Формиране на старобългарската култура VI-XI век

Станчо Ваклинов


Formation of the Old-Bulgarian Culture

Stancho Vaklinov





The emergence of the Bulgarian state is not a chance phenomenon in the history of the European Southeast. It is a stich in the overall offensive of the «barbarian» peoples against thfe Eastern and Western Roman Empire, a stage in the formation of the new European culture of the period of the Middle Ages.


The creation of the state on the part of yesterday’s nomads in the steppes of the Black Sea region — the forefathers of Bulgaria, the gradual slavinization of this state and its transformation, from standpoint of its nature, into a Balkan-Mediterranean formation is primarily the result of the internal socio-historic development of the two basic ethic components which buttress its strength — the Slavs and the Bulgarians. This state represents the completion of social and economic processes which have stemmed far back in the Lower-Danubian lands and the Balkans — in the Middle and Easteuropean expanses unth the Slavs, and in the steppes and Inner Asia and the Black Sea regions — with the forefathers of Bulgaria (the Old-Bulgarians). At the same time its creation in the year 680 marks the beginning of a complex social and cultural development which transforms thé recent «barbaric» — in the eyes of the inhabitants of the old empire — country into a hearth of a new civilization of an all-European significance.


The Bulgarian culture and arts of the Middle-Ages share the complex fate of the Bulgarian state and of the Bulgarian people. Formed as a result of a process of complex cultural and artistic interrelations as early as the first two stages of the state’s life, this culture and art acquirestamina and strength in the following ages which enables them to weather all vicissitudes of the historic fate of the people and of the Bulgarian state since they are closely tied not only to the state but to the people as well. Twice in the period of the Middle-Ages Bulgaria disappears from the map of Europe, but Bulgarian culture survives. It has the strength to withstand the political tremors, to assume new forms and to enrich itself without losing its role of a spokesman of the tendencies in the spiritual life of the Bulgarian nationality. The Bulgarian culture and art are inseparably linked with the fate of the Bulgarian people.


There are several periods in the development of the Bulgarian material culture and art which coincide with the development of the socio-economic life of the Bulgarian nationality.


A significant stage is mostly the one which precedes the formation of the Bulgarian state. This is the period when the culture of the separate components of the Bulgarian nationality lives an independent life closely linked with the life of its carriers before they have been in touch with one another. This period is quite long. Its starts for the separate ethnic groups — Slavs, Old-Bulgarians — from the various epochs where-from as rule they can be identified among the archaeological monuments for the characteristic traits of





their clan and national culture. If the inception of a proto-Slavic agrarian culture in the forest regions of Middle and East-Europe can, with certain stipulation, be identified with monuments of the beginning of the Iron Age, (that is approximately about the year 10G0 В. С), then it is extremely more difficult to trace those traits among the early monuments of the Hun’s clan union from the time of the II—I century В. С in the central-Asiatic steppes which, in the following ages, will become typical particularly for the Old-Bulgarian clans. The difficulty of the problem is further complicated by the fact that material monuments illustrating the life and culture of the nomad societies — as they have been until the formation of the Bulgarian state for a period of several ages — are quite scarce, and though rich in their cultural-historic semantics remain anonymous in the majority of cases among the finds of the remaining inhabitants of the steppe from the first half of the First millenium A. C. The culture of the Old-Bulgarians close to the time of their settlement along the Lower-Danube and the foundation of the Bulgarian state can be appraised on the basis of those general traits which are characteristic of all nomadic peoples which emerge in Europe following the Huns.


At the same time when the two basic ethnic components of the Bulgarian nationality are located far away from the territory of the Lower-Danube and the Balkans, there develops, along the older provinces of the one-time Roman Empire inherited from Byzantium, a local provincial-Byzantine culture. Carriers of this culture are the inhabitants of the Balkan lands who were of Thracian origin but Hellenized and Romanized, and, in addition to this, thoroughly mixed up with incomers from almost all eastern provinces of the huge Byzantine Empire. Alongside there settlers who were generally residents of cities, there were large tracts of th£ Peninsual lands occupied by barbaric clans who were settled in separate groups by the central Imperial Administration. It is thus in the VI and VII centuries — when as a result of wars of-many-years the Slavs and then the Old-Bulgarians following them settle in the Peninsula — that an ethnical conglomerate emerges in the Balkan Peninsula the culture of which is dominated by the provincial-Roman urban traditions. The local Thracian population, in as much as it survives through the decades of devastating invasions, remains cnly in the mountainous regions and barely in the next ages when the Bulgarian state already exists does it get in touch with the new hosts of the arable tracts of land in the Peninsula.


The formation of the Middle-Ages Bulgarian culture starts with the foundation of the Bulgarian state. The state plays an exclusively important role in the complex process of formation of the new culture of Slavs and Old-Bulgarians who in the X century represent one ethic whole, a new Slavic nationality. As early as the time of the foundation of the state the Central State Administration becomes a factor in the development of a culture which appears as something new for the traditional culture of Slavs and Old-Bulgarians. Already two trends of development are observed in the sphere of material culture and art. On the one hand continues the development of the old traditional forms of material everyday life strongly linked with the simple daily life of the ordinary cattle-raising and agrarian population. On the other hand there appears a sort of material and particularly artistic culture, an art which tries to discover the most appropriate for the Central State Administration monumental patterns. There emerges the monumental art whose exponents become first of all the monuments of architecture.


Naturally, task number one of the first rulers of the new state is the construction of the new State Center created as early as the seventh century in Pliska — today’s Northeast Bulgaria. The fortification of the Central Han’s Residence is primarily and naturally dictated by security considerations. The fortification equipment, however, reflects two significant construction traditions:


Pliska resp resents a huge camp-area of 23 square kilometers fortified by two defense belts. The outside one represents a land trench in the spirit of barbarian traditions. The inside town is situated almost in the middle of this fortified area and is a massive stone fortress built from cut limestone blocks. The same stone masonary is employed also in the construction of the first large representative buildings erected in the middle of the inner fort-





ress. Brick masonary has been used in some of the constructions and all this stresses the monumental nature of the palace center. The huge bodies of the palace building stand clearly on the background of the ordinary nomad home — the «yurta» and the simple semi-underground hut of the settled agricultural population. Therefore, in the administrative center of the new state emerges monumental architecture which technique and patterns are quite strange to the daily life of the Slavs and Old-Bulgarians. The roots and traditions of this architecture come from Byzantium and the Near East. From there as well stem the drafted constructions and the overall architectural concept. However, there is nothing unusual about this.


At about the time toward the end of the VII century and during the VIII century begins the construction of the Palace Centre of Pliska, Bulgaria does not have its own ‘know-how’, nor can it make use of what has remained of the ‘know-how’ in construction of the local population which had remained alive in the large towns south of the Khe-mus. The Bulgarian near of kin-clan aristocracy is forced to turn to foreign craftsmen and patterns in order to meet its need. In the same way have acted many other potentates of the early Middle-Age Europe. It is enough to cite here the example of the construction program of Charles the Great in Aachen.


In the field of monumental architecture the entire epoch which precedes Bulgaria’s expansion south of the Khemus (mountains) at the beginning of the IX century is a period of search and experimentation. Alongside the large fortified mansion in Pliska we see residental buildings of an unusual type, a schematically repetitive plan of a trisection home, tri-section bathrooms with inbuilt underfloor heating installations after a classical pattern, large water storage cisterns with a sophisticated plumbing and canalization network, etc. Alongside these in the Palace Center and outside appear massive buildings featuring a plan of two inscribed quadrates or rectangules, which, with certain probability could be interpreted to be temples, cult buildings featuring the shape of the cross inscribed in a circle. The weird and unusual for the epoch-and place plans and the undoubtedly comprehensive building programme in the first hundred years of the State Center life show not only the eclectism of builders and investors — something unescapable — but also theapparent aspiration not to repeat nor borrow patterns coming from the Christian world.


The same internal context have as well the landmarks of another monumental Bulgarian art at that time — the art of best preserved monument —the Madara Horse-Rider — represents an Iranian theme rendered meaningful in a new way both iconographically and in its manner of style. The conqueror, ruller of Bulgaria, leaves in his image and the inscription around an eternal legacy and proof which become a self-styled res gesta of the Bulgarian state for the following century and a half.


It is not a mere chance that this monument has been erected at a place which for centuries has been the meeting place of the cults — in the Hellenic and Roman epochs, then at the same time of early Byzantine Christianity so as to become the center of a new cult during the time of the First Bulgarian state — this time of the cult of the Great Turkic God Tengri. The temples and palaces under the Madara rocks consolidate a new state-religious ideology called upon to consolidate the Han’s authority — the High Priest of Tengri and in his name — the authority of the new state.


The ninth century is particularly important in the history of Bulgarian culture. Most of all the state’s expansion southward beyond the Khemus mountains, the acquisition of considerable territories from Thrace and Macedonia inhabited by Bulgarian Slavs related to those inhabiting North Bulgaria today, the annexation of vast lands from beyond the Carpathian Mountains in the Mid-Danubian table land converts the country not only into a tremendous political power but also the heir of viable and active city centers up until that moment linked with the life of Byzantium. Of still further significance to the internal and cultural life of the country has been played by the growth of the Slavic population in Bulgaria, a fact which reflects itself also on the further development of the state’s cultural and ethnic growth.





No longer does construction work restrict itself in this epoch to the capital alone — the central corner of the state. Under construction are fortified Khans’ residences outside Pliska, too. One of the so called ‘aulae’ will at the end of the century become the new capital of the state — Preslav. But in the old capital as well construction work continues in the spirit of what has been accomplished so far. The new program purposes to reccn-structthe palace center damaged in the Bulgarian-Byzantine war of 811. A large thront chamber is being built, new housing facilities are being built for the ruller. The Khan’s residence is being closed for the surrounding inhabitants of the Inner City with a new brick masonary fencing wall. New residential buildings are being erected in the surrounding ‘aulae’. Architecture in this period retains its nature of monumental grandeur and strictness. The basilica type as a urban representative building is incorporated in the repertory of constructors and investors.


In the general spirit of monumental architecture is also incorporated the modes: role of sculpture of which barely two positive monuments have been preserved — a liens figure from Pliska and one — from the ‘aule’ near the village of Tsar Krum. Both of these are different and reflect the eclecticism of artistic taste at that time. The sculptural decoration of architectural buildings in this epoch as well is implemented generally by spoils (‘spolii’) taken from the ruins of older buildings, fully in the spirit of the epoch prevalent over the entire of Europe.


The goldsmith trade is the most outstanding and brilliant applied art which gives artistic taste to the heathen epoch in Bulgaria. Several sets of belts from different places illustrate the pattern repertory and ornamental motifs. It is fully natural that this art should enjoy its bloom for it has deep roots in the artistic culture, especially of the Old-Bulgarians whose outstanding families stand at the helm of the new state. On the border line between the two epochs stands a treasure found in the town of Banat, a one-time Bulgarian province, before the incursion of the Magyars in the Mid-Danubian table land — a treasure from Nagy Saint Miklos. Its inseparable link with Bulgarian toreutics and the goldsmith art is indicated by the very finds discovered in Bulgaria, such as the famous Cup of Zhupan Sivin of Preslav, the Ring from Mutnitsa and a number of other ornamental objects found in Bulgaria; this is also proven by the inscriptions and titles engraved on some of these utensils.


Following up the development of the early Bulgarian culture and art, its representative monuments and multiple monuments of applied arts and daily life, we must note a general process taking place with them — the gradual transition from a primitive internal-continental culture featuring strong emotions lived through in family and clan traditions toward a Balkan-Mediterranean culture strongly influenced by the contemporary Byzantine and Neareastern civilizations.


Toward the second half of the IX century the Old-Bulgarian culture in its patterns connected with the daily life of the population already represents one uniform culture composed by the different traditional cultures of Slavs and Old-Bulgarians linked in one unseparable whole. While in the field of monumental arts is felt a sharp difference between the culture of the ordinary population, which as a rule stands away from these, and the culture of the rulling family aristocracy which begins to turn feudalists, on the other hand no such sharp difference is felt in the ordinary everyday life material. The sizable everyday life material in the palaces and se mi-underground trenches is one and the same.


Bulgarian culture of the Middle-Ages undergoes a profound change in the second half of the ninth century. Bulgaria accepts Christianity as an official state religion and lines up with the remaining states of Europe heirs to the old Roman provinces in the East and West. Up until yesterday heathen, the country catches up with the remaining world of the period of the early-Middle-Age Europe, not only with regard to its political significance as an important factor in the life of the European Southeast alongside Byzantium and the Karolings as she is from the beginning of the century, but also in regard to its culture.




The Bulgarian church question becomes an important political problem which definitely confronts against each other the East and West churches. A significant cultural factor which gives impetus to the country’s development is the introduction of Slavic writing and the acceptance of the Slavic Old-Bulgarian language as the official one for the country. The Greek language, so far fulfilling the role of a self-styled medium of communication for the state chancelleries between the Old-Bulgarian Turkic language and the language of the Slavic population of the peninsula, takes a backstage position. Chased away from Moravia, the students of Cyrill and Methodius find a fatherland in Bulgaria as well as the complete support of the Bulgarian Prince’s home. Their accomplishment is the appearance of a new, fresh and original literature in Old-Bulgarian language placed from its very beginning exclusively and primarily in the service of the church and the new Christian ideology. The final decades of the ninth century represent, in the field of the overall cultural life of the country, a deep change and the beginning of a flourishing period. The overall upsurge brings Bulgaria, in the first half of the tenth century, up to a general political bloom. A reverberation of this bloom is felt particularly clearly in the applied and monumental arts. An important cultural center during this epoch becomes the new capital of the country, the Great Preslav built under the auspices of an ambitious and cultured ruller — Prince and then Tsar Simeon. An intense cultural and construction work, fine arts and literary activity take place in the Western sections of Bulgaria which become a diocese for Kliment and Naum (students of Methodius) sent by Prince Boris-Mikhail on a special church-and-cultural mission in the region of the big lakes in Western Macedonia, Kutmichevitsa and Devol.


The nature of Old-Bulgarian culture is most clearly expressed in the tenth century in the construction and art life of the Preslav capital. In addition to the expansion of the town and its fortification, there takes place reconstruction work and new construction of the palace quarter. The town itself expands with some new buildings. Behind the representative buildings emerges a yard featuring residential and economic quarters. The white-ctone combination of the palace town stands forth on the background of the mountain sidges creeping on which is the fortification wall of the Outer City. Outside the fortified rity hug themselves in the luxuriant vales and fore-mountain vicinities monasteries and villas where monk-writers, men-of-letters and representatives of the feudal aristocracy lived. In fact the new Bulgarian capital represents a lively fortified palace, a princely residence which in course of the ages will gradually become a typical town of the feudal €poch as it approaches the identity of its internal life.


Sculpture as well offers interesting problems in the period of the VII to X century. In this epoch and in that part of the Balkan Peninsula — as well as all over Europe — there exist certain patterns and techniques from late antiquity and the early Byzantine epoch in sculptural ornamentics. The gradual and lengthy acquisition of the artistic heritage and the formation of a new sculptural style which is already Middle-Age type in context and its artistic patterns ends up here with the emergence of a phenomenon to the Balkan nature of which is little appropriate the title of a ‘pre-Romanstyle’. The examination of this type of monuments on Bulgarian lands show the obvious connection of these works with created ones in this epoch in the Byzantine studios. The rich repertory of patterns show an outstanding variety of the decorative motifs and the technique employed. We meet the antique acanthus, ovolos, grooves, but quite often vine leaves, grape clusters, dried-up and roughened water leaves, richly situated over large areas, also geometric compositions in rosettes and palmettos. Particularly characteristic of the ninth and tenth century sculpture are the intertwined with plant motifs images in the sculptured embellishment. The gryphon and the hare are the favorite motifs of these compositions.


The cornices are separated by a particularly rich harmony of various motifs, the combination of a torus with denticules in different variants being the most widespread. All this treasure of the sculptural works from the end of the ninth and the beginning of the tenth century is shown in the second Bulgarian capital — Preslav. But there are monuments whose sculptural embellishment are an exclusive phenomenon in their style and rich-





ness and quite rare for the art of the Byzantine style of this epoch. Totally unusual for classic sculpture are the plant motifs and their combination on some cornices, the capitals with animal prothometa, the rhythm and elegance of palmettos and the leaves in the Round church. Some of these show an influence of the old schools of the eastern sculptural decoration. All this combined with the marble details, with the incrustation of multicolored glazed ceramics adds originality to the stone embellishment with no equal one in eastern art.


Quite sometime before the creation of the truly Roman style in the Middle-Age European sculpture, in Preslav appear tri-dimentional sculptural works of excellent technical and style combination. These are elements of external embellishment of church façades which cannot be of later date than the middle of the tenth century. Heads of lions and lionesses, drain pipes with lions’ snouths, toruses, denticules and «wolves’ teeth» and the traditional leaves. The expressiveness of the huge stylized heads has been stressed also by a colorful element — eyes and lines colored in red with incrustated paste of mortar mixed up with crushed brick. Judging from the expressive head of monkey we can assume that there were, it seems, in the appointment of the church, parts embellished with other animals.


This richness of animal embellishment, the ripeness of the style and the artistic finish and combination of the various techniques employed are the product of an evolution in the Bulgarian sculpture which lasts longer than two centuries. The beginning of this evolution is marked by the monumental rock relief of the Madara Horse-Rider — a distant reminiscence of antique Iranian artistic practice. The various stages of ripeness of the new Middle-Age style are marked by different works in genre, decorative context and expertise of craftmanship in which the antique principles go through an evolution to become unrecognizable. This is a slow and endless process and it fills one whole epoch of artistic build-up in which the barbarian tastes are mixed up with Byzantine-Iranian techniques and repertory. The works of a later date with the same subject (for instance the much loved lions’ heads) differ greatly in the space which they devote on the one side to motifs and techniques classical, Hellenistic-Roman, and, on the other — to ‘Roman’ motifs and techniques. The variety, which has in a way an eclectic nature, reached in the works of the IX and X centuries — in the search of realization — a state in which the ‘pre-Roman’ traits in the liveliness of the motifs, the subjects and the technique used approach Late Antiquity. The novelties of this evolution, which make the way for antique art toward the Roman art, appear in the Eastern regions of the Balkan Peninsula together with the works of sculpture in the Western parts of the Peninsula, mainly Dalmatia. The development of the sculpture in the Middle-Age East and West in the VIII to X centuries, the appearance in the East Mediterranean of ‘pre-Roman’ culture and its growth into a Roman one can be included in the Eastern sections of the Balkans. It cannot be said, however, that herein the use of these two terms have any connection at all with the Roman West. Moreover, if in the sculpture we discover traits and close tendencies with the pre-Roman Dalmatian sculpture and this in Italy, in the field of architecture development is quite different from that of the West.


The early periods of the Middle-Aes have not left works of monumental imitative art. The painted ceramics known under the name Preslav ceramics make it possible to throw a glance upon this unclear field of artistic culture north- east of the Balkan. There exist many data covering the local nature of production of these ceramics: workshops and kilns for baking the product, semi-finished production with traces of preparatory work, scrapped production and raw materials and tools. Some finds make it clear that from its very beginning this art is of a high style and artistic level; on the other hand, that the painters, having at their disposal a clean white surface of the tile and utensils, painted these additionally using earth paint and glazing upon then. The ornamental repertory is unusually rich and original. The use of this type of decorative means is singularly broad and rich in variety — from facings with ornamented ‘panneaux’, incrustation in ‘opus sectile’ small one-plate icons, quadrats in Old-Bulgarian Cyrillic inscriptions of Greek texts. But many tiles, rough in workmanship, where one can see





the gradual realization of the white and sometimes rose tone, witness to some type of development here on Bulgarian land. All this makes us think that this art, regardless of the fact it appeared in its advanced artistic stage and came from another place, has its own local development reaching here its peak and perfection. Indirectly, this is being ascertained by the many finds of kitchen ceramics of the same epoch in northeast Bulgaria where many kaolin finds are known to exist. A tendency is felt for the use of light-in-color material. Bu twhile the problem as to the period of this artistic production is comparatively known — the second half of the IX end X century — the problem as to the origin of this ceramics remains under question. Isolated finds in Crimea (Bakla) and Nessebur (Messemvria), similar to our examples, witness, more or less, to the proliferation of this production of Preslav. Isolated remains the painted ceramics of white clay from Athens and Corinth, and mostly so from the places at Constantinople.


In general lines, the ornamental repertory of the Preslav painted ceramics features an eastern nature. It could be connected with the style of the ceramics of the epoch of the Abassides, but its origin is not clear. Significant is the style of the painted images. Some small images of angels, saints, the Holy Mother and Child Jesus show the artistic style of the early-Byzantine epoch which precedes the formation of the classical Byzantine style of the IX to X centuries. It will be enough to point out the expressive linear technique, the frontality and expressiveness of the faces, the restricted gesture and moreover the poor tonality as well as some other traits which bring closer together this ceramic ‘imitative art’ to the picture of illustrated manuscripts of the era of iconoclasm. The only monumentally well-preserved figure is the one of the ceramics icon of Saint Theodor of the monastery in the vicinity of Patleina, composed of twenty tiles (square). The strengths and exclusive artistic value of this image is hidden in the expressive frontality, the depth of the look, the oval of the face, the harmonious thick mass of hair and beard, in the harmony of the brown-okra tones used by the painter-ceramist. He displays in the varieties of the techniques and craftmanship employed the high-level of the artists and decorators, their knowledge of older models which came along the way of book illustrations or as a remnant in the distant provinces of Byzantium far away from the leading, a little cold and stately art of the Byzantine capital. It cannot yet be ascertained what the origin of these models is and whereto the sources of this art lead. But all newly discovered monuments of this art in Preslav increasingly disclose their eastern origin: Asia Minor and Syria.


In a Russian copy of the XII century is preserved the Study Gospel of the eminent man-of-letters Constantine, student of Methodius. Together with the copy of the text is copied an image which could with great certainty be identified with that of the Bulgarian King Boris. In a field surrounded by an architectural frame, suggesting Preslav motifs, is depicted in full height Prince Boris. The handsome manly face is framed by curly hair pressed by a crown. The manner in which the face is depicted reminds us quite strongly of the images found on ceramic plates.


In the collection featuring two works of Bishop Ipolit, dated in the XII century, exists a large miniature with another image, this time of Czar Simeon. That this refers to this particular Bulgarian ruler indicates the dating of that general motif which we see on the tunic of the ruller as well as on the white clay tiles of the flooring in the church of Tuzlaluka in Preslav.


These paintings show with certainty the huge and intense work taking place in the Preslav studios. Therefore, we can with certainty speak of the rich artistic activity and of the broad avenues by way of which the artistic accomplishments of the Preslav imitative artists have left Preslav.


Particular attention in details transcedingthe scope of this study deserve the monuments of erudition and learning produced by the Preslav School. And the important thing is that besides the data on the use of the Glagolitic and Greek alphabet and writings, kn wn as well are a number of monuments of epigraphy, the signet science and graffiti written in the Cyrillic alphabet. The earliest dated monument among these is the newly discovered inscription from the Turn of the Fortress Wall, and most significant — the tombstone





inscription of Boyar Mostich of the time of Czar Peter. These known monuments indicate the development of the Cyrillic writing on Bulgarian land and its spreading over quite soon after its creation.


The second half of the X century is a time of unrest and cruel clashes between Bulgaria and its age-long enemy — Byzantium. Thirty years lasts this clash, and final} Bulgaria is down. Meantime, the Bulgarian people continue its develop ment along the road of feudalism. The capital in this epoch is far away to the west and constantly moves in the years of uncertainty until it is settled in Okhrid. Capital of the state is also Prespa.


Okhrid is an old town existing as early as the time of antiquity. One of the oldest Bulgarian monuments there is the trisectional church with the tomb of Saint Kliment. A church which can with certainty be dated in the time of Samuil is the basilica of Saint Sofia. It is established that its eastern part is probably from the second half of the X century. This, in itself fixes the dating of the oldest layer of mural scripts. Okhrid is famous for its castle. Despite the fact it was destroyed when it was captured in 1018, it is known that it has been built upon the old foundations, therefore, and in a large degree, it repeats its plan of the X century in the appearance known until that time. As regards Bulgarian constructions work in Bitoliya, there is an inscription left by Ivan Vladislav. Remarkable is also a fortified point in Belasitsa from that period built in accordance with the old traditions of fortifications in Bulgaria. Perhaps it dates back to the beginning of the XI century. Further north are the ruins of the town of Pernik still retaining its remnants of the fortress of the famous leader (voivoda) Krakra. Discovered in it is a church which quite approached Kliment’s Okhrid church in Imaret.


The church in the village of German at the Prespa Lake retains an iscription dedicated by Samuil to his father, mother and his brother David.


Exclusive attention should be given to the church on the island of Saint Ahil in the Small Lake of Prespa. This is a basilica partially well presarved in its eastern part. Remarkable in it is (besides its general plan featuring the large basilica at Pliska) also the sarcophagus containing the remains of perhaps Czar Samuil.


The second half and the end of the X century are characterized by the introduction and distribution of a shortened basilica plan in some churches. Known are the three churches: Saint Stefan, Saint Archangel Mikhail and Saint Bezsrebrenitsi in Kostur. To the east in the old Preslav capital exists a completely analogous plan. In the Outer city of Pliska there are several abbreviated basilicas (5, 8, 36). Further east, in Messemvria, the New Metropoly is so near to the examples from Kostur. Generally, this is an epoch of great variety in the constructions and plans of the churches.


Regardless of their all-Balkan «Buzantine» nature, the products of decorative and imitative arts become the exponents of the Bulgarian state spirit and culture.


In the sculpture during the epoch of Samuil — no matter how few the examples -the schematism of the composition, the conditional status of the images and the inflexibility of the entire composition are depicted. Such are particularly the remnants of the sculptural decoration of the basilica of Saint Ahil. Still more stylized are the ornamentation and the images in the architectural details of the Okhrid church Saint Sofia.


What particularly brings closer together these monuments with the series of sculptural depictions from Stara-Zagora is the technique of the relief work. When comparing these two groups of works — those of the east half of the kingdom with these of the western — the works from Preslav and from the east boundaries emerge with their style and cleanliness. The sculptural work in the two royal basilicas in Prespa and Okhrid is already being done by another generation of sculptors, decorators who continue the traditions of their predecessors and reach a further achievement in development of this flat-plane decorative style.



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