By Nino Gigineishvili
Sadly, most people in America are not aware of the existence of many countries including the Republic of Georgia (view the map), a part of the former Soviet Union. Georgia possesses an unique history and culture, which is worth knowing.
In order to appreciate the importance of this beautiful country, a brief historical overview is necessary. In the third century B.C., Georgia already existed as a monarchical state. King Parnaoz united and successfully ruled the country in the third and fourth centuries B.C. Unfortunately, the peace did not last for a long time: the neighboring tribes and countries constantly attacked Georgia because of its fertile land and strategic location on the trading crossroads of Europe and Asia, between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. Throughout centuries, Georgia has been conquered and ruled by the Romans, Persians, the Arabs, the Mongols, and the Turks. At last, after years of slavery, the country became united once again as the Kingdom of Georgia under King Bagrat Bagrationi in 975 A.D. This was the beginning of the prosperity, which reached its peak during the reign of David Agmashenebeli, David the Builder, in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The Bagrationi dynasty ruled the country until the annexation of Georgia by the Russian Empire at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Soon afterwards, the country was turned into many Gubernias, ruling districts established by the Russian Tzars, and in the twentieth century, under the rule of the soviet Union, it became the Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia. Finally, in 1989 the country achieved its independence once again.
Throughout history this beautiful country has been torn down and divided many different times. The warfare practically never stopped, but the Georgian people survived and kept sacred their culture, faith, folklore, and language. The orthodox Christian faith has been especially important to Georgians. In the fourth century, Saint Nino from Kabadokia (Palestine) spread Christianity in Georgia. Consequently, King Miriam accepted Christianity as the state religion in 337 A.D. Though the conversion of the pagan Georgians was not easy, once converted they became devote Christians. From then on, churches and monasteries started to rise everywhere and served many different purposes. They were major educational centers where scholars studied, researched and created Christian literature. They also provided shelters for the people during the enemy attacks. Finally, churches were not mere buildings but the representatives of the exclusive art of that time: they were decorated with many icons and frescoswall paintingscreated with extreme care and skill. Nowadays, one can see an old church in every city and mountaintop in the country.
Along with religion, Georgians have kept their traditions and folklore sacred. Especially folk dances and songs have received the most attention. Georgian folklore has played an important role in every aspect of the peoples lives. Georgians have sung in weddings, feast and even before and after going to war. There are many different kinds of dances and songs, each representing a specific region of the country. Moreover, the songs are unique in their harmony and multiplicity of voices. Most of the folk songs are sung without any kind of instrument. Georgian folklore is still significant to the people because through folklore, they express their culture, traditions, way of life, and even love for one another.
Georgian language is very precious for Georgian people. According to the legend, Georgian language was first created in the third century B.C. in the time of Parnaoz. However, the first fully developed script of Georgian writing outside of the country was found in the seventh century A.D. in the Christ Church in Jerusalem, which signifies not only the existence of well-developed language at that early stage in history, but also the importance of religion in Georgia and its missionary power in the world. Since then, the language has greatly changed but the roots still remain the same. Nowadays, the Georgian alphabet consists of thirty-three letters and is totally different from Russian as well as other well-known alphabets.
It would not be enough just to discus Georgian culture without saying a few words about the people who have created this culture. The Georgian people are courageous, loyal, and extremely hospitable. It truly was because of these characteristics that Georgia survived and kept alive its traditions. Today, Georgians still astonish others with their attitude of love and care. Through the centuries, Georgia, The land of Georgeas foreigners have called it, was forced many times to blend into the cultures of their conquerors, but because of the heroism and patriotism of its own people, Georgia has survived the brutality of history and still lives today.
This essay was published in "Perspectives in History" at Northern Kentucky University in Volume XII 1996-97.
For more detailed information about Georgia, its culture and history, please refer to the following sites.
Georgia on the Parliament
The Parliament of Georgia
Irakli Chikashuas Home Page
Tbilisi -The capital of Georgia
Irakli Chikashua's Picture Gallery
More Pictures of Georgia
Designed and maintained by Nino Gigineishvili
Last Updated:07/07/98 10:49:04 PM