Protobułgarzy, just like other Turkish peoples, they led a nomadic and pastoral lifestyle. They knew how to farm, they were familiar with blacksmithing and furriery. Bulgarians adopted many features of the old Albanian culture, because the Alans - descendants of the ancient Sarmatians, who settled north of the Caucasus – they were the closest neighbors of the Bulgarians. During the 4th and 6th centuries. the property equality of individual families began to disappear and the process of creating a kind of steppe society of early feudal.
The Proto-Bulgarians were a well-organized people, with highly developed culture and art. After the collapse of Greater Bulgaria, Khan Asparuch stood at the head of the proto-Bulgarian people and led his people with its culture and organizations to Danubian Bulgaria. The proto-Bulgarians were superior to the Slavic peoples in many ways, they owed it to the constant influence of Greek culture, Roman and Iranian. The paternal family was the basic social unit, all family members were free, only prisoners were left as slaves. Polygamy was recognized, but adultery was severely punished.
The proto-Bulgarians worshiped a supreme deity – Sky. They believed in an afterlife, They buried the dead in great barrows with one of their wives and servants. They made sacrifices, sometimes even from people, offering sacrifices was the responsibility of the ruler or heads of families. This people cared immensely for cleanliness, even swimming pools were built. Therefore, after being baptized, Tsar Boris could not understand the prohibition of bathing on Lenten days, ie Wednesdays and Fridays.
Proto-Bulgarian cemeteries are an extremely interesting material element, as well as the spiritual culture of the ancient southern Slavs. They provide a kind of testimony and inform about the characteristic and regional peculiarities of this culture. From the graves one can read the history of social changes as well as areas of philosophical and religious beliefs, and the kind of all spirituality at the time.
By settling in the Balkans, The Slavs continued the old rite of burning. The ashes of the deceased was placed in an earthen vessel along with all decorations, which the deceased was wearing, and which were not consumed by fire. Such urn fields have been discovered in Bulgaria from the period between the 6th and 8th centuries. – around this time the people living south of the Danube began to go to non-cremation burial, probably related to the influence of the Christian religion. These changes took place simultaneously in the ritual funeral rites of the Slavs and Proto-Bulgarians. The intertwining of these processes has led to the creation of a new cultural and ethnic quality. In proto-Bulgarian cemeteries, apart from the usual ashtrays, there are graves-chambers. They were built of stones or Roman bricks, in addition to the ashes of the deceased, various gifts were put into them. The remains of domestic animals were also found in the graves, offered to the deceased as food. Najstarszym znanym cmentarzyskiem protobułgarskim jest cmentarz w Nowym Pazarze. Among the Bulgarian cemetery monuments, two tombs stand out. The first is the grave in the outer hillfort in Pliska, where, apart from the ashes, the remains of a killed horse were discovered, and a mound was built over the ashtray, which perhaps testifies to this, that the khan himself was buried here. The second is a strange grave in a wooden ring with a diameter 5,5 m and depth 3 m. Buried here 65 people, probably execution victims, there are also children among them. All skeletons have no heads. Perhaps they are participants in some cruel ritual. Many goldsmiths and ceramics were discovered in the graves in Bulgaria, which testify to the high level of material culture of its inhabitants.
Proto-Bulgarians wore very interesting and beautiful costumes. Their clothes were tight to the body, girded with a leather belt, and its lower part hung freely to the knees. They wore long tight pants and leather boots. They decorated their knees with gold and silver buttons. They also wore sheepskin coats that were turned with wool outside. Their heads were covered with tall hats trimmed with red material. Among the ornaments worn at that time, the finger bump stands out; it is a clasp used until the 7th century. Most often it was made of bronze (less often from silver) as a diamond-shaped plate with a catch connected to a second semi-circular plate, hiding spring in the pin, from which five spherical projections extend, that's why the whole thing looks like an open hand. Sometimes the horns of the diamond were decorated with red stones, a clasp with an ornament in the shape of a human head is also known.
W VIII w. bracelets and earrings have become the most frequently worn ornaments. The ornaments worn by men alluded to proto-Bulgarian traditions, related to the attributes of a warrior's costume. A typical female ornament during the First Bulgarian Empire were earrings with a pendant in the shape of a grapevine. The earrings are thicker at the bottom of the circle with a pendant attached. This is an example of very simple jewelry, but extremely careful workmanship gives it artistic value and elegance. It was this ornament that gave birth to all the next earrings and earrings, in which various elements are attached to the outer part of the wheel. The ornamental grape cluster has been simplified, taking the form of a rod composed of small balls. Sometimes a ball or a crescent was attached to it. In goldsmithing in the territory of the Bulgarian state, Slavic and Byzantine elements often intertwine. Women wore several strings of decorative glass beads around their necks and silver necklaces with cone-shaped pendants, teardrops or semicircles, decorated with the filigree technique or inserts of different colored glass slides. Often times, elegant women wore all this jewelry in various combinations.
Men's attire was derived from the military tradition and the migration of peoples – Military heraldry played an enormous role, that is, external signs of position in the military hierarchy. Bulgarian warriors, especially chiefs, they wore unusual, beautiful and original decorations as a sign of their positions. For the higher chiefs, such a distinction was bagpipes, applications on the belts for soldiers of the remaining ranks. Apps, differing in pattern, shape and craftsmanship, they also indicated belonging to a specific military formation. All decorations were therefore related to strictly defined regulations. Several types of such ornaments have been found in Bulgaria, used on belts from various periods from the time of the First Bulgarian State and from the period before its creation. Two suits of belt fittings come from the turn of the 6th and 7th centuries., although each of them is made differently. There are five discoid applications on the first, there is a fastening pin next to one. The ornament is a palmette resembling a lily. The second has an ornament resembling a human face. It is very interesting, that such ornaments were probably produced serially at the request of barbarians in Byzantine craft workshops, The matrix found in Kiev proves it. In the years that followed, two suits of ornamental fittings were discovered in Madara. They are beautifully decorated works of art, with exquisitely crafted details.
Torkwa, which is a military emblem, is a wide necklace of various shapes and decorations in different eras. One of the sets of this jewelry is a treasure from Sheremet, genetically associated with the Old Bulgarian era. This treasure once consisted of one gold and six silver necklaces, three gold bracelets, two pairs of gold earrings, golden cross and four beads. Only earrings have survived to this day, one gold and four silver necklaces. The golden necklace is very interesting, in which the shape of a fish skeleton is carved at the triangular ends. Interesting, with very complicated ornamentation, there are two silver necklaces. Engraved eagles are a beautiful and at the same time an important element of this ornament, shown in flight with long necks stretched forward. The eagle was worshiped in the tradition of the proto-Bulgarian aristocracy.