Tsarvuls /tsarvuli/ were the traditional footwear of Bulgarian peasants;
nowadays they can be more frequently seen in
urban environment rather than in rural areas. Found as exhibits in the
ethnographic museums, they can also be purchased from stylish souvenir shops
and often used to decorate the living-rooms of learned people and the nouveau riche.
Being a synonym of poverty, ignorance and backwardness in the past,
tsarvul was taken as a mark of respect for the national folk tradition
and history. A number of proverbs and pejorative phrases containing the
word tsarvul or its derivatives have been slipping, one after the
other, into the "cellar" of the modern Bulgarian language.
These sandals or moccasins were commonly worn by both men and women. They
used to be made of raw bovine hide, buff or pigskin. People would put them
over thick woоllen socks or leggings fastening them by
long straps. Although ridiculed by town-dwellers, the tsarvuls,
light and easy to wear, were best suited to the rural way of life and the
characteristics of the Bulgarian climate. Therefore, these honoured veterans
became extinct only as late as the 1940s, when they were replaced by their
rubber "descendants" and the various types and styles of manufactured shoes.
Today tsarvuls are only used as footwear by folk