The Ethnographic museum Etar is the first open air museum of this kind opened in Bulgaria. It was established on September 7th, 1964. The museum is situated 8 km South of the town of Gabrovo. The preliminary design and methodology were done by the Gabrovian Lazar Donkov (1908 - 1976) who was also the first director of the museum. "In the museum exhibitions so far the visitor was not placed in an immediate contact with the past - Mr. Donkov writes. That is how I came to the idea of establishing an active museum in the open air ... so that the past becomes visible, easy for perception and understanding and the vast national wealth in kept."
Do you want to feel the whiff of the past, to see the miraculous power of the water, flowing in a chute, to enjoy the Renaissance architecture, to observe ancient national customs, then visit the Ethnographical Open Air museum "Etar", 8 km. Southwards from the town of Gabrovo.
The museum territory comprises 50 sites - water technical equipment, houses with craftsman's workshops, places with social importance. The aim of the museum display is showing the architecture, the life style and the economic past of Gabrovo region during the Revival period - the second half of 18 and the 19 centuries. More than 26 main crafts were developed in the town and the goods were sold in different parts of the country and in the region - Bucharest, Vienna, Marseille, Anatolia and other.
The first secular New Bulgarian school was opened in 1835. During the 30-ies of the 19th century under the favourable economic and political changes in the Ottoman empire Gabrovo grew as an important economic, educational and commercial center in the country.
The Ethnographic museum Etar was build and organized by means of three methods; on site restoration; on site preservation; transportation of originals and restoration of buildings.
The old-times water-driven machinery is an essential part of Etar ethnographical open-air museum . It's the only one of its kind. It contains ten equipments and is one of the richest and well-organized technical collections among the European museums in the open. They are the first view that visitors can see in our museum. Тhe most important characteristic feature of the exhibition is that all equipments work in the same way as they did in the past, due to the original mill-stream system dating from the end of the 18th century. The upper level of the system supplies with water the mechanical grind stone, the fulling mill, the "karadjeika"water-mill, the nap-raising equipment and the wood-turning lathe; the braid-making room, the "dolapkinia" water-mill, the wood-turning lathe for wine vessels, the saw-mill and the nap-raising equipment arew situeted on the lower level. The old times water machinery of the Etar museum has always aroused great interest among visitors. Put into operation in its natural settings and size it displays rational and constructive decisions resulting from the creative spirit of the Balkan people who have preserved through the ages the tradition of using water as a driving force.
The water used as a driving force finds its greatest application in the braid-making and more specifically in the braid knitting.
The beginning of the mechanical braid-knitting dates back to the first decades of the 19th century when the first Bulgarian machine - the so-called "tchark" came into use. Many Bulgarian blacksmiths, mainly watch-makers, transferred their workshops for tchark-making that were sold in the braid-making centers - Karlovo, Kalofer, Sopot etc. In the 1830s the beginning of braid-knitting started up turned to one of the highly-developed crafts in the region during the 1860s. The number of machines went up to 700-800 and the production up to 1.5 min rolls. The water as a driving force contributed to the high development of the braid-knitting process. The existing tradition and the various water-powered equipments became the main reason for that.
The living premises and the workshops are detached in the so called "craftsmen's street ". Sixteen architectural patterns of Gabrovo district depict the talent and skill of the Renaissance builders. Different interiors, homemade weaving, icon painting are shown on the second floors of the houses. On the ground floors numerous crafts are revived: there are workshops for sandals, a furriery, a coppersmith, cow-bells workshop, pottery making workshop, workshop for silverware and woodcarving, for producing carts, national folk instruments, a cutlery, bakery and confectionery with a coffee shop, as well as a rich collection of medicinal plants and herbs. There the craftsmen are manufacturing different products and selling them directly from the workshops. In this way the visitors enjoy the opportunity to observe the ancient technologies, the original instruments, to have a conversation with the masters. They can bay a handmade hammered knife, wooden bowl, copper coffee pot, patterned earthen jug, silver jewelry, a Gabrovian rug, icon with a wood-carved icon-stand, or a curing medicines from the herbs-selling shop a souvenir to memorize their trip in Etara.
Special Thanks to http:// www.etar.org/