BADAMBA.INFO is a website for the study and reproduction of clothing from the period of the Second Bulgarian Empire. Here you can find analysis of texts written by historians, archeologists and art experts and studies of medieval wall paintings. Here is also a collection of photographs and descriptions of discovered textiles, buttons and parts of accessories; and various clothes have been reproduced and tested. They are samples of the clothes that bolyars, common citizens and villagers used to wear as represented by schemes, drawings, reenactment photos and experimental results.

Medieval Bulgarians come to life!


This website studies the second Bulgarian Empire clothing paying particular attention to data on the 14th century. My main subject of study is the "living" folklore garb which was used in everyday life and which had been influenced and changed by different trends while revealing its wearer’s social position and clan. This is why I study ordinary people: bolyars, citizens, craftsmen and villagers. The ceremonial royal garb did not significantly change in time and therefore is not a subject of my interest and the same may be said about monks’ and priests’ clothing. According to my research, the medieval military equipment of the lower ranks is identical to the civil one. Therefore I sometimes use the images of soldiers and saint warriors as a reference.

My research does not claim to be exhaustive but its advantage is its constant expansion and modification due to new-found data. Large parts of it are based on well-grounded assumptions which is mostly due to the fact that no whole medieval clothing has been discovered in Bulgaria. The richest finds come from the tomb of Kaloyan in the church Sveti 40 Machenitsi in Veliko Tarnovo which has been extensively researched and reconstructed. Nevertheless the fabrics and clothing accessories found there were all in small pieces.

Bolyars’ clothing can be seen in the family portraits of donators (ktitors) painted in some medieval churches. They have the advantage of showing real people and their clothes in a multitude of reliable details, and what is more, they show them from head to toe and almost always in their natural size. Unfortunately, most of them are in a bad condition with a damaged background and some erased details, which means that they must be carefully compared to old reproductions and researchers’ descriptions before any conclusions can be drawn. It is also useful to compare them to Serbian pictures which depict similar settings in the same time period. A really thorough research of aristocratic clothing, which I have yet to make, should follow the parallels to Byzantium and Vlach frescoes.

Common people have not left their detailed and clear depictions to the future generations and the research of their appearance requires that indirect sources are used. These are mostly relics in necropoleis and the deductions of archaeologists based on them as well as some non-canonical everyday life scenes in church wall paintings. Both sources are not enough on their own because of the fragmentary nature of the findings as well as the anachronisms and fantastical elements in religious paintings. The pictures in illuminated manuscripts should also be used cautiously – some of them (including the illuminations) are copies of older works and furthermore miniatures tend to suffer some form limitations. It is helpful to compare these findings to the clothing of peoples who had cultural influence on Bulgaria – mostly Byzantine and Cuman and also the information on our clothing style before and after the period under consideration, i.e. on Proto-Bulgarian and late medieval clothing. The latter has been researched in detail by ethnographers and folklorists and therefore it is possible to find its source as well as its gradual change between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries, the introduction of new elements and the change of some of the old ones.

In order to present the data collected by me as clearly and explicitly as possible, I draw detailed pictures and illustrations of better documented costumes. When I can, I make experimental renderings of some costumes having in mind the information on textiles and accessories found (the fabrics used for making old-time Bulgarian clothes are a separate chapter of my research). In this way I get entirely practical information on cutting characteristics, on the use of an item of clothing and on the plausibility of the theories related to it. Some of my renderings are the property of my colleagues and friends from reenactment clubs; others have been parts of museum exhibitions and medieval fairs.

Up till now my research has been voluntary and has had no other motive but my love for Bulgarian history. I collect books, photos of wall paintings and museum artifacts. My friends help me in this endeavour. Everybody is welcome to join them. This is also valid for the advertisements on my website :-)

Making costumes, accessories, educational boards as well as giving presentations and performing other similar activities is open to negotiation.

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Kalina Atanasova,
(also known as Badamba, Bydymba, etc.)