, who have children ceased to wear the sokai and to decorate it with flowers." They have covered their head with a towel on which they have pinned a needle, called “stitch”.

сокайSokai consists of five parts:
Krajilo- is a metal, consisting of three parts, curved like an arch and decorated with colored stones. It was made by the kuyumdzhiya. In the wealthy houses it was golden or silver-plated and for the poorer people and the people who lived in huts it was made of copper. While mourning the metallic krajilo was covered with embroidered on a black cloth sokayna embroidery with certain motives.

Buka- oval wooden board with holes made of beech wood from where its name comes.

Peleshki- are strings of thin silver coins - going 5-6 in 30 cm. long. Besides peleshki were also attached pendants made ​​by goldsmiths. They were attached to the sides of the cheeks and were called "smocheta."

Podbradnik- is dense string of silver coins in two lines attached to krajilo and passing under the chin.

Mesal- is made of cotton or hempen cloth to 3.50 meters long and 0.45 meters wide with selvage. In the ends there is a special embroidery / embroidery sokayna / and fringe.

One legend of the origin of Sokal "... with the fall of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom - Tarnovo, the migrating Ouster royal families were looking for the remotest and inaccessible villages, where to keep their lives and where later remained as settlers. These royal families and cronies have brought up this royal jewel which the local people borrowed and put into practice in their everyday life. "This legend connects the origin of the Sokal with royal diadems, which explains the desire of the Turkish authorities to phase them out of use at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

   S. Bobchev describes the way how the removal happened. "Hadji Ivan Kissiov, who lived in the first half of the XIX century Helena, legislator and rural reformer, without embarrassment issued a monocracy ordinance by which to forbid the wearing of headscarves and sokai in the form of crowns adorned with beads, gold coins and silver coins. In these strings, he saw not only useless waste of money, but also arousing jealousy among people and bad role models, and causes to Enlarge dazhdieto of the house to which belongs the woman, wearing sokai. Noticing that his regulation is not implemented by all, he ordered to a municipal employee to stay at church door with an ax in his hands and if necessary by using force,to gather from the heads of women the sokai, to tear it down, and to hand it over to their husbands ."

Clothing of the Bulgarians in Еlena
in the beginning of XIX - XX century

DSC 7794a  Women’s clothing consisted of:
     -shirtfromhomespun cotton;
     -woolen dress, skirts decorated with strips of cloth - "Kutna"
     -saltamarka, linedwithtinselorfur;
     -a belt weaved on barks
     -silver buckles
     -silkheadscarfcalled "Vali";
     -an apron

     -fur cap
     -full-bottomed breeches
     -padded jacket
     -fur-coat for the cold days

   The changes in the social and political life in the second half of XIX century reflected in the way of clothing of the people in Elena.