Today I am going to talk about the costumes of the region known as Shopluk. The Shope are an ethnic group which inhabit Bulgaria, Serbia, and Macedonia. While they tend to identify as one of these three nationalities, depending on where they live, there is an undoubted commonality to their culture as expressed in dialect, music, dance, costume, etc. The dialects which they speak are somewhat intermediate between Serbian and Bulgarian. They inhabit highland areas in all three nations. Any dance performance from each of these countries inevitably includes a Shope number, as Shope dances tend to be fast, flashy, energetic and impressive.
Here is a video which I found of a folk festival which was held in the south of Poland. Besides many Polish groups, and others from France, Spain, Sardinia, Hungary, Ukraine, Armenia, etc, there are three groups doing Shope dances; one from Serbia, starting at 9:00, one from Macedonia, starting at 14:39, and one from Bulgaria, starting at 24:15
Here is the best map which I have found which more or less shows the entire Shopluk region. This is from Dunav. The borders are not actually this precise, this map follows administrative regions. If you have trouble orienting yourself, this map shows Serbia, Macedonia, and Bulgaria.
Here is a map which shows Serbian Shopluk, in the southeast corner. I am not convinced that it extends as far to the northwest as this, but this is from a Serbian source.
For comparison, here is a map of the ethnic makeup of the former Yugoslavia.The brown areas in the southeast are where the population self identifies as Bulgarian Shope.
Dimitrovgrad, Crna Trava This is the Serbian Shope costume which is most commonly seen, worn south and east of Pirot around Dimitrovgrad and Crna Trava. A very similar costume is worn across the border in adjacent parts of Bulgaria.
Bosilegrad This is the costume worn in the southern part of Serbian Shopluk, in the Bosilegrad area and south. This bears great similarity to the costume of Kjustendil, which is just over the border. There is a strip of territoy along the border where the people self identify as Bulgarian
This is from Berzia, which is further north, actually outside of Sofia oblast.
BotevgradIn the northeast of Sofia Oblast, around Botevgrad and Etropole, you find these costumes.
This lies directly east of the city of Sofia.
Ikhtiman, Samokov, Dupnitsa Southeast and south of Sofia are the districts of Ikhtiman, Samokov and Dupnitsa. The first two are in Southern Sofia Oblast, the last in eastern Kyustendil oblast. The costume in all three was basically the same, being distinguished by the style of embroidery on the chermise. Note that the women's sukman has short sleeves in these areas.
Examples of embroidery from Ikhtiman,
More recently, the costume of Ikhtiman has abandoned embroidery on the chemise in favor of lace.
Pernik oblast, which lies to the south and west of Sofia, has basically two costume areas, Graovo in the southeast, and Trun in the northwest.
GraovoThe Graovo costume is somewhat similar to that of the Sofia region, especially in the embroidery on the women's chemise sleeve with turned up cuffs. The sukman is sleeveless. A light colored linen sukman is worn in the summer, and a dark wool one in the winter. Both are embroidered.
The costume from Trun is quite similar
More recently, in some parts of this region, as well as in western Sofia province, the embroidery on the dark chemise, which is now black instead of dark blue, was replaced by rows of gold braid, with some other colors added. This is essentially the same costume which is also worn on the other side of the border with Serbia, in the Dimitrovgrad and Crna Trava districts.
The sleeves and front bodice are richly decorated with rows of braid.
This group is from the village of Kalishte in Pernik Oblast.
So as we can see, the same costume is worn in some adjacent parts of Pernik Oblast, but also northwest across the border in Serbia, and southwest across the border in Macedonia.
Macedonian Shopluk lies in the highlands in the northeast of the country, near the Bulgarian border.
This consists of the eastern part of Kriva Palanka municipality. The costume is basically the same as that of Kjustendil.
This girl seems to be wearing a saya which is too big for her. The opening should be in the center front, as you can see above.
This area lies south of Pijanec and consists roughly of the municipalities of Berovo and Pekhchevo
This consists only of the highlands in the northeast of Radovish municipality.
This is a very distinctive costume. These are the best images which I could find for it. If anyone has better, I would appreciate if you could donate them.
There is one more region, which the Macedonians call Gornodjumaysko Pole. This consists of the highlands to the west of Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, next to the Macedonian border. The Bulgarians consider all of Blagoevgrad oblast to be the Pirin region [Bulgarian Macedonia], but the Macedonians consider this area to be part of Macedonian Shopluk.
Here is the costume from the village of Padesh.
The Shopi have a fascinating culture, well worth being informed about.
A Shope dance song with a slide show of various Shope costumes.
Old footage from a movie showing Shope village dancing.
Shope singing. A group of women in stage Kjustendil costume.
A video from the movie 'This is Bulgaria'. This part features the Shope region during the Lazarka festival. Among other things, this festival allows young women to present themselves as being of an age to be courted. Most of the dancers are wearing the west Sofia/Trun/Crna Trava costume. The leading man is wearing a Sofia type vest. [These are all mass-produced stage costumes.]
It also features examples of the unique singing style of the Shopi, who love to harmonize with minor 2nds.