Projects and Science



Bulgaria, spindles 2

Bulgarian spindles come in different sizes, the length of these ranging from 10.31" to 16.29". While one may well hold the shorter ones permanently in one´s hand rotating them between the fingers (above middle) it is better to use the very long, heavier specimens with their tip supported on the ground or in a dish. For clear size comparison, the longest and the shortest spindle were placed directly next to each other (on the right). Optionally spindle whorls can be stuck to the lower end thus transforming them to drop-spindles. You can find such a spindle depicted on the page for Greece.

Bulgaria, spindles with whorl

Bulgarian spindles with spindle whorls made of wood and stone (far right). The spindle on the left has a spiral-shaped notch at the top while the others have small knobs. Lengths: 10.23" – 10.7"; whorl diameters: 1.5" (stone whorl) – 2.55".

Drop spindle (left) and drop- or supported spindle (right). In many years of use the spun threads wound around the shaft of the smaller spindle have cut into the wood and created a grooved surface structure (detail left). Lengths: 13.38" and 16.73".
Bulgaria, top whorl spindle
Wooden top-whorl-spindle (plying spindle) with iron hook at the top, 19th century. There are four notches on the edge of the whorl for the ply yarn. Length 15,7", whorl: 3,58" diameter. Heavy spindles of this type (this one weighs 139.55 g) were usually not used for spinning but for plying two or more yarns together. In a publication from 1910 you can read up how this was done. There plying spindles from Romania are pictured and the work process is described (see "Plying spindels", Romania).

Bulgaria, short distaff
Short wooden distaff. 1st half 20th century. Length: 16,92". While long distaffs are mainly used for spinning flax, wool is rather spun with the help of short distaffs.
Bulgaria, distaff_2
Carved wooden distaff with mirror. Early 20th century. Length: 51,18".
Bulgarischer Spinnrocken mit Spiegel
Painted distaff with mirror made of very light wood. A number of distaffs from the Balkans display inserted little mirrors. Was the spinner vain? Hardly. Aside from being decorative the mirrors probably have an apotropaic function. 19th century. Length: 40,15", weight with mirror: 250.20 g.
Bulgarische Spinnrocken
Bulgarian distaffs. Left: wood, 19th century, length: 39.76". Right: wood and metal , 1800s, length: 43".

Bulgarischer Spinnrocken
Bulgarian distaff. Length: 40.55"; Width: 6".


Bulgarien_kurze Spindeln_2

Short, wooden distaffs. Carved on both sides with traces of former white incrustation* in the grooves and carved triangles. Lengths: 18.9“ (left) and 16.9“ (right).
*incrustation = filling in indentations with a white mass

Vintage yarn winder with spindles. Height (without spindles): 11.8”; Length of a spoke (total width): 23.6” (2x 11.8”). Spindle lengths: 11” to 12.2”.




Bulgaria, woman spinning
Bulgarian women spinning with spinning wheel and hand-spindle.
Markt in Tryavna
Marketplace in Tryavna. Woman selling the typical Bulgarian spindles (left) and two women spinning - a woman using dark wool in the picture just to the right of the spindle vendor and a woman with white wool approximately in the middle of the image. 1932.

Ottomanischer Spinnrocken und Foto 1943, Bulgarien






Upper right:
Photogravure of a Bulgarian girl spinning, 1943 (Photographer: Dr. Martin Hürlimann). The girl is spinning with a Bulgarian spindle (detail left) and a distaff.

Ottoman/Turkish distaff from Bulgaria, painted wood, 19th century, length: 41.3". This type of distaff can not only be found in Bulgaria but also in other Southeast European countries.

Bulgaria, distaff 4
Wooden distaffs. Lengths: 42.91" and 46.25". 19th century.


Bulgaria, distaff

Wooden distaff. Length 37”; Width of the blade 4.3”




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