Liulin Village

Lyulin village is situated in the southwestern slopes of Lyulin Mountain. It is 8 km away from the town of Pernik and is not far from the capital Sofia. It is composed from two previous villages – Raylovo and Tsarnel, which are united in 1961, while the new settlement is named after the Lyulin Mountain.

The local community’s memory about the custom Surova is from the beginning of the 20th century. One of the oldest inhabitants – the 95-years old Evgeni Grigorov, tells his grandson what he remembers about the masquerade performances from his early childhood. When the bear keepers came in his home, he was afraid of them. Then his granny told him: “Don’t be afraid! This is your uncle Vane”. It becomes clear from this narrative, that the uncle of grandfather Evgeni disguised himself and it happened not later than the second decade of the 20th c.

There was a survakars group in the village also at the time of socialism – some black-and-white photos from that time are preserved in the archive collection of the culture house (chitalishte). Some of the survakari documented on those photos, despite their advanced age, in our days still continue to disguise themselves.

According to the local people’s accounts, as is evident also from some earlier photo-documents, once the Lyulin survakari used animal leathers for their costumes. They turned the fur inside out, and on their waists they stringed bells together. They used as well leather and horns for the masks. Then, many animals were raised in the village and providing horns was not a problem. The masquerade group had all the personages, which are now performed on the feast as well – “bridegroom”, “bride”, “priest”, “bear with a bear-keeper”. They performed the ritual “survakars wedding”. The masked men brought with them also a donkey with saddlebags.

After mid-1990-ies, many young people join the masquerade group with great enthusiasm. The core of the group in the village now are young people and men at the age between 35 and 40 years. The culture house Secretary Albena Grigorova with pleasure points out the children’s presence and will to put on masks. They participate with enthusiasm, “while the adults are keen to welcome them every year on Surova in their homes”, she says.

Today the survakars group of Lyulin is among the most numerous in Pernik region – it reaches up to 120 people. All of the participants are inhabitants of the village or else their kin descent derives from the local community. The costumes of the masked are from many-colored rags, while the very masks are made of high wooden constructions, decorated with feathers. The disguised go around the neighborhoods in the village, and the hosts welcome them with joy. In every home “the priest performs the marriage ceremony”, “the bear mauls” the host for good health, the “wedding party” dance a survakars horo (chain dance). Numerous are the gifts that the group receives on the feast. In 2016, the survakars collected them (meat, fruits, rakia) in the luggage-carrier of a taxi-car – a bright idea, which is a part of the various jokes and innovations, which inevitably go along with the contemporary masquerade.

Recorded in 2019