Bulgaria History – First Kingdom of Bulgaria

With the foundation of the Bulgarian kingdom around 679 and its recognition by Byzantium following the peace treaty of 681, the era of the great Migrations in the Balkan peninsula ended, with the ethnic, social and cultural changes it had brought about. Towards the seventies of the century. 7 ° in the Bulgaria danubiana came the Protobulgari (v.) Of the Western group, a new force destined to play an important role on the political scene, right up to the Middle Ages, in the development of thought and culture in South-Eastern Europe. The Protobulgars – so called by modern historiography to distinguish them from the residents, known as Bulgarians, of the state of southeastern Europe in medieval and modern times – were composed of bloodlines from Central Asia, originally linked together by a coalition, and belonged to the Turkish-Altaic linguistic group. In their first phase (up to the last third of the 9th century) the culture and art of the first Bulgarian kingdom remained largely in the tradition of the Proto-Bulgarian ethnic component. Both the monumental buildings of the capital Pliska and the works of toreutics – eg. the Nagyszentmiklós treasure (Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Mus.) and the Sibin chalice (Preslav, Arheologitcheski reservat muz.) -, both monumental sculpture – eg. the relief with the knight of Madara and the fragments of architectural sculpture by Pliska, Preslav, Stara Zagora and Zar Krum (Sofia, Nat. arheologitcheski muz.; Stara Zagora, Okrajen Istoritcheski muz.) – are very close from an iconographic and stylistic point of view to Central Asian art. Only with the expansion of the new capital, Preslav (end of the 9th century), the classical tradition prevailed, marking the new antiquing style of Bulgarian monumental art (ornamentation and architectural decoration of the Tsar’s palace and the rotunda). A typical feature of the region is the glazed ceramic, which found many ways of use in the representative buildings of Preslav, not only to decorate the facades, but also in the form of large or small panels intended for external and internal wall cladding or for floors. The figurative decoration ranges from abstract geometric motifs, often resolved in complicated open solutions (rosettes in Sofia, Nat. Arheologitcheski muz.), To strongly stylized phytomorphic ornaments and images of saints: icon of St. Theodore, medallion with the effigy of an angel (Sofia, Nat. arheologitcheski muz.), icon decorations (Preslav, Archeologitcheski reservat muz.). The wall mosaics of the rotunda also featured glazed ceramic tiles, alongside those of glass.

According to a2zdirectory, no trace has been preserved of the fresco decoration of the buildings of the capital, of which we know through the sources, just as nothing remains of the miniatures of the Preslav school, whose existence is attested only by Russian copies of the century. 11th (St. Petersburg, Saltykov-Sčedrin, Ostromir Evangeliary). With the proclamation of Christianity as the state religion, in 865 a phase of intense building activity began throughout the territory of the first Bulgarian kingdom. In the last third of the century. 9 ° the great cathedrals of the metropolitan seats mainly follow the basilica scheme on pillars, even when it comes to remodeling of pre-existing buildings (churches dedicated to the Divine Wisdom of Sofia, Nessebar and Ochrida, great basilica of Butrint); only in exceptional cases are there buildings with a central plan (roundabout in Preslav, church of the monastery of St. Naum on Lake Ochrida) or polyconchi (church in Saranda). Starting from the sec. 10 ° the domed churches and those with a reduced basilica scheme predominate (Kastoria, Nessebar, Pliska). The walls with squared ashlars or mixed techniques (Episcopal basilica of Pliska, churches of Preslav), typical of the northern and central regions of the Balkans, were replaced in the South by building techniques of a more distinctly decorative nature (cloisonnées walls or alternating courses of stone and brick), which, during the century 10 °, also spread in the central Balkan areas (Bojana, Separeva, Banja). The monumental painting of the churches of the late century. 9th and early 10th centuries appears linked to the regional tradition of paleochristian ancestry, which in the central Balkans was not affected by the iconoclastic struggle (S. Demetrius in Patalenica, the oldest paintings of S. Leonzio of Vodoča, the first layer of paintings in the S. Giovanni di Zemen and in Ss. Anargiri di Kastoria), keeping their iconographic and stylistic features unchanged. Alongside the local tradition and the influences of the Christian East, one can also grasp relations with the contemporary painting of southern Italy, relationships that can be traced back to the close contacts between the Bulgarian Church and Rome in the last third of the century. 9 ° and also to the direct influence of shops in southern Italy (S. Stefano and the church of the Archangels in Kastoria).

Starting from the last third of the century. 10 ° in Bulgarian monumental painting there are significant changes in the stylistic field; moreover, in a series of buildings one can recognize the work of a painter’s workshop active between 972 and 996 in the patriarchal cathedrals of Serdica, Prespa and Ochrida and in the episcopal church of Strumica. In these works the ancient ideal of beauty is transformed, giving life to a new synthesis of sensual and moral beauty. The general proportions, the balance of the composition and the harmonious movement of the figures respect the rules and canons of the classical art. At the same time, however, a renewed monumentality and an accentuation of expressiveness emerge that have nothing in common with ancient art: the eyes, and in particular the pupils, are represented in a disproportionately large way; the gaze thus takes on a magical power that exercises an exceptional appeal on the observer, giving the expressive effect a predominant role.

Bulgaria History - First Kingdom of Bulgaria