Wood-carvers prove their knack through a bet as 200 years ago
For ages people have proved superiority over each other in different ways – from making wars and organizing of duels in ancient times and Middle ages to sports races and reached up to nowadays. Once the bet was wide spread along Bulgarian territory. Bet was proceeded in different ways – who is better dancer or singer, who can drink more wine or who can invent more beautiful house ceiling.
This year 200th anniversary of the bet between the master woodcarver from Tryavna and his journeyman was celebrated and that is considered to be the first art competition in Bulgaria.
Exactly on St. Dimitri’s Day /26 October/ in Tryavna the monumental wooden plastic called “Tryavna’s column” was unveiled. It was the climax of the events dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the historical bet in Daskalova house. The pretty Balkan town is particularly popular with its renowned school in wood-carving.
The legends tell that 200 years ago, exactly on St. George’s Day – 6th May, master Dimitri Oshanetza and the journeyman Ivan Bochukovetza betted regarding the workmanship of wood-carved ceilings. They both were working in the course of six months without knowing what each other one was making. On Dimitri’s Day they finished their work and the citizens of Tryavna were lost in astonishment when they found out they both had made beautiful suns. At present they can be seen at the ceilings of one of the loveliest Tryavna’s houses of the Bulgarian national revival – the Daskalova one. As a sign for gratitude towards the masters of old 88 wood-carvers – as many as the rosettes with flowers in the ceiling of master Dimitri Oshanetza have made a special column. For its making a 208 year old oak from Strandja was used.
“Tryavna’s column is a plastic art which has several symbolical elements, tells Master Darin Bojkov, offspring woodcarver and author of the project.
By means of it we present Tryavna’s school as mother who gave birth to us, brought us up and raise us. In its womb an Aquarius made of wood-carved plates worked out by the wood-carvers, is depicted. Everyone has made some sign. And in the end these plates are built in the old oak. Thus we, the present wood-carvers express our reverence and respect to the old masters and show that 200 years after the bet in Daskalova house, we and art still exist. In addition the five elements are presented on the column according to the proto – Bulgarian calendar – fire, water, metal, wood and earth. Thus we want to emphasize one more time that we are Bulgarians. The symbol of Tryavna’s school in wood-carving, which is a specific heraldic emblem, is also depicted.”
Nowadays the tradition in which masters compete with each other in order to show their knack as they bet also continues.
Darin Bojkov himself won the title “master” in 1992 after a bet similar to this one in 1808. Then the fourth wood-carvers, graduated the National Academy of Arts, betted regarding who is more skillful master. They work from St. George’s Day to St. Dimitri’s Day just like the old masters. In the end the Tryavna’s guild in wood-carving and the professors Anton Donchev and Kancho Tzanev inspected the workmanship and listened to the public defence of the competing men. Through secret voting it conferred the title “master”, which means grand master and put the red belt, symbol of mastery on Darin Bojkov. His wooden gate made of oak, weighing over 4 tones is impressive. Last year master Darin Bojkov and several masters from Tryavna again gave themselves up to the challenge, but this time it was who would make more beautiful interior of a room in the old house of the Bulgarian national revival known as Kalincheva house. The competition was won by master Darin for second time.
“I wanted to do it in a way that when a person enters in this room he will not feel it as a museum.” he says.
“I needed an element which was an accent and at the same time it organized the interior – the master explains – After a sleepless night I had the idea that the depiction of the Old Bulgarian alphabet – Glagolhic alphabet – on the ceiling was just what I was looking for.
Besides the perfect graphic and phonetic system, each letter of the ancient alphabet bears philosophic sense. For example „the letter A” of the Bulgarians is a symbol of the faith,” the letter B” of God, there are also letters for е Sun, Moon, stars, grass and seed, wild animals and fish. So everything lying under the Sun is depicted in the letters of the Glagolhic alphabet. Or – if the Sun is depicted in the Daskalova house, I have depicted everything lying under it through the Glagolhic alphabet.”
Listening to master darin, one understands how much symbolism, life philosophy and wisdom every master puts into his works. And besides the fact that you can see them only in Tryavna, you yourselves can take the instruments and convince yourself that a lot of things are needed for this art – talent, wish, knowledge and sense of beauty. и And in the end it is good to finish just like the old masters after the end of the competition – at a copious table with a glass of sparkling wine in a hand.