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    The people living in the Bulgarian lands have been renowned for their skills and excellence in the arts and crafts ever since ancient times. Even blind Homer paid homage to the Thracian smiths in his lliad, describing the magnificent shield of one of the local warriors. This tradition survived in the next few centuries too. Settling on lands where the ancient Greek and Roman civilization had once prospered, Bulgarians and Slavs continued a tradition that dated back to the dawn of time. A tradition which they developed and enriched. Many Bulgarian towns flourished as artisan centres. Archaeology proves that the masterpieces wrought by Buigarian craftsmen sold all over Europe and even left a mark on arts and crafts in neighbouring and more distant countries.
    The arts and crafts died after Bulgaria was: conquered by the Ottoman Turks. However they were soon reborn and were even in demand by the conquerors. Thanks to their unrivalled skills, Bulgarian artisans were held in high esteem. That is how a second, unofficial, centre of power developed in the cities. This authority was not repressive but was more respected than the government since it enforced norms and laws that preserved the Bulgarian community. Besides, the guilds supported institutions such as schools and community library clubs, as well as other kinds of patriotic activities. The master smiths, potters, masons and engravers were indeed la creme de la creme of society. There are many folk songs and legends about them. Everyone knows the fascinating tales about master craftsmen competing for, the love of a beautiful maiden with their exquisite items, about their yearning to attain the unattainable, about the Boyana Master who has gone down in history as the harbinger of Renaissane.
    Apart from the professional artisans, ordinary people developed household crafts. Bulgarian museums boast collections of folk costumes with striking patterns of fabric and colour. Many everyday utensils also suggest that Bulgarians had a singular flair for harmony and beauty.
    The pragmatic new age after the Liberation (1878) eventually saw the closure of work-shops on the scale they once enjoyed. Fortunately, however, the tradition of folk arts and crafts - a tradition that takes us back to the roots of civilization - has survived to the present day.