Bridal makeup the likes of which we’ve never seen.
We love weddings – the glamour, the romance, the whole celebration of love. What’s even cooler is the myriad ways they’re celebrated around the world and in different cultures. You can’t go wrong with the typical white-gown-with-train wedding, but seeing something a little outside the norm is always fascinating.
Especially when the traditions in this question are this beautiful. We’ve just come across these pictures of wedding celebrations from Ribnovo, a remote mountain village in Bulgaira. There, a group of Slavic Muslims known as Pomaks have preserved the wedding rituals that were outlawed when the country came under Communist rule.
Despite attempts by multiple governments to suppress their religion, these days the Pomak people are reviving their traditions. Weddings are a two-day affair notable for the elaborate makeup worn by the bride. Called gelina, the centuries-old makeup consists of a white base with red accents and heavy gold leaf. Each particular design is unique to the community it belongs to, according to CNN.
This is 30-year-old Dhzemile Lilova before her wedding ceremony in the village of Draginovo, Bulgaria. She’s experiencing the traditional wedding ritual held among Pomaks – Slavs who converted to Islam under Ottoman rule. Her face is painted with white face cream and decorated with gold flakes and colourful sequins. Photos: @stoyannenov
Bulgaria is a secular country, but the Eastern Orthodox Church holds a traditional majority. Around 10 per cent of the population is Muslim, but most aren’t as observant as those in Ribnovo, according to a 2013 study.
The image at the top of this story shows Fatme Inus ready for her 2014 wedding to Mustafa Sirakov. It took place in winter, as all Pomak weddings do. CNN reported that as many as 10 weddings will take place each year, while the other seasons are devoted to work.
Inus’ makeup would have taken as much as two hours and is a symbol of her purity, CNN said. While this part of the ceremony takes place in private, the whole town will be involved in the festivities.
On the first day, according to Getty, gifts will be placed outside the bride’s family’s house in a display of wealth. The whole town gathers for food and dancing in celebration of the couple. On the second day, the ceremony itself takes place as the painted bride is presented to her new husband.
Her outfit will be just as elaborate as her gelina, which will be washed off by her husband after the ceremony.
Pomak people are descended from Bulgarian Christians who converted to Islam during the rule of the Ottoman Empire.
“Other nearby villages tried the traditional marriage after the ban was lifted, but then the custom somehow died away — women wanted to be modern,” 61-year-old Ali Mustafa Bushnak told Reuters in 2008.
“Maybe we are at the end of the world. Or people in Ribnovo are very religious and proud of their traditions.”
Those traditions have lasted hundreds of years already, so maybe they’ll stick around yet.