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Georgia-Tbilisi Museums

Oct - 3 - 2013
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Golden-Lion

Golden Lion Figurince,
2 th half of III century BC, Tsnori (Kakheti)

THE MUSEUM FOR SOME IS ASSOCIATED WITH DUSTCOVERED EXHIBITS (WE HAVE EXPERIENCED TH IS TOO, SADLY); FOR OTHERS IT IS A FIELD OF RESEARCH; THERE ARE STILL OTHERS, HOWEVER, FOR WHOM THE MUSEUM IS AN AURA OF MYSTERY AND ELATION HANGING ROUND ITS COLLECTIONS. MUSEUMS WILL NEVER LOSE THEIR CURRENCY, IN ANY CASE. MUSEUM MANAGEMENT STANDARDS ARE BEING CONTINUALLY UPGRADED AND THE CONCEPTS OF EXHIBITIONS ARE TAILORED TO SUIT A THE NEEDS OF THE VISITORS. IT GIVES THE GREATEST PLEASURE TO TBILISI DWELLERS AND FOREIGN GUESTS THAT THE TBILISI MUSEUM IS FINALLY PUTTING ITSELF IN ORDER. REPAIR WORKS PERFORMED IN RECENT YEARS IN THE NATIONAL GALLERY AND THE SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM OF HISTORY HAVE ALLOWED, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY, GEORGIAN ARTWORKS TO BE EXHIBITED ON A PAR WITH INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS. REPAIR WORKS ARE TO START SOON IN THE SHALVA AMIRANASHVILI MUSEUM OF FINE ART AS WELL.

The Simon Janashia Museum of History opened its doors with an exhibition of archaeological findings in June 2011. The exhibition is unique in the sense that it displays gold and silver items found exclusively throughout the territory of Georgia and traces the history of the country from the 3rd millennium BC up to the 4 th millennium AD, revealing the country in all its glory and brilliance.

“lt was gold, silver, iron and copper found in abundance in Colchis that must have spurred Jason to risk a long journey” – Strabo is quoted as saying in his “Geography”. Georgian tribes enjoyed versatile goldsmithery traditions a whole millennium before the gold-rich kingdom of Colchis came into existence. Kurgans provide an increasing body of evidence of these traditions. The evolution of Georgian goldsmithery art is represented in three sections in the exhibition hall: 1) The Great Kurgan Culture – 3 rd – 2 nd millennia BC; 2) Goldrich Colchis – 8 th – 3 rdcenturies BC; 3) Kingdom of Iberia (Kartli) – 3 rd century BC – 4 th century AD.

The chief curator of archaeological collections of the Georgian National Museum, Darejan Kacharava, explains that exquisite pieces discovered in Kurgan barrows point to the increased sophistication of goldsmith schools in this penod.

The Kurgans have yielded a wide selection of gold and silver jewelry including: temple-rings, necklaces, pins, rings and covers used for adornment, including for the bow. At that time a range of techniques were utilized for gold processing. The museum exhibition features a sculpture of a golden lion discovered in the Alazani valley, which was used as an adornment of the funeral cart, as well as silver covers overlaid with grapevine ornaments.

Trialeti Culture opens up to the world a greater variety ofarchaeological evidence, including jewelry and other artifacts, such as pottery. Gold pieces show early attempts at granulation combined with filigree design and incrustationan original method of decoration using a colourful combination of precious and semiprecious stones. These techniques dating back to the 2 nd – 1 st millennia BC have run through Georgian art for centuries and even come down to the present day. Diadems and standards, symbols of power, are viewed as proof of social stratification and the emergence of the ruling class.

Golden-hair-embellishments

vani detail of a Golden hair embellishments, IV century BC.

The finds in the Vani and Sairkhe graves contain rich evidence to support the assertions that gold-rich Colchis did truly exist. The artistic and stylistic features of these finds confirm their relation to two Georgian goldsmith schools. These finds do not reflect any influence of Greek and Achaemenian artistic traditions and it is already indisputable that they are the handiwork of local goldsmiths. For example, the ornamented facade of an earring features filigree and a granulated floral design with a bird figure perching atop. The ring is open with its ends flattened and punctured. Diadems inset with rhombic plates are of purely Colchian origin. Archetypes of such diadems are also found made of bronze.

Archaeological digs brought to light a complex jewelry ensemble of the noble Colchian woman, consisting of a diadem, temple-rings, ear-rings, several strings of beads, bracelets, rings… fragments of apparel are overlaid with gold plates.

A great number of gold and silver articles were found in burial grounds, ancient ruins and hoards. The exhibitiongives a broad outline of the items discovered in the 13 th tomb of Sairkhe and the 11 th tomb of Vani. The latter dated the 4 th century BC is the final resting place of the upper-class woman and contains over 1500 gold pieces. A gem of the collection is a pendant with a turtle image. The turtle is outlined by intricate granulation. The remaining surface of the pendant is encrusted with opaque glass.

Archaeological findings discovered in the tombs of that period include a spoon and а one-of-a-kind vessel with а pointed end.

Excavations did not locate a goldsmithery workshop of ani kind, but brought to the surface a set of polishing tools, gold scrap and wires, which clearly suggest that gold processing has been practiced by man since time immemorial. Тthe most striking fact is that masters of the Middle Ages used exactly the same tools as are used today.

The Kingdom of lberia (Kartli) section of the exhibition features an exclusive range of items found in the graves of Kartli Pitiakhshs (viceroys) throughout Mtskheta and its surrounds. These items, which remain completely unaffected by the influence of Colchian style, absorb the colorfulness of precious and semiprecious stones. Gold is used only in the form of dividing plates. The collection features the first Cloisonne enameled piece in the shape of a golden dagger sheath.

The exhibition’s glass cases feature masterpieces of timeless quality: a Trialeti cup, Vani diadems, Khovle glass vessels (the world knows only five analogous vessels, of which two are found in Georgia). There is a separate case containing writing implements of the ancient era: a silver box graced with an image of the nine muses, silver pens contained in this box, a gold inkpot decorated with portraits of Homer, Menandre and Demostine.

The language of artworks is difficult to understand unless they are visually observed and read. The given article is an attempt to give merely a skin-deep picture of what Georglans call their treasure and what Rustaveli had in his mind when saying: “l have countless possessions weighed by none”…

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