Interview with Gotscha Lagidse / Europian Blades Mag. by Bas Martens
Young Gotscha was fascinated early on in his life
with his current field of expertise. At the age of fourteen he began to
forge chain mail. The wire he needed, he pulled out of the tires of old
trucks which would otherwise be burned by the construction workers
during the winter to keep them warm. In 1986, Gotscha began a study in
Georgian armour. He made himself a complete suit of armour, wrote an
article about it, and worked for two years in an open-air museum
following his formal education as an electrical engineer.
The first assignments to Georgia under the TRQN II project took place in September-October 2009.
IOM Georgia, Oktober 2009
Gocha Laghidze is an experienced Georgian armourer and restorer currently living in the Netherlands. He was one of the first persons who visited Georgia as part of the TRQN II project. Gocha was hosted by the Georgian National Museum. During his one month assignment, Gocha introduced to the staff of the museum some new techniques used in Europe, and helped the museum with the restoration of several valuable objects kept in its repositories. The restoration included the sword of the King Erekle II, a precious historical relic that required urgent treatment. On 25 September, Gocha Laghidze delivered a presentation in the auditorium of the National Museum where he spoke about his cooperation with the European museums as well as the results of his work in Georgia. The presentation attracted a wide audience and elicited considerable interest among the experts in this field. Gocha’s contribution was received with great appreciation and recognition by the National Museum and other people who had pleasure to work with such a master and a committed supporter of Georgia.
Art without borders
The Messenger, Tbilisi, 24 juni 2005, By Nino Kopaleishvili
Georgian goldsmith Gotscha Lagidze is one of those artists who believe that art does not have borders. Having worked on traditional Georgian weapons and armor since he was a teenager, Lagidze reproduced a suit of armor that belonged to Prince Maurits of Nassau in 1998 for the Delft Royal Netherlands Army and Arms Museum. Calling it his "favorite work," Lagidze keeps another masterpiece of Prince Maurits at his delightful Dutch-style house in Roosendaal, in the south of the Netherlands. Lagidze has been living in the Netherlands since 1994 with his wife Lela and three children Giorgi, 17, Lasha, 15, and Sophia, 9. Lagidze has been cooperating with different museums in the Netherlands over the years and in 2003 he made a reproduction of the chain mail of Jan van Schaffelaar, Holland's national hero from the 15th century. "The work on it continued for three-four years. To help raise funds, it was decided to make the armor in the style that St. George dressed. It was important not to violate historical rules," he states.
In 1999 Lagidze received first prize at the international forum in Luxembourg for modern art in steel. "I took my miniature to the forum before it was completed. The event was really important," he said.
In addition to working on different projects Lagidze also teaches at Amsterdam State University. However, he admits there are not many students who are interested in work on steel, mainly for commercial reasons.
"Such things are difficult to do and this art is disappearing gradually," he says. "But it is such an intellectual discipline." Now he plans to try his hand in other fields more available to public. "Now I am designing street lamps which are for the public. The first ten copies will be produced soon," he says.
Chain mail of the famous Georgian King
Earlier this year, Lagidze received an offer from the Georgian playwright Dato Turashvili to design chain mail for a film about Georgia's famous king Davit Aghmashenebeli. "Probably I will travel to Tbilisi. It is important to do it in Tbilisi," he says. "The chain mail of Davit Aghmashenebeli is not on a fresco. That is why I want to do it not only for the movie, but for a museum." His love for designing old war equipment exists hand in hand with his love of Georgian history. He was particularly interested in Khevsurian armor and often traveled to the region to study this equipment in the years 1985-88. "Everything started from my teacher Juansher Jurkhadze, who taught me history," he says.
"Once I had a knife that I made myself. He took it and said it was no good. The next day he presented me with a little sword," he said. Later, Lagidze happened to visit his teacher's home and was amazed at the collection of old Georgian equipments.
"I decided to do steel chain mail and I did it ... probably this man got me on the right track," he adds.
Looking back to his home country
"Georgia is my home country and nothing can change that," says Lagidze, adding, however, that there are many things in Dutch society that he would like to see transferred to Georgia. Lagidze and his family often watch Georgian television channels and search for news on the internet about Georgia. "I am sympathetically disposed to the events taking place in the country now. We are happy about all the good changes happening in my country," he declares. Lagidze, who participated in the two civil wars in the 1990s in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, says that the defeat was the final straw which drove him to leave the country.
"Defeat in Abkhazia was a great disappointment and this became one of the reasons why I left Georgia," he says. "In my opinion there was certainly a mistake as this should not have happened but I do not know how it started."
Several months ago, Lagidze, who is now a citizen of the Netherlands, applied for dual citizenship and hopes to become a citizen of Georgia again.
"I really want to get it, but I am trying not to think what the answer will be," he said.
The forger of iron and steel
World of Constant Connection - Informational and Scientific Magazine, 3
(23) 2004, By Nino Chichinadze
and Medieval Holland – on the face of it, these two countries seem to
have nothing in common. However, it is the art of our country-man – Gotscha
Lagidse that has revived several pages of the medieval history of Holland.
How did he manage to do that? Gotscha, who has been living and working in
young Georgian man first showed interest in this strange and rare scope
of activity – the fighting equipment of the knights of the past
centuries when he was a schoolboy. It was at the age of 14 when assisted
by his pedagogue, a history teacher Juansher Jurkhadze, that Gotscha
created his first work – Gudamakarian “khabalakhi” (a warrior’s
helmet with woven steel chains). It was this very teacher of history who
“infected” a student of the Komarov mathematical school with this
interesting and romantic field. During his studies at the Georgian
Polytechnic Institute, he keenly familiarized himself with our
ancestors’ ammunition. In 1985-89 he restored a Khevsurian war helmet,
a hauberk (a chain mail), metal plates protecting the arm, iron gloves,
a shoulder-strap, a shield and sword. The following figures give an idea
of the complexities and labour intensiveness of this task: the chain
mail is made up of 56,000 small rings where each ring is prepared by
means of a cold hammering technique. Each ring is linked to four other
rings. It took Gotscha two months to create this ring-armour using 9
kilograms of steel material. In 1988 a Georgian television film “A
Shirt of Mail” acquainted Georgian viewers with Gotscha Lagidse’s
creative work. The same year, the Artists’ Union of Georgia conferred
on him the title People’s artist of Georgia.
From the end of 1980s the scope of this activity expands: on Zurab
Tsereteli’s personal order he creates a number of monumental works,
starts to work as a metal restorer at the State Ethnographical Museum of
Architecture and Culture named after Academician G.Chitaia and takes
active part in exhibition.
ammunition of the heroes of the Middle Ages, created by the artist in Holland,
became a landmark in Gotscha Lagidse’s work. For 10 years the Royal
Netherlands Army Museum in the city of Delft was unsuccessfully looking
for an artist who would be capable of making a copy of the armour of a
national hero of the 16th-17th centuries –
Maurice of Orange (1567-1625), the Count of Nassau and it was to our
countryman – Gotscha Lagidse, that the specialists entrusted this
responsible task. Creating a western knight’s armour has been Gotscha’s dream for a very long time.
of Orange was a famous statesman, a commander in-chief and an army
reformer. Like his father – Wilhelm I of Orange, he fought against the
Spaniards. A magnificent victory in this war marked the liberation of
from Spain. Prince
Maurice’s only surviving suit of armour was made in 1590 and is kept
Gotscha it was the first attempt to create a life-size west European suit
of armour. His preceding works ware represented by miniature models. In
an interview to al local newspaper, he said that he found the
preparation of the helmet particularly difficult because its shapes and
details had to be highly precise.
next work is associated with the name of another hero of the Netherlands
– Jan van
Schaffelaar. In this case the artist had more difficult task to cope
with. The thing is that five centuries the interest in this hero had not
diminished in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, Van Schaffelaars armour
has not survived. He is the hero of many novels, poems, works of art
and, naturally, research works and, therefore, it was a common desire to
have his armour displayed in his country’s museum. “He is a real
commander, he wears a helmet on his head and his body is completely
covered with armour” – this is how the chronicle about Van
Schaffelaar describes him. Following extensive discussions and long
consultations, a decision was made to create armour similar to that
depicted on Friedrich Herlin’s painting “The Miracle of St.
George”, which dates back to 140 and is kept at historical museum of
the city of Nordlingen. The presentation of this work, executed by Gotscha
Lagidse, took place in the spring of 2004. Along with Gotscha’s talent
and zeal, such success could perhaps also be attributed to the
artist’s chivalrous soul and romantic nature.
have a clear idea of Gotscha Lagidse’s activity, it is certainly
worthwhile to refer this original jewellery – a peculiar
“collection” of ladybirds and other insects. This is what the master
says himself: “I am fascinated by coats of mail and armour – real
arming of the warriors; but don’t ladybirds and turtles also protect
themselves with their own “armour” – their shells and testa? I
think that everything has cuirass – some are visible and others –
invisible.” Silver, copper
and iron ladybirds differ by the manner of execution. One can feel a
special love of nature in these works and the artist attitude to them is
manifested in the names given to them by their creator: “Picasso”,
“Ladybird on ice” and others. “At first I hesitated – I was not
certain whether the name was chosen by me for my adorable ladybird was
acceptable. Later on, however, when I saw Picasso Citroen cars in the
streets, I thought I had full authority to do so.” A contemporary
design, fine workmanship, artistic mastery of them form material imparts
these works with exceptional charm.
has been almost decade since Gotscha’s artistic works have beautified
the galleries and museums of Holland, Luxembourg
and Germany. In 1999
his artistic miniature “Maurice” was recognized as the best exhibit
of the International Modern Art Exhibition organized by UNESCO and the
Luxembourg Ministry of Culture. The Georgian master shares his
workmanship and love of his art with interested audiences at lectures
and seminars, concurrently continuing his restoration activity.
far back as 28 centuries ago, one of the inscriptions of the Assyrian
King, Sargon the Great (714 B.C.) contains a description of the trophy
seized during his invasion of the
Gotscha Lagidse makes statue of Dutch hero Jan van Schaffelaar
Nairac Museum in Barneveld, by Drs. Priscilla van Leeuwen. Barneveld, 12 May
Lagidse is a Georgian artist and armourer who has been living and working
for the past ten
years. He has made a beautiful statue for the 15th century
Dutch hero Jan van Schaffelaar. The statue was commanded by the Nairac
in Barneveld, a
bustling market place in the centre of
Dutch history one period – between approximately 1350 and the end of the
15th century – is known as the ‘war between the Hoeken and
the Kabeljauwen’ (the Hooks and the Codfishes). Both parties were
composed of often changing factions of noblemen and towns in Holland
and Zealand. Jan van Schaffelaar
was a landowner, a squire of no great importance or wealth. He was
probably in the service of Maximilan of Austria, so he belonged to the
party of the Kabeljauwen. His small army consisted of about 20 cavalary
men. They were instructed to intercept the food transports on their way to
the beleaguered town of
Utrecht, which was in the
hands of the Hoeken. On the sixteenth day of July 1482 a certain number of
horsemen, coming from Roosendaal, captured the tower
minor episode in the long guerrilla warfare was mentioned in a chronicle
of that time. His deed of self-sacrifice so spoke to the imagination that
during the following centuries he became a well-known hero.
small museum Nairac is situated in the centre of Barneveld, at the foot of
the church tower from which Jan van Schaffelaar leaped to his death. As
Jan left nothing behind but the story of his heroic deed the museum has to
recreate his story with pictures, weapons from the period or replica’s. The curator wanted to illustrate the story with a type of armour that Jan
van Schaffelaar could have worn. As there was no original late 15th
century armour available the museum wanted to have a historically correct
new armour made.
a newspaper article attention was drawn to Georgian-born and raised
Gotscha Lagidse. He was already well known in his own country and was now
making a name for himself in
a model for the armour a beautiful painting by Friedrich Herlin, c.1460, was chosen depicting
St. George and the dragon. The knight in the
painting is wearing a fine example of the best quality armour worn at the
time. It is in what is know ‘Italian export’ style. This style of
armour was made by Italian armourers, with Germanic and northwest European
features incorporated, to suit their clients. This armour style was
Exhibition at Bremmer Gallery in Tilburg, Newspaper article (Brabants Dagblad, Visual Art), by A.K. Beekman, 7th September 2000. (translation)
"Picasso is the name of this Ladybird. It is one of my favourite pieces. This name came to me whilst I was making it. So it is more a kind of feeling. It is true that Picasso is my favourite artist. Like me, he has worked in many styles. This ladybird also means a new style for me. Indeed, I have hesitated for a moment if it would be right to call it after Picasso, but when I saw that Citroën Picasso driving around, I knew for sure it would be all right. I love ladybirds. I have a special relationship with nature and the ladybird is the protector of flowers and plants; a very courageous creature.
In 1994 I came to the Netherlands. Georgia is my mother country. There the ladybird is called Chia-Maia. Like ladybird (in Dutch: lieveheersbeestje = creature of our Lord) a very beautiful name. When people in Georgia have lost something they also call out to the ladybirds. Then they help to search for it. As a child I was already in love with them. It is a very beautiful, kind and good creature.
Apart from the ladybird the exhibition also shows suits of armour. I am fascinated by armour real suits of armour, but a ladybird or a tortoise also has one. All those are visible armours. But I think everything has a suit of armour, sometimes visible and sometimes invisible.
Four years ago for the first time I made a ladybird. Now I have ten in total. They all look different and they all have a different name. For example there is one called "Ladybird on ice". I also used various different materials for these bugs: silver, copper, brass and iron. For Picasso I used iron and silver. It is my favorite, for it is the best one from the series. Also, each one should be better than the last.
The ladybird has been made with much skill, yes. But for me the technique is really of secondary importance. I conceive of a design in my mind and see it before my eyes. Then I just make it."
An article from Metaalschrift, no. 2, 2000. Ed. OOM and O+A, by L.Knoop. (translation)
As a school child Gotscha Lagidse (34) had his fantasies about his motherland Georgia and Persian or Turkish troops, especially about the shining armoury. By order of the Delfts Army Museum Gotscha copied a cavalry suit of armour of prince Maurits.
Gotscha copied Maurits suit of armour in his workshop in Den Bosch. When the Army Museum hosted the original from Vienna in 1998, Gotscha came to Delft ten times to measure and photograph all parts of the suit of armour. Then he ordered sheet metal in various thicknesses. Not stainless steel, for that was unknown in the 16th century. But Gotscha did blue the steel, with a burner.
Musket bullet: It took a year of thinking and working to the millimetre, but Gotscha forged a perfect replica. RTL5 filmed how Gotscha finally connected the 169 parts with hinges. In the Army Museum you will automatically meet the double of Maurits suit of armour: in the collection concerning the Eighty Years War (1568-1648). Like his father William of Orange, Maurits fought against Spain but he became known mostly as a military reformer. He changed troops of raw hirelings into a proper professional army.
Maurits was not very tall, as is shown by his suit of armour. Remarkable also are the missing right index finger and back plate: just like the original. At the height of the belly flickers the dent of a bullet. A murderous attack on Maurits? Not at all. This small point just guarantees that it was a fighters suit of armour, not a decorative piece. Gotscha did indeed add this quality mark, but not with a musket.
Most classical: Gotscha was fourteen years old, when he made his first helmet. After this he learned the art of gold and silver smithing. "I looked around in workshops to see how it was done." Gotscha had good eyes, for in the Netherlands there is no better weapon smith to be found. What does he do at the moment? I have made a miniature suit of armour. Out of iron, the oldest material!"
Knights armour from the hands of a Georgian blacksmith Gotscha Lagidse
An article from "Hephaistos", 5 June 1999
In an improvised workshop he produced the replica of a suit of armour last year, which had been worn by Prince Maurits of Nassau 400 years ago. The original can be seen in the Art-History Museum in Vienna. On the initiative of Gotscha Lagidse this work was commissioned by the main curator of the Army and Weapon Museum in Delft Jan Piet Puype.
The detail measurement of the original suit of armour on loan in Delft and the production of templates and models took 400 working hours alone. The actual production of the armour took 1,5000 working hours. The past of the suit of armour weighing 40 kilograms (88 lbs.) at 168 centimeters (62.2 in.) were hammered from plates of one to three millimeters (.39 to 1.18 in.). After comparison of the original, the finishing touches and the bluing with the flame were done.
Gotscha Lagidse worked with "cold" techniques predominantly, in some cases heating was done by flame, and 800 fastening units, rings, et cetera, were used.
His passion for the production of knights armour started during the schooldays of Gotscha Lagidse already when a history teacher awakened his enthusiasm for knighthood. With the help of this teacher, he produced his first work, a Georgian helmet.
The experiences of a weapon smith
Newspaper article (Delftse Courant), 16th January 1999. (translation)
In the Netherlands Lagidse came into contact with the circle of artist-blacksmiths and soon they became aware of his talent. "I was granted to help with an exhibition in the Maritime Museum of Texel," says the 33-year-old Lagidse. "The director of the museum advised me to visit the Army Museum in Delft. I wrote them a letter and on an open day I went along with some work. Later I received a reply with the request whether I would like to make the suit of armour of prince Maurits."
Chief curator J. Puype from the Army Museum was immediately enthusiastic about the skills of Lagidse. "For about ten years we have been wishing to have a replica made of the armour of prince Maurits, but we could not find the right smith. I had contact with the Dutch Guild of artist-blacksmiths, but nobody seemed suitable to execute this order. When I saw the work of Lagidse I knew he was our man and now, afterwards, I can say he is the best one I know."
The former military garage of Den Bosch was made into a smithy for Lagidse. The anvil he received from the Delfts museum, the other tools were a gift from a rich collector of suits of armour.
The period between receiving the order and the delivery of the suit of armour has been a hard time for Lagidse. Not so much bodily, as well as spiritually. For the order he received was quite something. "I had never made such a large European suit of armour. I mainly made miniature suits of armour," he says. "I started very enthusiastically, but after a while that diminished. I had also other things to think about. When it became very difficult I called a monk that I know, he helped me to calm down again. Once I had finished one hand of the suit of armour and saw that it was good, I regained my zeal. I ordered myself to work and so I did. Sometimes eleven or twelve hours a day."
Lagidse says he has felt inspired by the contact with the curator of the Army Museum. He looks at the photograph of Puype that hangs on the wall of the smithy above his desk. "Every three days we called one another to discuss the progress. It seemed as if there existed a sort of telepathy between us. I think he is planning to write a book about the creation of the suit of armour." Looking back Lagidse sees this whole period as a miracle, a fairy tale. "That I came here from Georgia and somehow came into contact with Mr. Puype I do not call chance. It has come from above. That I managed to finish it all in time and could deliver the suit in time to the Museum has to be the work of God. I still consider it unbelievable," Lagidse says in his improvised smithy. "For me it was a fairly tale. Once the suit of armour had gone, I felt very sad, for I missed it."
Lagidse obviously has deep love for his work. He takes a book about Old Masters and opens it. He shows an etching of the workshop of Michelangelo. "Look, what a beautiful workshop he already had then, I would like to have something like that at some point. You see those beautiful clothes Michelangelo is wearing. He is aware that he is a great master. We are magicians," he jokes. But he is serious. Now the tale of the suit of armour is over, he would prefer to carry on immediately with the next fairy tale. He has received many orders already, in Europe, but also in America. He would prefer to go on with free art works. "But at the moment one cannot live so well from that as from the suits of armour."
Gotscha Lagidse forges culture into art
By Bernard de Haas, journalist
Gotscha Lagidse is a sculptor from Georgia, the fatherland of iron and bronze, where the art of metal has always been highly respected.
Georgia lies between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea on the northern border of Iran, areas which for centuries have been claimed by different peoples: Persians, Turks, Russians and (in the twentieth century) Germans.
The Georgian desire for freedom and their militant history brought about the development of a rich culture. Until the nineteenth century each family still had its own complete suit of armour on the wall. Metal is part of the culture of this country.
An enthusiastic teacher fanned the interest of the young Gotscha in historical weapons and armoury. With his inborn talents, knowledge and practical experience grew into a veritable passion for suits of armour, swords and mail coats. At a young age he restored the old armour of his family. By working with and restoring old armours he learned the art of metal. During his studies at the technical university he acquired the title People’s Arts of Georgia. By now Gotscha is recognized both in Georgia and in Europe as one of the most important experts on armour and weaponry.
Gotscha makes striking miniatures of knights in armour, but he can also create suits of armour, helmets and mail coats in full size. He loves most to work for museums that take care of old armour. In 1998 Gotscha completed a replica suit or armour, after the original personal cavalry armour of Prince Maurits, as ordered by the Dutch Army Museum. The famous stadhouder (governor) had this suit of armour made in 1590 1595. In this period an improved kind of cavalry armour had just been developed. This only remaining suit of armour of the prince is one of the few authentic suits of armour that have been conserved. It is a real fighters armour, sober and light (only forty kilos), in which the rider could easily move.
The original suit of armour, made in the Netherlands, was given by Maurits to, of all people, the Roman Catholic archduke Ferdinand of Tyrol. Ferdinand was an avid collector of weaponry and armour and in 1601 he published a catalogue of his collection. Maurits suit of armour is also mentioned in here. Apparently, despite the Dutch enmity towards the Spanish king Philip II, the protestant Maurits did not feel troubled about a friendship with the Roman Catholic potentate of Vienna.
In 1998 it was 350 years since the Treaty of Munster ended the Eighty Years War. The Army Museum placed the suit of armour in an exhibition about the struggle, the tactics and the weapons in this war. It may be that the schoolbooks praise Maurits too highly as a strategist but the great achievement of the prince lies in the training of his armies, until every manoeuvre could be executed faultlessly as by one man, following the example of the Roman legions in the high days of the Roman Empire.
Gotscha is one or the four or five weapon smiths in Europe that is able to make a historically correct full-size copy of such a suit of armour as that of Maurits. In Georgia Gotscha has worked for museums and private people, but he also worked for the studio of Tsereteli, the man who designed the monument for the building of the United Nations. In Georgia, because of the history of the country, people are above all interested in Gotschas exceptional skills as a forger of suits of armour. For a complete mail coat, of which Georgia knows seven different kinds, he connects day after day, for months, little hand forged iron rings into one another, closing each by forging the ends together.
In 1996 the Maritime Museum on Texel organized a memorial of the Georgian rebellion against the German occupation of the island. Gotscha exhibited a complete full-size suit of armour there. During World War II the Georgians originally chose the side of Germany against the Russians that were occupying Georgia. Georgians came to the island of Texel with the German armies. But there emerged an understanding between the militant Georgians, that had fought to keep their freedom from foreign occupation for so many centuries, and the freedom-loving people of Texel. Eight hundred Georgians rebelled against three thousand German occupiers. 476 Georgians are buried on Texel at a special honorary burial site.
Apart from weaponry and armour Gotscha shows his artistic gifts in images and sculptures. He has already exhibited his work in Austria. In The Netherlands his work has be exhibited in various places. His sculptures are characterized by a certain lightness. Though made of iron, silver and copper his Ladybirds give the impression to be ready to fly away at any moment. Iron flowers perfectly balanced turn lively towards the sun. Saint Nino (or Nina) is the patron saint of Georgia. She made a cross of vine branches. This gave the Georgian crosses their slightly hanging arms. Gotscha makes Georgian crosses mostly from iron, but also from silver for an altar, or smaller, to be worn on a chain.
For the Father of the Smiths Art professor Alfred Habermann, Gotscha made a chain of forged rings, on each ring the name of the professor, and on the other side the name of the professors wife. Habermann is professor of the European Center for the Preservation of Monuments and Restoration in Venice, without doubt the most important institute in this field.
Gotschas work is remarkable because of his exceptional artistic ability, craftsmanship and specialized knowledge, his care for detail without exaggeration, his highly demanding attitude towards finish, and mostly by his outstanding art. " I do not draw so much beforehand," he says. "I bring the forms out of the metal as I feel them, without much measuring over and over again. In this way it does happen that pieces are left which cannot be used for anything anymore. Strictly speaking this should not be so, but well, it is just my way of working."
Only this man could copy this suit of armour
Newspaper article (De Volkskrant), by Christie Hoofmeester, 15th December 1998. (translation)
For ten years the Royal Dutch Army and Arms Museum in Delft searched without success for a smith with sufficient skills to make a copy of the iron suit of armour of prince Maurits from 1590, until G. Lagidse showed himself to be the right man, during an open day of the museum. This Friday his work will be in the museum.
In his smithy in Den Bosch Lagidse is working with the last leg piece, after 1600 working hours. Hanging on the wall are two mail shirts, helmets and countless photographs of the original armour, which stands in Vienna. The gilded rivets, the 169 parts, the dent in the breast plate, even the fact of the missing back plate and right index finger: Lagidse has copied everything unto perfection.
He has hardly had a chance to study the original. Nevertheless, the making of suits of armour was his dream. "A suit of armour is the symbol of the power of a nation. From when I was only 14 years old I have occupied myself with warmongery. Dutch suits of armour from the sixteenth and seventeenth century are very famous and graceful."
Chief curator J. Puype from the Army Museum: "In the whole of Europe I know nobody who is good at smiths work as well as having such perfect style anatomically. In Georgia people have made suits of armour into the beginning of this century. Lagidse is more than just a tin cutter."
About the suit of armour that will be exhibited in the Army Museum from January onwards, Lagidse did not worry so much. Only one day in the 1½ years he worked on the metal suit has he doubted if it would come out well. "It was exiting work," he says. "Especially the making of the helmet." The forms of this had to be very precise. "I was occupied with it every day, often started at six oclock in the morning. And whilst you are working, you do not have to think about it all the time."
Lagidse would rather not think too much about the future. "I wish to be only positive about that. I am a Georgian artist and I would like to become a Dutch artist as well. I would prefer to make autonomous work, in silver or bronze."
Before it goes I will breathe life into it
Georgian artist makes replica of the suit of armour of prince Maurits, Newspaper article (Brabants Dagblad), by Mary van Erp, 12th December 2002. (translation)
He worked on it for months, as if driven by a mysterious force, sometimes continuously for weeks on end. Now it is nearly finished, the replica of the cavalry suit of armour that was worn by prince Maurits around 1590. In the workshop of Gotscha Lagidse (33) it stands robust and stately on its base. As if it could walk away any minute.
Gotscha comes from Georgia. When still young he became fascinated by the Medieval armours from Asia and Europe. For a hobby he started to copy them and later took to restoration as well. In this way Gotscha became known and he decided to specialize in the art of smiths work.
On the wall of his workshop hang two mail coats, complete with shield, headdress, weapon gloves and sword. The armour is finished to the tiniest detail. The small rings that form the "knitted pattern" of the mail coat have been connected by means of small holes and nails. A gigantic amount of work for which, apart from craftsmanship, a more than usual amount of patience is necessary. "After visits to museums, the odd exhibition and the sending around of photographs I became somewhat known in the Netherlands," says Gotscha. "During the open day of the Royal Dutch Army and Arms Museum in Delft I came into contact with the main curator Jan-Piet Puype and that brought about this order." For eight months Gotscha worked almost incessantly on his masterpiece. "I knew I could do it, though I had never tried it before," he says proudly. "I was continuously aware of the fact that once upon a time someone else like me had done what I was doing now and that made it very special."
The specialization of which Gotscha is master, is becoming very rare. According to Puype in the Netherlands there is no longer anyone who is capable of this. "It has always been my dream to have the armour of prince Maurits here in our museum. But it could never be the original. That is in Vienna and is only lent out occasionally. So when the opportunity came, we agreed to it."
Gotscha has made serious study of the original suit of armour when it was exhibited in the Netherlands. With white gloves and under observation by two cameras he took careful measurements of all 169 parts. The replica is in no way different from the original, which misses the back plate. Also its mark of quality, the dent from a musket in the breastplate, has been put into it. When all the gilded rivets are in place and the double chiseled lines along the edges have been added, the suit will be ready.
Meanwhile he has become almost one with his piece of work. It will be difficult for him to have to part with it next week. "Theyd better take it away quickly then, but before it goes I will breathe life into it". After this Gotscha wants to leave the making of weaponry for a little while. His next piece will be a ladybird with silver wings. "And preferably in a workshop with living fire."
The Beatles were singing
Newspaper article (Achalgazrda Komunisti), by Mamuka Patschuaschvili, 5 July 1988. (translation)
Recently passers-by witnessed the strange scene in front of the publishing house. A young man who looked very modern was dressed very strangely. The photographer was taking photos. The young man was very tense, tried not to look at passers-by and was waiting for the photographer, who continued his business calmly. The people looked curiously at the young man, dressed in armour and helmet, who had not forgotten his khevsuretian sword. Everybody thought that they were shooting a film. But the matter was quite different. Our photo correspondent, Oleg Gvelesiani, was taking photos of the fourth year student of Tbilisi Polytechnic Institute, Gotscha Lagidse, who was wearing warriors armament, which he had made himself. These were very difficult moments for Gotscha, because he does everything just for love of this work and not for showing off. To come out in the main street of the city during the day time and to show himself wearing his own work was not easy for the modest man. But he couldnt refuse and this photo was taken at that very moment. This was the forgotten and never seen, which intruded into Tbilisi for a minute.
The Elizarashvili has the same feeling, the last to know the production of Georgian Djavari" (Bulati). They did not want to take the secret of this art with them into the grave, and they did not avoid teaching this craft to anyone. Georgia, together with India was famous for the production of the best steel "Djavari", in the whole world. Georgian swords had no equal in the world. In Tbilisi, in the nineteenth century lived the family of Elizarashvili, whose ancestor George was the famous master. He had inherited this craft himself and later gave it to his sons and grandsons. The production of the sword was secret. But one of Georges sons, Kharaman, in 1828 gave the secret of Georgian steel swords production and the patterns of his own swords to Russia. General Paskevich sent these patterns to Nicholai I. Very soon, from the Russian factory of Zlatoust, the advanced masters Ivjakov, Djatlov, Ivanovski and German master Vasil Goltferz were sent to Georgia. But people, who knew this trade well used to say that the Russian masters made good swords in Tbilisi, but in Russia they couldnt, because only theoretical knowledge was not enough.
Nowadays the recipe of Elizarashvilis steel is known Indian iron "Vuts", Georgian horseshoes, Georgian steel and cast iron powder mixed up together. But only recipe isnt enough, you need practical knowledge, patience and professionalism. Gotschas dream is to forge such a sword. He shared his idea with Themur Sulchanischvili and asked for help. Themur Sulchanischvili is the person who reconstructed the Rustaveli Theatre entrance door. After seeing Gotschas work, he agreed to help him.
Work is easy to say. Only Gotscha knows its value. Everything began quite early at school. During school years his teacher of history Djuanscher Djurchadze stimulated him in restoration of Georgian armours and presented him with a shield. Gotscha was in the 9th grade then. Since that period Gotscha became the frequent guest of the Georgian Arts Museum. He was standing for hours in front of the armours and helmets and studied to make it. Later he made a helmet, afterwards the armour. The work was very difficult, more difficult than he could imagine, but at the same time very attractive. He was sitting for hours, working and looking at steel wires. In the same room The Beetles were singing.
Time went on. His love grew and grew. He knew that he was ready to make the Georgian warriors armour. He worked almost the whole summer. The most painstaking was the making of armour. In the mail shirt are 56,000 little rings. It needs 9kg of steel. In armour one ring is connected with four rings. He needed two months for making the mail shirt. Then he make an arm-piece and helmet and later forged the Khevsuretian sword, with its yellow copper scabbard and shield. Many specialists esteemed Gotschas work. Recently he was granted the People’s Arts of Georgia. The Masters works are sent to Austria and to many exhibitions. The great Georgian printer Guram Gabaschvili mentioned that Gotscha Lagidse is a very desirable, purposeful and patriotic young man.
Gotscha will be a father in the near future and his children will have the love of old art and they will master the secret of this craft. Gotscha is young and he has much time to do more and more. Very soon hell graduate from the institute. He has planned to make the middle centuries European warriors armour.
lives an ordinary man whose wish is to make the real
Georgian "Djavari" sword, such as Elizarashvili's one and equal to
of the Georgian-born sculptor, armourer, and artist now living in the
Netherlands. Includes images of his armour, religious, ceremonial and private
artworks and his jewelry, as well as biographical and bibliographical data.