"In previous museum exhibitions, the viewer could not be put in direct contact with past reality. All this was the reason - to give me the thought of creating a functioning open-air museum - so that the past could be seen, easily understood and understood, so that this vast national treasure could be preserved. "

With this concept of Lazar Donkov in 1964, the first museum of its kind in Bulgaria - Etara, appeared. It houses 50 sites - houses with craft workshops, mills, water facilities and other buildings. This rich museum exhibit reveals the way of life, architecture and business history of the Gabrovo region during the Renaissance (18 - 19 century). A time when over 26 crafts flourish and find a market in Bucharest, Vienna, Anatolia.

The most important feature of the sites at AEC Aether is that they are all presented more authentically, as they have functioned in the past.

Sixteen houses, exact replicas of buildings that existed in Gabrovo and the region, can be seen on the central shopping street here. Beautiful and comfortable, the homes were built facing the street so that the craftsman would have direct contact with customers. The streets are narrow, dense, with the eaves of the houses even touching in places. Two-storey, with carved bay windows, with rosettes on the doors and spacious porches - the Revival buildings show the good economic status of the Gabrovo people.

In this "craftsman's box", uniting the sixteen architectural designs, visitors can observe the authentic technology used by the craftsmen and also buy from the products created before their eyes.

A number of crafts are presented at AEC Aether:

Coppermaking (Coppermaking) - during the Renaissance it specialized mainly in the production of household and church vessels. The reason - copper is the most malleable and softest of all metals, and also the most heat-conducting. Thus, it is highly applicable to vessels in contact with fire, while allowing them to be given more specific shapes.

Because copper (copper) is easily oxidized, these vessels are periodically tinned or silver plated.

In the past, the bakers themselves made the copper sheets that they used to make the dishes. With a knock, they gave the necessary shape to the walls and the bottom, and then proceeded to the decoration. Mainly household products were made - trays, jars, boilers, kettles, scoops, glasses, coffee shops, wine, brandy.

In Etara, the bakery industry is presented in the house with a Trifon Kanev workshop in Gabrovo.

Mutafchiysk craft is one of the best developed in the past. It is associated with the raising of goats, from which fur is made special products. Weave mainly bags for carrying various goods, horse belts and gear bags for horses. The most characteristic of the Gabrovo region are the large presses (sacks of grain) and rugs in the natural colors of the coat.

Blacksmithing - a blacksmith in the past was called anyone who worked metal. This craft distinguishes several areas, with the greatest development among them the knife. Gabrovski knives made their products of iron and steel. Three types of knives are most characteristic:

  • kainakli - these are cheap knives for the masses. In these, steel forms only the cutting part and the tip of the blade.
  • high-quality weaponry and professional products - they are sharpened (crushed) several times by steel and iron until they become a homogeneous mixture. The blades, swords, yataghans, made in this way are strong, firm, sharp and at the same time resilient.
  • razors and some special types of products - their blades are forged only from steel pieces.
  • folding knives were also created, called cheekies (soybeans, jays) - a small-sized knife whose blade folds and hides in a handle formed by a tree or horn. Different types of scissors were produced, both for household and professional purposes.

Poverty - from the Arabic "sarach" (saddle). Horse harnesses, harnesses, belts, suitcases, bags, belts, holsters, mullets and more are made. Sheep, goats, cattle and pigs were used as the main material.

Cotton - or production of wrought-iron flakes. In the past, cotton prevented the animal from being lost. The difference in tones was a sign of ownership to avoid mixing herds.

The first made bells are called "Thracians" - flattened and with a rather bad sound, which is why their demand is not great. Another species were the "horned", and the most numerous were the so-called "Round" claps.

The process of mastering them is quite complex. They are pattern-cut and cold-knocked on iron molds. This is followed by hot knocking (the sheet is heated and beaten). In order to obtain the cotton voice, it is smeared with a mixture of bronze, borax, salt and yellow earth and welded. For the finale, put the tongue and proceed to bring the voice of the cotton. It depends on her mouth, the thickness of the sheet, and the welding. "Every cotton should sing with its own voice," said the masters.

Shekherdstvo - according to the old technology at AEK Aether, today you can taste sugary products that carry the authentic spirit of the past - sugar loops, halvah, sesame seeds, locum, as well as the famous local "white sweet".

In the Ethereal oven, the famous simid bread is cooked daily, flavored with aromatic chilled yeast.

In addition to the craft houses, there are also several static workshops in the complex.

В The Charlemagne you can get acquainted with the process of producing thick vegetable fat - charlane, which is obtained through complex and laborious procedures of different nuts (nuts, sesame, flax and poppy seeds, sunflower).

Tobacco is a workshop for the processing of buffalo, cows, oxen, calves, horses, donkeys, cutters and more. The treatment consisted of three main steps - refreshing and cleansing the skin, liming and tanning.

The most typical of Gabrovo were four types of skins: papukchi garb of buffalo and large ox skins; küssele - semi-finished gypsum for tsarulas and smaller horse and beef skins; machines made of sheepskin, used for the face and lining of shoes; sahteni - for use as machines, but of goats' skins.

Most notable in Tabakhana is the large veranda, which at the expense of the small dwelling used for drying the skins.

Etara also houses the only collection of folk water technology in Bulgaria. This is the reason why the water wheel serves as the emblem of the complex. All ten sites are in operation, as in the past, thanks to a two-level welded on-site welding system. The sites are presented in their natural environment and size, which cause great interest for visitors.

On the first level are located Tocilo, Tepavitsa, Karadjika Watermill, Gabrovo valyavitsa and Strug for shelters.

Rollers - wool fabrics (blankets, quilts, robes) are "rolled" in them to soften and obtain a mossy surface. The Etara exhibits 2 cylinders - one typical of Gabrovo and the other transferred from the village of Stokite, Sevlievo.

Since the 30 years of the 19 century, rollers have been used mainly for washing sheets and blankets.

Lathes - they are made of various in shape, size and function of wooden objects - harbors, hats, parallels, shells, etc. In the complex you can see two lathes - one for shelters and the other for buckles.

Tupavitsa - Primitive processing facility for woolen, home made fabrics and braid. After this treatment the material became stronger and more dense.

Sharpened - used for sharpening of axes, carpenters, knives, etc. Its appearance is related to the development of the knife craft in the region.

Karageika Watermill - the oldest operating site in the museum, built as early as 1780. Its name derives from the Turkish word "kara" (black), since the flour becomes dark when milled.

On the second level of the complex are the Gaytanjji Ode, Dolapknia Vodenitsa, Buklik Struga, Bichkadzhinitsa and Valyavitsa from the village of Stokite.

Bichkadzhinitsa (stringy) - used for scouring boards and boards.

Dolapinia Watermill - has the same function as the Karadjika, and its name is due to the "dolap" water wheel that drives it.

Gaitanjia oda - Gaytang is one of the most developed crafts in the area during the 60 years. In Etara, this facility was transferred from the Tepavitsite locality near Gabrovo. Particularly interesting is its door, on which are recorded various natural disasters - floods, snowfall in May and others.

It is adjacent The Dyehouse, in which they are fitted, a fireplace for combing the braid, said paintings, places for shrinkage of the finished braid and other accessories.

During the 2013, the Etar Architectural and Ethnographic Complex was awarded the prize "For Preserving and Promoting Bulgarian Folk Crafts and Traditions".

Every year, folk customs are restored here during holidays such as Lazarovden, St. George's, Enyovden, and Ilinden. During the first weekend of September, an International Folk Crafts Fair is held during which masters from home and abroad present their works.

In Etara, various children's competitions are organized for making scarecrows, martenitsi and swaddles.

On the territory of the architectural reserve there are hotels and restaurants where visitors can relax in nature and the authentic Bulgarian spirit and taste traditional dishes prepared according to old local recipes.

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