Ponisavlje Museum Pirot

Ponisavlje Museum Pirot

Hristo Jovanovic Family Memorial House – The Manor of little Risto

The birth-house of Hrista Jovanovic, known also as Mali Rista /Small Rista/or Čučuk Rista, the renown and the wealthiest Pirot merchant of the 19th century, of the famous Jovanovic Family whom the Turkish pasha from Vidin allowed to built an impressive dwellings, houses nowadays the Ponisavlje Museum in Pirot. Ponisavlje Museum structure represents the best preserved and most impressive cultural monument of Pirot traditional architecture from the middle of the 19th century. It has been built in 1848 by the honorable Pirot trader, Mr Hristo Jovanovic, as the most prestige building in the town. Hrista Jovanović and his family lived in this house, as later his successors did, who changed the family name Jovanovic into Hristic family name /along the name of Hristo/. This beautiful edifice of the Ponisavlje Museum in Pirot itself at present, by its original architecture and details features all characteristics of the Balkan-oriental style.

Ponisavlje Museum in Pirot contains rich collections of traditional costumes, famous Pirot rugs, unique Pirot ceramics and pottery, furniture, copies of frescoes of nearby Medieval Monasteries and other original items of total about 6500 items. The main activity of the Ponisavlje Museum, as the regional museum institution, which by concept belongs to the category of the Memorial museum institution of the complex type, is research, preservation and presentation of cultural and artistic and historical finds, movable cultural items found on the territories of Pirot, Dimitrovgrad, Babušnica and Bela Palanka Municipalities.

On the place of the Roman fortification located on the important trans-balcanic road Via Militaris, at the very edge of the large Roman provinces of Moesia and Thracia, on the territory where the ancient – old and indigenous Balkan peoples and tribes left their traces, together with the Byzantine cultural foundations and the ancient Balkan heritage, Pirot, one of the most significant and important towns has been created. Pirot was in the first half of the 19th century one of trading centers in the Balkans, the town in which settled merchants of various parts of the Ottoman Empire. Merchants from Belgrade used to come to Pirot to buy textile, mostly rugs, clothes, canvas, socks and tailors’ staff. Bosniaks also used to come to Pirot, mostly for buying rugs and carpets. Cattle merchants from Old Serbia, Arbania and Epirus used to come to the famous Pirot cattle trading fair – panagyr. The cattle fair in Pirot was followed by the regular trading activities, where well known merchants – Greeks, Jews and Armenians brought their goods for trade : tobacco, leather, steel, coffee, wool, rice, clothes and various goods and produces. This fair enjoyed the reputation in the Balkans.
Pirot was one of the examples of the urban Balkan civilization, with developed urban lifestyle and the urban culture, where lived the urban population with characteristics of the Balkan civilization. Diligent and respected Pirot locals coped with numerous crafts and developed them during centuries, contributing to their features by own commitments, which are today recognizable worldwide. In the time when there was lack of industrial products, Pirot masters, craftsmen and artisans were able to make anything necessary for life by their hands and proper tools.

Today within the premises of the Ponisavlje Museum there are the Gallery, the Souvenir shop and the authentic restaurant with beautiful garden where is served amazing traditional food, prepared by exceptional food masters. This uniquely pleasant Pirot space is often used in our packages, for representation of well-preserved cultural heritage to our customers who gladly taste the exciting and authentic Pirot delicacies – kackavalj matured cheese, Pirot pressed sausage, produced exclusively of highest quality sheep meat and beef, but also of donkey, horse and goat meat …

Pirot rug weawing

The beginning of Pirot rug weaving tradition dates back to the 16th century, followed by the sheep-breeding expansion and farming development in Stara Planina Mt. Ornaments, their shape and colors make Pirot’s rug recognizable throughout the world. They are full of symbolism and have Byzantine, Greek, Chinese and Turkish elements modified by Pirot’s spinners’ imagination and skills. On Pirot’s rug geometric motifs most often dominates a rhombus – ornament with pre-historic tradition that also appears on ceramics, metal and bronze. Stylized form of branched tree in many varieties could be found on all oriental rugs and it is familiar to all Eastern nations.

Weaving in Pirot has been done mostly between Djurdjevdan (May 6th) and Mitrovdan (November 8th). Pirot weavin has been done outdoor, and weaved rugs have had different dimensions. The beginning and the end of handmade rug weaving were followed by some customs. Yarn preparing should have started on Monday as well as weaving itself, and the one who rugs were made for used to bring “zatkavalnik” – plentiful breakfast or lunch. After the Pirot rug is done a girl from ordering party’s house or the bride, whose wedding preparations a rug was for, would bring a round bread, cheese and onions.

If you ask any of the remaining women spinners of Pirot  what is the most important thing for rug quality you’d always get the same answer – wool. It is considered that only wool of the Stara Planina Mountain sheep is appropriate for Pirot’s rug manufacture. There are two kinds of wool: fleece wool – sheared once in a year from living sheep, and sheet wool – taken off from leather of slaughtered sheep. Sheared wool classifies by its quality is washed in hot water, rinsed in cold and dried. After that, wool is manually combed and categorized: wool of fine quality is for weaving and the rest is for making woolen clothes.

Spinning is done by a spindle and a distaff. Thicker fibers are used for Pirot rug base and they are not colored, unlike the thinner ones which are used for woof. Spun wool from the spindle is rewound on winder for straightening and after that it is winded into spools, which are later painted and whitened. Women from villages of Pirot and Stara Planina Mountain used to paint wool by themselves in nut’s and ash’s barks, as well as in onion scales. It’s been painted with natural colors for a long time, but recently appeared aniline – final colors. Old herbal colors were bright red (cinnabar), livid (indigo), bright blue and dark green, green, black, coffee-brown and yellow. After painting yarn is being carried to the Nisava River or a brook for fine washing and after that it is strained and dried. /quoted from ACE Adventure/

Pirot ceramics Pirot Pottery

Pirot was the center of ceramics manufacture in the 19th century with more than 40 pottery manufacturers and ceramics workshops that used to produce over 70 different ceramics products. The uniquely colorful hand-made pottery – Pirot ceramics was used as the kids’ playing toys as well as the every-day pottery and brandy and wine cups.

The Pirot jewellery

The authentic „Pirot style” jewellery is strongly influenced by the Serbian Middle Ages creations. In 1896 there were 33 gold-smiths manufacturers in Pirot, who used variety of techniques for their masterpieces of jewellery work : moulding, ticking, filigree, gilding …in silver, gold, bronze, copper with addition of variery of precious stones. Dressing design and decoration in „Pirot style” had been significantly recognized among classes and in their social status and thanks to its magic features it greatly contributed to the strong belief of population of Serbia.

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