The village of Teshovo is located in the historical and geographical area of Murvashko. Situated in South Pirin, the mountain village is 711 meters above sea level. It is 225 km away from Sofia, 126 km from Blagoevgrad and 20 km from Hadzhidimovo. It is fabulous but yet unknown place that quietly tells its legends and history. On an area of 39.46 km², with a very rugged terrain, the village seems to be built in the mountains. Among the highest hills are the Chiflishteto, Kukla, Karaborum, Sveta Nedelya, Valyov kamen, Kukul kamen and others. The village's field boundary is the largest among those of the villages. With its wild nature, the Teshovo field boundary is home of a variety of wild animals. In the thick, century-old beech forests roam wild pigs, deer, bears, wolves, foxes, rabbits and squirrels, badgers and wild cats roam. On the high peaks of Sveshtnik and Mutork there are nests of black eagles, gray vultures and falcons. In lower slopes, there live capercaillies, heifers and partridges. The upper streams of the Matnitsa River and the Burovitsa River have Balkan trout.
There are different theories about the village’s name. According to local people, it comes from the phrase “techashta voda” (running water) – Techovo, according to others, it comes from the word “teSHko (hard) – “tezhak zhivot” (hard life). Population earned their food with great labor, life in mountain was never easy. It is amazing, but here in Teshovo a great number of crafts are still preserved.
The “samardzhii” (saddle makers) produced saddles. Once, everything was kept on the saddle, there were no carts, but there were craftsmen. They produced the wooden saddles that were placed on the back of the animal to transport cargo. To be a good saddle maker, one should be both good at carpentry and in leather and upholstery processing, according to local people. Because of the terrain, the carts were hardly used. Oxen carried goods, cargo and did other activities. Another occupation was mining. During the Revival period, Teshovo was an important center of iron and steel industry. There were ovens and forges. In the village there were blacksmiths and at the end of the 18th century there was a "kerchana" for production of cannon balls.
In the village there were also many smithies (kuzni), in which various items were produced, which along with the forged iron rods were sold in Demir Hissar, Serres, Zilyahovo, Thessaloniki, Drama, Alistrati, Pravishaa, Nigrita, Kavala , Pazardzhik, Plovdiv.
“Mandradzhiystvo” (cheese production) – the village of Teshovo was famous with its sheep cheese. People followed all processes on order to make excellent cheese.
On St. George’s Day herds were brought to meadows. The animals' stalling "stanuvane" was in dairy farms. Herds lived high in the mountains until St. Dimitar’s Day. The farmers went to the dairies and after milking each animal, the owner marked how much milk the animal had given. Then farmers began to go with the herds as shepherds. The number of pastoral days each farmer would have depended on the number of animals in their flock. Those with more animals spent more days as shepherds. Those who worked in dairies took part in milking of the animals. Milk was produced into tasty cheese, and non-buttered milk was made into a drink called “matenitsa. “People made also curd. Even today, dairies work in the village, while the cheese masters continue to observe the traditions of producing the tasty sheep’s milk cheese. They say that Teshovo's brine cheese owes its unique flavor to the herbs that the animals eat in the mountain. The village is one of the few that keeps its records. The national memory, the old books and legends somehow naturally keep the village’s history, lifestyle and traditions.
In 1858, a school was built in the village. Greek was taught there. In 1873, Ivan Popnikolov, who was a teacher, introduced Bulgarian language into the school and the church. In the nineteenth century, Teshovo was a large village, with mixed population and was part of the Nevrokop kaza of the Syar’s sanjak. In the “Ethnography of the Adrianople, Monastir and Salonika villayets”, published in Constantinople in 1878 and reflecting the statistics of the male population in 1873, Teshevo was referred to as a village with 159 households with 65 Muslims and 470 Bulgarians. In 1889, Stefan Verkovich (Topographic-ethnic record of Macedonia) records Teshovo as a village with 130 Bulgarian and 23 Turkish houses. (obshtinite.bg) In 1909, in a report to Ilarion Nevrokopski about the village of Teshovo, he wrote:
"The village is situated in a steep place near the forest of Teshovo, at the fork of Pirin. The Teshovo river passes through the village. There is good drinking water. There are good forests and pastures. Teshovo is a village of Bulgarians and Turks. There are 193 houses with Bulgarians, and the second ones have 26. They are engaged in agriculture, cattle breeding, coalmining and masonry. There are mines in the village. Iron is extracted, but they are no longer working. The St. Dimitar Church is nice. It is a solid building. It has the vision of a monastery. Every year at St. Dimitar’s day a very large group of people is gathering here. The municipality is good. It gave the church a bell tower with a large clock."
The village is distinguished by its unique atmosphere and unique architecture. The houses are arranged amphitheatrically, they are high, with two floors, with different windows and long verandas. Today, most of these houses are empty. Once, families with many children lived there. The narrow, cobblestone streets go around the houses. Here you can see traditional stone-built houses with unburnt or burnt bricks. On the first (ground) floor there were the barns, the cowshed. On the second floor there were living rooms.
A characteristic element of the everyday life and tradition of people in the village of Teshovo were the textile fabrics. One of the main fields for the masters' appearance was making of aprons. Materials reveal a sense of beauty with their colors. Each color of the fabric had a few shades - dark and light, and variety of designs is due to the colors and ornaments. The images vary from the simplest elements to complex figures - straight lines, eyes, little eyes, etc. The figures often form groups that are repeated. The arrangement of the ornaments is consistent with the size and type of the aprons. It was very important for every girl to have the best apron in the village. Ornamental stitches and edges were added to the decoration of traditional costumes. It is evident that the edges of the fold and the seam are undercut with a buckle of fringes. There are added braided fringes and wrists of different number of "stroki" in one or several colors to them. The pursuit of beauty was also expressed in decoration with friezes and braids. The strip of colorful braids in the villages of Teshovo, Gaitaninovo and Paril highlighted the basic lines of the garment and was called “tsapilo”.
The richness of variants and local variations in clothing and fabrics is due both to the respect of nature and to the lifestyle, traditions and social situation of people. Each costume had summer and winter variety, as well as a daily and festive version.
The ornaments were different and with wide application. Pierced coins have been braided in a thin “spritka”, jewelry with coins sewn on cloth were not uncommon. People wore jewelry at feasts, at weddings and in order to demonstrate the fortune of the wearer. Wealth was also manifested by the metal from which the ornaments were made.
People put their sorrow and dreams, their happiness. When they prepared for the field, they used to sing:
Slantse se slaga da zaide,
Na tova pole shiroko,
Slantchitse, milo detentse,
Zahozhdai, slantcho, po-barzo,
Da ne te kanat argatinye…
The sun is ready to set down,
on this bread field,
Sun, dear child,
Set down, sun, faster,
not to curse you workers…
Love and longing of young girls were also expressed in songs:
Da da de gospod, da dade
koito mi yabalka podfarli,
kat neya da sa tarkalya.
Da dade gospod, da dade,
koito mi prasten podfarli
da dade gospod, da dade,
pod nego da se provira,
koito me w yusta tseluna,
da dade gospod, da dade
sas nego da se kerdosam…
Let God gives the one,
who threw me an apple,
to roll like it.
Let God gives the one,
who gave me a ring,
let God gives him,
to go through it,
the one who kissed me,
let God give, give
to marry ths one.
Sacrifice before the altar of the country is also introduced in folk songs. The house of Atanas Shabanov, called Teshovski or Teshovaliyata, is situated in the village. He is a revolutionary, the leader of IMRO and one of the most loyal associates of Yane Sandanski. The song says:
„Balgare glava dignali,
sichki komiti stanali,
sichki balkana fanale…”
“Bulgarians rose their heads,
all became rebels,
all went in the mountain…”
The Church of St. Dimitar in Teshovo has a great historical and architectural value. Even today, the clock on the church’s bell tower shows the time. The church was built in 1843 - 1844 on the site of an older Orthodox temple probably existed around the VII - IX century.
After local population resented and wanted to have its own church, the Turkish authorities gave permission for the construction of the temple. The permission was in Ottoman language, but there was a condition – it was set a deadline for the construction - only three days. So Turks wanted to prevent construction of a church larger than a mosque. The population, together and without rest, built it for three days and the construction was successfully completed. Their joy was enormous. According to traditions, the oldest resident gave the name of the temple - "St. Dimitar".
In the nineteenth century, the village was one of the wealthiest due to the prosperous ore mining in those years.
Population began to grow rapidly and the church turned out to be insufficient for believers. An initiative was launched to expand the temple. The merit of this belonged to Andon Rusev, who fully funded the initiative. In 1865, he returned from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, already as Hadji Andon, and became a church governor. By bribery, he managed to obtain permission from the Turkish government not only to expand the church, but also to build a school and a bell tower. In 1869 the school was built. In the next two years, the expansion and building of the second floor, designed to be women’s part, were finished.
Architecturally, the church is a large three-nave basilica. It has massive walls, with an open gallery that surrounds the naos on three sides and forms a chapel with an ossuary at its northeastern side. The lateral galleries are two-storey, as on the second floor they open as arcades to the the naos. A double-sided roof on a solid wooden structure is set above the entire body of the church. The three naves are separated inside by six pairs of columns. The ceilings are wooden and flat. The themes of the iconostasis can be attributed to the works of the Debar Art School. Most icons of the iconostasis are made by the Bansko Zograf - Dimitar Molerov and are painted from 1843 to 1848 (Encyclopedia "Pirin region", volume II).
A relatively small number of documents have been preserved since the Ottoman Empire period. The Sultan orders for construction, repair and carrying out rituals by the Eastern Orthodox temples in the villages of Teshovo (1836, 1841) and Gega (1857, 1870) are among the most valuable. A unique and especially valuable document, which is kept in the State Archives in Blagoevgrad is the ferman (imperial order) of Sultan Mahmoud II, son of Sultan Abdul Hamid I, granting the right to the church "St. Dimitar "in the village of Teshovo, Nevrokop region to ring the bell during church rituals. It dates back to 1251 by Mohammedan chronology (April 14, 1836). The document has dimensions: 77/54 cm; it is made of paper of Venetian origin with water sign - eagle with spread wings, under it there are written the Latin letters G.E.A. Tugra with red ink. The text is written with black non-waterproof ink. (www.archives.government.bg)
A medieval stone tower is situated in the center of the village of Teshovo. People say that it is "old" and without it the village would not be the same. The tower had 6-7 floors and had sewerage of tempered pipes. The narrower ones were for the clean water, the other (wider ones) drained dirty water. The door was heavy, made of iron, and it was descending with an iron chain.
Water and iron seem to have marked the lives of people in this beautiful village. It is rich of beautiful nature and water. People say that water is one of the best here - a gift from the Pirin Lakes.
Each year, on 26th of October, a meeting of heirs of the old Teshovo families is held in the courtyard of St. Dimitar’s Church. A sacrificial rite for health is also held. On June 29 – St. Peter’s Day, people make a sacrificial rite near the Chapel of St. Peter. There is a tradition of staying overnight on the Beglizhki meadows. St. Peter’s Day is connected with fertility rites in folk beliefs. Women do not work homework, and men do not go out into the field, do not harness the oxen. On this day they used to pray for rain.
One of the most loved holidays is St. Lazar’s Day. It is always on Saturday before Vrabnitsa holiday. There are only girls who take part in this holiday’s traditions. Preparations begin from Sirni Zagovezni. Songs for this holiday have been learned by girls from older women. One of the girls became the "leader" of the group. She was the most beautiful girl and she had to be aware of the rituals. She had to be able to play and lead the “horo” dance. The girls wore holiday costumes. They walked in groups around the village and sang lazar songs (for plowmen, unmarried men, elderly women or small children). In this region, as well as in the whole Pirin region, there was a “horo” called “Malchano” (silent) Horo. Friends and women who went to help to dress the bride, played this silent horo. It is silent because there was no music and the rhythm of the dance was dictated by the rows of pendars (gold coins) that hit the buckles on their waists.
Men also had their Silent horo.
The leader of the group announced which song they would play. The songs were local and everyone knew them. The condition was that while playing, nobody should laugh or talk. Whoever did not keep it, was defined a punishment by the leader. Usually the punishment was to bring water to a donkey that grazed on a distant meadow.