The rebel lion sign

An important attribute to any insurgent uniform are the metal lions adorning the rebels' hats. These insignia are made of dies and cast or extruded in gold Turkish lira, silver, lead, bronze or brass. Authors of the plastic images are local masters, painters and goldsmiths. The symbolism on them identifies the fighters for the freedom of the fatherland. The signs are usually elliptical, and the inscription in a semicircle around the upright lion trampling the Ottoman flag is "FREEDOM OR DEATH"Only one golden lion has reached us, belonging to Georgi Neychev from Panagyurishte, a representative of the city of the National Assembly in Oborishte, which predetermined the outbreak of the uprising.

According to Kancho Osamski, the insignia of the April insurgents were cast by the brothers Ivan and Lazar Veleganovi, sons of a famous foundryman from Bansko - Dimitar Veleganov: Under his front paws - a crescent with a star - a symbol of the inevitable fall of the Ottoman Empire. Above the crown and the winged words: "Freedom or death." The brothers' workshop, opened in 1872. on Abadjiyska Street №10 in Plovdiv, became legendary. In the words of Osamski: “Their frequent guests in the smoky foundry workshop during those days, loaded with gunpowder faith and open disobedience, were the associate of Levski Bai Ivan Arabadzhiyata from the village of Tsaratsovo, the Perushtin conspirator Petar Bonev, the Tarnevi brothers. Kocho Chestimenski, a bootmaker, also sat down to talk most often. Along with the bells, the brothers began casting bullets and bullets. Then Kocho Chestimenski ordered the lions of the Peruvian insurgents to be cast. In a few days the lion cubs were ready and the bootmaker Kocho took them to Perushtitsa, where he handed them over to the leaders of the uprising Petar Bonev and Spas Ginov. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the April Uprising in 1976. the heir of the Veleganovs - Lazar Blagov Veleganov, on an original matrix preserved by his ancestors, pours again several lion signs. The transfer of one of these valuable castings to IM-Perushtitsa in 2006. is the work of engineer Viktor Limonov, grandson of Lazar Veleganov. The donation was achieved with the assistance of Tsvetanka Nedelcheva (director of the House - Museum "Ivan Vazov", Sopot). Today the distinctive lion sign is presented in the exposition of our museum.


Text: Mario Jasim