Georgia, culture and history


Pronounced: gallery "Bremmer", Tilburg, 3 September 2000- opening of the exposition

Reality and dreams, childhood, everyday impressions, cultural and spiritual background of the country of birth. Different combinations of all mentioned above in different levels are involved in the creative process of art.

Gotscha was born and raised in Georgia. This sunny country, rich by oldest culture and mythology, known by special lifestyle and traditions has natural influence on his works. Gotscha is working metal armours and small sculptures by means of technology, which has itself very big tradition in Georgia. By archaeologists were found specific Georgian armours, dated from XIII century before Christ. Greek historical of V century BC - Herodotus is mentioning about tradition of armour in Georgia. For Georgians armour is not only the defending attribute, but is also symbolizes the spiritual strength. That can be one of the reasons, why armours sometimes were presented to Christian churches.

One of the attributes of Georgian armours is a mail coat, which is made by sticking the rings together. Itself ring had different forms, which was dependent on the meaning of the work and the creative process of an artist. A mail coat, as well as other attributes of armour, was traditionally made with the creative artistic process. That's is why nearly every Georgian armour differs from any other - by its stylistic and creative independence. Gotscha, based on Georgian philosophical understanding of on armour, riser the old, nearly forgotten technology. He is making armours with the artistic creative process, creating new nuances of forms of the main parts or details. That is why his works in this direction have their strong identity and that is why they have high original artistic value. With the same unique technology he is creating small sculptures, which makes them very special. These sculptures have mainly round shapes, which give to them certain stylistic direction.

Gotscha's work is full of mystery and spirituality. In the work of Gotscha can be seen strongly indicated Christian symbols, - with the meaning of the basic spiritual fundament of humanity. But he is also creating personal symbols like: The Flower- symbol of beauty, the form of the boll - symbol of universality of the form or idea.

In our modern times many artists try to look back in time and base their art on oldest cultures of the world, but for Gotscha Lagidse that is a natural process through his the place of birth.

Zura Kalanda (Kalandadze) / art critics

Tbilisi, Metechi en Narichala

First  Blacksmiths in Georgia

Tubals (Tabals) and Meshechs (or Meshekhs/Mosokhs) were most ancient, non-IndoEuropean and non-Semitic indigenous tribes of Asia Minor and the Caucasus of the 3rd-1st millennias BC. They were Proto-Iberian tribes. Descendants of Tubals and Meshekhs are Georgians. The Book of Genesis (chap. 10) gives us the descendants of Noah's three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. We are told that the sons of Japheth were Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras. Tubals, Khalibs, Mosiniks were founders of metallurgy. According to majority of scholars the ancient country of Tubal (Tabal) comprised the area of Great Cappadocia (now territory of Turkey). Already the modern scholars identified the term Tubal with Tabal, Tobal, Jabal and Tibarenoi. Many authors, following Josephus (1st century AD), related the term to Iber. Concerning the question of the ethnic affinity of the population of Tubal, Josephus wrote: "Tobal gave rise to the Tobals, which are now called Iberians". This version was repeated by Eustathius of Antioch, Bishop Theodoret and others. Iberians were Georgians, the population of the Kingdom of Iberia (Eastern and South-Eastern Georgia). One of greatest Georgian historians of the 20th century, Ivane Javakhishvili, considered Tabal, Tubal, Jabal and Jubal to be ancient Georgian tribal designations. On the evidence of Hecataeus, Herodotus, Xenophon, Strabo and others, the Georgian (Kartvelian) tribe of  Tibarenoi lived in the north of the territory of  Tubal. Main sources of the history of Tubal are also Assyrian texts of the 9th- 7th centuries BC, the Cappadocian tablets and the hieroglyphic-Luwian inscriptions of the 9th - 8th centuries BC.



Georgia Today, Issue nr.28, 6 October 2000
By Maia Duishvili

The culture and technology of weapons was a vital part of any country's evolution. As well as being dangerously sharp, quite an amount of attention was also often paid to the design of handheld metal weaponry. As "hot-blooded"
Georgia has had a history of almost constant wars, weapon making is naturally well developed here. Top quality weapons were simply bare necessities. Ancient Georgian tribes were known as metal making tribes and their steel weapons could easily cut through enemy offerings.

Iron was widely used in
Georgia as far back as the 12th century BC. Starting from that period, people were constantly perfecting their iron and steel sabres and daggers. Unfortunately, these techniques then became lost in the mists of time. The only specialist in this field now, who incidentally has nearly single-handedly managed to revive an original ancient technique, is Kakha Zarnadze, the head of Khridoli, the scientific research center dedicated to Georgian warrior art. A graduate of the Nicoladze College of Art and later of the Tbilisi Academy of Art and a painter by profession, Zarnadze can't imagine life without his forge. "For nearly fifteen years, twenty three friends and I have been collecting information about the history and technique of Georgian national fighting. Without weapons it would not haveexisted.

"We know for sure that one family in Svaneti are still making steel weapons. The Tsindelianis make Svanetian hunting knives called 'gaach' using their own methods. Thanks to Patriarch Ilia II, we have a workshop and it has become possible to realize our dream and produce more than 30 sabres and daggers in under two years," said Zarnadze. It was Kote Cholokashvili, an ethnographer, who first gave Kakha a unique document passed down from the Elizarashvili family, which describes a special technique for making steel daggers and swords.

From the very first day that
Georgia became part of the Russian Empire, the Tsar (Nicholas I) tried to get his hands on the technique. The head of the Elizarashvili family was arrested for this veryreason. He was "persuaded" to share the skilledfamily tradition with the Russian Zlotousk factory, otherwise his family would have been sent to Siberia . Elizarashvili, his sons and his technique were forcibly moved to Russia . Weapon samples made under Elizarashvili's supervision are acknowledged as the best in 19th century Russian weapon-making history. After Elizarashvili's death, however, the tradition was lost because it was discovered that one vital ingredient in Elizarashvili's "recipe" had followed him to the grave. It is quite remarkable that not only every region, but also almost every family in Georgia had its own steel forge and weapon production method. No two were exactly alike. "That's why it is very difficult to say that we have completely managed to revive the technique," explained Zarnadze.

There are four different stages to weapon-forging. First, there is the process of creating steel out of iron, then mixing carbon into the steel, "damask steel" is the penultimate stage and the lastly, cast steel is produced. A chance mistake in any one of these four stages can endanger the weapon's top-quality status. Steel tempering, as was mentioned, varies from region to region in
Georgia . And so it is that, in Kakheti, flint was added to make the blade stronger. In Kiziki people prefer to temper steel in milk. "We don't use these 'technologies' any more," said Zarnadze. "Chemical science has helped us a lot, although everything is still done by hand." According to Zarnadze, real damask steel should reverberate for 30 seconds when struck. Real steel never rings less than that. "My friends and I try to make the weapons authentic, even from the artistic point of view. We follow our ancestors' artistic flair and add ornamentation to sabres and daggers, the design of which dates back to the third century B.C." He has never understood why people buy the touristy daggers on sale in the street. He can hardly even call them knives.

Not long ago, Duke Raminsburg came from
Germany and was so impressed by Zarnadze's creation that he gave Kakha the honorary title of a duke. "I was very pleased and made a wonderful dagger especially for him," smiled Zarnadze. "In the future, I would like to learn the 'zarnishi' technique, which is the making of silver and gold decoration on steel." This is incredibly complicated because whilst visible from the outside, it's actually done from the inside. He hopes to have Guram Gabashvili as his teacher, the one and only master of the 'zarnishi' technique alive in Georgia today.

Edited by Julie Guyot


The existence of the primitive man on the Georgian territory can be traced back to the Achelian and Mousterian epochs of Upper Paleolithic.

The Bronze Age on the territory of Georgia started in the 2nd millennium BC.

The excavations of barrows in Trialeti and Samtavro belong to this period. In the middle of the 2nd and the beginning of the 1st millennium, on the territory of Georgia a number of large, ancient Georgian tribal alliances were formed. In the 6th-4th cc BC emerged Georgian slave-owning kingdoms - Colchis (Western Georgia) and Iberia (Eastern and Southern Georgia).

The beginning on the new era was marked with Roman expansion towards Georgia. In the 4th-5th cc AD Lazika(Kolchis) fell into sphere of Sasanian Iran.

In 337 Georgia officially adopted Christianity. By the 6th century it had been made up into a feudal state and was seized by Arabs in the 7th century. As a result of liberation movement (the 9th century) Arab invaders were thrown off. In the 10th-11th centuries Georgia was united under the Royal House of Bagrationi. Georgia became especially prosperous during the reign of David IV (the Builder) (1089-1125). He was able to unify Georgia, weaken influential feudals and create a powerful state. The policy of unification as well as of the cultural and economic development of the country was continued under George III (1156-1184) and Queen Tamar (1184-1213). Such a policy resulted in the super power with numerous vassalates.

The rise in economy was accompanied by the golden age in culture. It is the period when Shota Rustaveli creates his masterpiece, "Kartlis Tskovreba" (the set of historical essays) is written, academies, monasteries and spiritual centres are set up.

In the first half of the 13th century the country was seized by Mongols and disintegrated into numerous kingdoms and counties. In the 15th century the Mongolian pressure weakened but Georgia got in a strangle grip of Turkey and Iran.

However, Georgia never gave up and kept struggling against its invaders. At the same time, economic decay hindered the development of the state. In 1783, King Irakli II established the protectorate of Russia over the Georgian Kingdom. This act is known as the Treaty of Giorgievsk. In 1801 Russia violated the Treaty, included Georgia in its empire an abolished the Georgian Kingdom. Georgian people rose against the Russian autocracy. After the Russian emperor had been overthrown, Georgia was declared an independent democratic republic (26 May, 1918). Democracy lasted in Georgia only for three years. In 1921 it was annexed by the Red Army and became a part of the Soviet Union (1921-1990). In 1991 Georgia declared independence and seceded from the USSR.




Gotscha Lagidse


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