The Ethnographic Museum in Elhovo (BG:Елхово) preserves the history, culture and customs of Yambol district, with a special focus on the clothing and costume and embroidery of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is number 100 on the Bulgarian Tourist Union’s list of the top 100 National Tourist Sites.
The Elhovo Ethnographic Museum Collection
The museum collection holds over 18,000 items, of which about 12,000 are exhibited in the museum today. On the whole the display is a bit dated and could use some renovation to make the exhibits more appealing and accessible for foreigners, but the treasures found inside are well worth the effort for anyone interested in ethnography in general, traditional clothing and embroidery, or the specific history of this region.
The museum has eight departments representing the different parts of community life:
- Agriculture and Stock Breeding
- Home and Interior
- Hunting and Fishing
- Clothes and Jewels
- Textiles and Embroidery
- Traditional Handicrafts
- Folk Art
Pride of place belongs to Clothes and Jewels and Textiles and Embroidery, which together make up more than half of the exhibition.
The Elhovo Ethnographic Museum Exhibits
The exhibition space is divided into four halls preceded by a short historical introduction to the region.
Hall 1 presents a picture of the basic means of livelihood from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Small exhibits of tools and other artifacts represent occupations available in the region at that time, including farming, viticulture, tobacco growing, stock breeding, hunting and fishing, metalworking and tailoring. Each occupation is further illuminated by pictures and related historical documents.
Hall 2 contains the model of a typical home in the region from around 1900. It is constructed in the original size and shape using masonry from an actual house that was dismantled and moved into the museum for this purpose.
Hall 3 displays the tradition dress of southeastern Bulgaria, with an emphasis on 19th century styles. Representative garments include both everyday and Sunday clothes for men, women and children. The clothing of Bulgarian refugees from Adrianople and locations in Aegean Thrace (Gumuljina, Uzunkupru, and Dedeagac) are particularly noteworthy.
Hall 4 highlights some of the traditional festivals and celebrations of the region, including weddings, holidays, and annual events. Pictures supplement the display of costumes and other accoutrement.
The exhibition ends with a collection of wood carvings and icons produced by local 19th century artists.
The Ethnographic Museum plays a major role in cultural studies by investigating, collecting, preserving and promoting folk art and culture from the Strandja-Sakar region. It is engaged in education through lectures, traveling exhibitions, portable photo exhibitions, and demonstrations of national dress, as well as offering professional advice to others interested in the field.
Ethnographic Museum – Elhovo
4 Shipka Street
Open Tuesday-Saturday, 08:00-17:00, Sunday 08:00-12:00. Closes for lunch.
See images from the museum: