Mosaics from the Underpass to Banya Starinna

Artist: Ioan Leviev

Date: 1970s

Dimensions: 4.78 x 2.36 m; 2.92 x 2.36 m and 4 x (3.50 x 2.36 m)

The six mosaic panels are located in the underpass beneath “Tsar Boris III Obedinitel” Blvd. and “6 Septemvri” St. in close proximity to Banya Starinna (Chifte hammam 15th c.). The height of the passage determined the panels’ height and their various widths. Four of the panels are identical in size and placed next to each other while the fifth one is larger and takes up an entire wall; the sixth panel is the largest and is located in the eastern passage leading to Nebet tepe.

All of the panels note Plovdiv’s various names from different time periods – Pulpudeva, Trimontium and Puldin (the first four panels), Philippopolis and Plovdiv (the fifth panel), and Filibe and Puldin (the sixth panel). The two largest panels depict figural compositions that represent the artist’s vision of the historical personifications of the city while the four smaller ones consist of rectangular blocks of color placed in two horizontal lines. The male head portrayed in the fifth panel is divided in halaf. One half of the head is ancient; it wears a laurel wreath and stands next to the ancient name of the city – Philippopolis. The other half of the head is contemporary and has hair waving like victory flags as well as the current name of the city Plovdiv noted next to it. Both halves of the head wear a symbolic crown made of the seven hills (tepeta) for which the city is known. The largest panel (the sixth one) depicts two male figures: medieval Puldin and Ottoman Filibe. They stand on either side of a fountain with a sun above it. A bird that faces the fountain is perched on the shoulders of both figures.

The technique used is opus tessellatum. The tesserae are from natural stone in six colors: red, beige, black, dark gray, light gray, and white. The mosaic is made with a cement binding that can be seen in the gaps and where pieces are missing. Most of the tesserae are hand-hewn with irregular shapes and vary in size between 2 and 8 cm; some tesserae are even larger.

According to eyewitness accounts, contractors made the mosaic in situ.

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