Day after day, for centuries on, the untiring, skilful hands of the Bulgarian women embroidered a richness of elements in the Bulgarian embroideries. Each ornament or sign has its own meaning and carries a hidden symbolism, embedded consciously or intuitively, in order to gift something to man. Called upon in the name of fertility, weddings , riches, kids, victories, longevity or something else, these wishes give shape to the decorations and colourfulness of the dresses, carpets, rugs and everything else, which is touched by the body and the senses. They are like charms, crafted intricately, to bear and bring good. Among them is the IYI sign – one of the most ancient, unarguably Bulgarian symbols. It is hard to determine when exactly it came into use. Our ancestors placed it on fort walls, cliffs, flags, amulets, on bones used for divination, on rite breads, as well as on different objects of daily life. This means that it was exceptionally important to them. The ancient Bulgarian symbol is present even on the ceramics from Mino- an Cyprus dating back from XVI century BC. The early Christians used the IYI sign before the appearance of the cross and later on – alongside it. The IYI symbol was a sign of the Dulo clan, from which descended the great Bulgarian rulers Kubrat and Asparukh, it was the seal of Ivan Shishman and a symbol of Boris or Simeon. Several scientist determine it as a symbol of Tangra (Tengri), although he was depicted with a circle with a dot in the middle. It is a common opinion that the IYI sign is more likely a Sun symbol, linked with the seven planets, which the ancient Bulgar- ians knew and observed. They worshipped the Sun, as a supreme deity, personified by Tangra. “Tangra is the spirit of the Universe. He has no image and personification, be- cause an image is something, but the spirit is everything and everything is just spirit.” In this sense, the IYI sign symbolizes the might- iness of the all. The earthly ruler as a vicar of the gods among people, is identified with the strength of unity and power. Others decipher in the symbol an abbreviation of the name of the supreme Thracian god Sabazios. It is possible that the mysterious ancient symbol IYI was transported to Asia by Thracian tribes who inhab- ited our land, as evidenced by many historical sources. Its wide use and dissemination give reason to assert with certainty, that it had a protec- tive function as a carrier of divine magical power.

A hypothesis exist, that the IYI sign is a stylized depiction of three people, the middle of which is in a praying position, with hands lifted towards the sky, whereupon this sym- bolises the trinity in the governance of soci- ety. It is assumed that, during the great An- tiquity, the IYI symbol represented a human figure between two animals. Similar images are found not only in Trace, but on island Crete, in India, Egypt and Schumer as well.

The inscriptions on the Pliska Rosette, support the theory of the divine and astronomical sense of the IYI sign which is placed on its back. A sym- bol of the Sun, around which are placed all the seven planets, depicted with runes. The mysterious IYI symbol is connected with an ancient wit- ting system used on the Balkans. Over 40 ancient Bulgarian runes have parallels with sings inscribed during the Bronze Age in Trace, Minor Asia, Crete and Greece. They precede those from Crete and Peloponnes with centuries . All the sings on the Pliska Rosette have equivalents among the ancient writings of Europe. With this fact, the IYI sign confirms that we are the descendants of a people that played an incredibly important role in the formation of European history.

Crossed over through centuries, firmly and deeply ingrained in our birth memories, the IYI sign comes to us as a dear memory and a mystic charm in the embroideries, a dedication to the ritualism of several Chris- tian holidays and as a enlightening call of erudition, to protect us and to reminds us of the strength of the divine spirit.

Eng. Ginka Stoeva, PhD

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