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Dec - 21 - 2012

Georgian Alphabet

Georgian Alphabet is very old and doesn’t resemble any other alphabet in the world. It has passed three stages of development: “Asomtavruli” (majuscule), “Nuskhuri” (minuscule) and “Mkhedruli” (civil). On the left you see the oldest known Georgian inscription of V c. (Bolnisi church)

The “Asomtavruli” can be traced in the written texts including the 11th century. From the 9th century there came into use the “Nuskhuri” alphabet and that remained till the 19th century. Beginning from the XI c. the “Nuskhuri” completely replaced “Asomtavruli” in manuscripts. The latter remained only in the inscriptions on stone and capital letters and titles of the manuscripts. That predetermined its name “Asomtavruli” – capital. Owing to its round shape the “Asomtavruli” was also called “Mrgvlovani” (rounded).

The “Mkhedruli” we use nowadays emerged in the X century.

To see Georgian letters click here.

Georgian manuscripts

The Georgian Kings, princes and noblemen cared a lot about creation and spread of handwritten books. They invited famous writers and ordered them to write necessary works. A lot of Georgian noblemen and even Kings were wonderful writers themselves. The manuscript workshops were opened at their palaces, where the book masters were working with great patience. Also the Georgian manuscripts were created at Georgian monasteries. They were built far away from the towns and villages, in the middle of the wood, in deep ravines or high mountains. They get us surprised how they managed to take constructing materials on such height. They say that this work was carried out by Oxen, the strongest, most silent and devoted friends of the human being. That’s why their heads often effigies on the walls of the churches. The monasteries were the best places for book writing. There, in peaceful and silent environment the monks were working. They were writers, scientists and scribes at the same time. They were creating the works about the lives of our heroic kings, were writing stories and church hymns about those excellent people who cared for strengthening the country. Our ancestors founded monasteries in abroad as well – like those in Jerusalem and Byzantine. Educated Georgian monks spent their lives in those monasteries, translating the works of best foreign authors, spreading and sending to their homeland new manuscripts. Due to their work the new knowledge was coming in Georgia continuously.

      The Athoni Monastery

In Macedonia, on the Island of Kalcedonia, in the mountain massive covered with vineyards and olive orchards the complex of the Athoni monastery is situated. Here different Christian people have built their monasteries. One of them – Ivironi, – belongs to Georgians. It was built in 980-983. The sons of noble families used to go as monks there.They got education, lived under severe monastery rules, translated books from Greek into Georgian, multiplied them and sent to their country. At present a lot of Georgian manuscripts are kept in the library of the Iviron monastery.


Petritsony Monastery of Georgian

At the court of Alex Komnenos Caesar the leader of West Byzantine troops, Georgian noble Grigol Bakuriani gained much popularity. In 1083, in Bulgaria, in Petritsoni, Grigol built a Georgian monastery. Bulgaria at that time was the part of Byzantine Empire. Grigol Bacuriani established there seminary together with the monastery. In the seminary the students were taught in Georgian and they were prepared to stay in Petritsony. There was foundeda new literature school in Petritsony Monastery famous for its philosophers.

The St. Cross Monastery of Georgian’s in Jerusalem

In the first half of XI century Georgians built St. Cross Monastery close to Jerusalem. It is surrounded by the high wall to be protected from enemies attacks. On the walls of the Monastery you can see first Christian King of Rome Konstantine and his mother Queen Helen. There are also the first Georgian Christian King Mirian and Queen Nana and other Georgian Kings and Queens. On the walls of Cross Monastery there is a portrait of Shota Rustaveli, the author of Georgian’s favourite book – “The Knight In The Panter’s Skin”. A lot of books were written in this Monastery in Georgian. Many of them were lost during the wars with crusaders and Moslems, but many had remained up to our days. Georgians always tried to maintain Cross Monastery. They sent money and donations. Georgians entered Jerusalem with opened banners.

Georgian book-printing also needed peace…

The constant wars disrupted school affairs in Georgia. There was lack of educated people. The Georgians wanted to learn very much, but the enemy drew them into the wars all the time. In spite of this the most diligent young people managed to get knowledge. This was possible only at the court, in the families of noble princes and some monasteries. Those days statesmen knew very well that the Georgian people needed education together with peace. That’s why they cared about the education of the Georgian people. They translated textbooks from foreign languages, compiled vocabularies, wrote new textbooks, history books, made legislation codes. The King of Kartli, Vakhtang VI established the printing house. This happened in 1712. Book printing needed peace as well. But there was no peace in Georgia. That was the reason Georgia stayed behind the Europe in book printing job.

Nameless masters

Do we knew all the names of those who built cloisters, who painted frescoes, who chiseled stone, who knitted, embroidered, who wrought the gold? of course not. What were you like, nameless masters? Didn’t you want to tell us your names? What were you thinking about while working? Observing your masterpieces one will necessarily think: “Thank you for that beauty.” There are a lot of such masters in every nation. What would our world be like if such people didn’t exist?

One Response so far.

  1. Howdy! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok.I’m undoubtedly enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.


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