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Collection of Monuments from the Early Ages of the Ottoman Domination over the Bulgarian Lands (15th – 16th Century)

The task of this collection is to document the events from the early centuries of Ottoman domination (the invasion of the country by the Ottomans, forcing the Islam, the early uprisings to return the national independence) as well as to show the specific place of the Bulgarian population and of the institution that represented it – the Christian Church within the boundaries of the new state – the Ottoman Empire.
 
The collection has been created during the last forty years mainly via buying from citizens. It consists of approximately two thousand items. The archaeological objects are comparatively few. The collection consists of quite various exhibits due to the wide range of the collection themes: weapons, household objects, adornments and works of applied arts. A part of them are local works but others are imported works from the remoter confines of the Ottoman Empire and from Western Europe. 
 
The works of metal – working arts and crafts are the most numerous and, undoubtedly, goldsmith’s works – adornments and ritual vessels – are the most attractive. Those models that originated from Northwestern areas are especially numerous. Most of them were made by goldsmiths following the models of the so – called Chiprovtsi Goldsmith’s School whose flourishing spanned the period of time from the second half of the 16th century to the defeat of the uprising of the population in the Chiprovtsi area in September 1688. Some ten richly decorated silver bowls (basins) whose embossed decoration includes numerous real or mythical zoomorphic images – deer, frogs, birds, dogs and many others arouse interest. The other large group of impressing objects in the collection are adornments and the greater part of them are female [diadems and prochelnitsi (head decorations), earrings and ear – muffs, bracelets and rings as well as many necklaces]. Most of them are made of silver, using the techniques of filigree and granulation that are complex but specific for the Balkan goldsmiths and always used in their work. The beauty of their decorative elements which combined the traditional Balkan mediaeval shapes with eastern, mostly arabesque patterns is enhanced via gilding with the use of amalgam. 
 
The collection contains very impressive faience vessels made in the big Ottoman workshops in the towns of Iznik and Kutahya. Most of them were found during archaeological excavations in the ruins of the Monastery complex on the island of Sveti Ivan (Saint John) near the town of Sozopol in the 1980s and 1990s. Their multi – coloured rich floral decoration under the glaze, (specific for the Ottoman works – tulips and carnations are included as main elements) gives the visitors some idea of the specific aesthetic taste and choice of the local community during the Late Middle Age. Dining – room vessels, mainly glasses and jugs, were found in the wreckage of a ship shipwrecked off the coast of the town of Chernomorets at the end of the 16th century. They were proof positive for the activity of trade relations in that period. Also the dining – room vessels, mainly glasses and jugs, produced in the workshops of Murano Island in the Venice Republic deeply impress us by their exquisite shapes and expand our notions about people from the Epoch as well as give some idea about their appreciation of beautiful things.