Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Falcon in Bulgarian and Macedonian Folk Songs

A wise falcon hides his talons. Proverb, source unknown.

Why is the falcon so prominent in Bulgarian and Macedonian folk songs?

First of all, the falcon is a bird of prey. It symbolizes strength. Falcons have very keen eyesight, which enables them to hunt, and the nobles of medieval Europe used this to their advantage, training them specifically for hunting. They are also beautiful and very intelligent. If you've ever seen one in the air, they seem to fly with very little effort.

The falcon is a very important symbol in Bulgarian folklore. The legend of the martenitsa is connected with Khan Asperuh, founder of the first Bulgarian Kingdom and the falcon who led him to his sister, Huba. You can read the story in the next video while listening to some very beautiful music.

The falcon is also prominent in rebel (Haidouk) songs. The Haidouks fought the Ottoman Turks, who ruled the Balkan lands for nearly 500 years. A Macedonian folk song, More Sokol Pie (sokol is Macedonian/Bulgarian for falcon) describes a falcon drinking water from the Vardar river. I get the impression from the translation that the woman, Jana, is asking the falcon if she's seen a hero pass by with nine bullet wounds and one from a knife. (It's doubtful he would have survived with more holes than a Swiss cheese). This is a very beautiful and passionate performance by Elena Risteska. Too bad the last few seconds were cut.

The translation for this poignant and tragic song can be found here:


The last song, Malka Moma, is about a young girl praying to God, who wishes for the "wings of a falcon" so that she can fly and find the man of her dreams. This choir sounds like it came right out of a church. According to the person who posted the video on YouTube, the soloist was very nervous. Despite the "nervousness", she and her group do an excellent job.

Part of translation the for Malka Moma can be read here:

"Please god give me eyes of a dove,
please god give me wings of a falcon,
so I can fly over Dunav (Danube) river,
so I can find a boy that I love.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

This Brings out the Animal in Me: Critters in Balkan Folk Music


The Rebels (Haidouks) in Bulgarian Folk Songs


Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Martenitsa, But Were Afraid to Ask:


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