Welcome to Dramsha!

The Name

One of Dramsha’s greatest riddles is its name. There are different possible etymologies, most of them, impossible to prove.

Some locals claim that Dramsha was the daughter of the Bulgarian king Samuil or of his brother Aaron. She had two sisters – Balsha and Tsarichina. Each of them received as a wedding gift a village. Of course, Dramsha was the prettiest of the sisters. She was even the most beautiful woman which had ever lived on earth. According to the legend a Turkish aristocrat or the Sultan himself wanted to marry her. Dramsha proudly refused and preferred death instead of that forced marriage.

Despite of this legend’s romanticism it is marked by a striking anachronism: the daughters of king Samuil lived almost four centuries before the Ottoman invasion. However, the legend for the royal ancestry of Dramsha, Balsha, Tsarichina and Boyana is still alive in the villages of the same name.

“The truth is, an old perk from Dramsha will say, the road to Dramsha was very bad. When turcs came they couldn’t depredate the village, because they broke their carriages. “Shashav drum, shashav drum (bad road)” they said and this is why we still call the village Dramsha.”

The Ottomans might have broken their “carriages” along the roads of Dramsha, but most likely  they did not say that the  “dram” (the road) is “shashav” (bad). These words simply do not exist in Turkish. There is, in fact, a similar Turkish word, “durum” and it means “condition, state-of-affairs”. This word has nothing in common with the Slavic “drum”, which is a derivation of the Greek “dromos”, road. “Shashav” really originates from Turkish, but şaşırtmak means “to puzzle, to bewilder”, not “bad”.

Local authorities believe that the name most likely derived from the Dramsha words for “bush” – дръмки, друмак. It is up to the reader to evaluate the plausibility of this etymology.

It is possible that the name of Dramsha is somehow related to the words for “road”.  Dramsha is located in a wide pass. During Ottoman times the citizens of Dramsha had a special status: they were voynutsi or voynugani. The voynutsi had a six month shift during which they took care for the Sultan’s horses. Among their other duties was maintaining the Sultan’s meadows. Voynugan villages were usually of strategic importance and were located near the state borders. This facts lead some people from Dramsha to the conclusion that the occupation of their ancestors gave the name of their village. 

Internet commentaries present a totally different image.  According to users the name is related to the (unidentified) title “durum shah” (protobulgarian origin), while according to others it is related to the Thracian “drъme [drume, dryme]. Not only internet users, but also some renowned researchers believe “Dramsha” has protobulgarian origins.

Of ancient protobulgarian origin are names, such as Bisercha, Kyulevcha, Satovcha, Nevsha, Dramsha, all of them ending on the particular eastern suffixes CHA and SHA, characteristic for the region of Pamir and Hindu Kush. (Колев, Петко и Димитров, Димитър. История на Българите потребност от нов подход) 

At least at this point it is hard to give a satisfactory etymology of Dramsha’s name. Nevertheless, it remains as pleasant-sounding and beautiful, as the village itself.

The Language

Something else with which Dramsha is famous is the “Dramsha language”. The local newspaper, Dramsha's Pride, is the only one in Bulgaria which is written in a dialect. In the newspaper you can read about local legends and heroes and why not about some news from around the world?