Culture of Georgia (country)

Culture of Georgia (country)
A page from a rare 12th century Gelati Gospel depicting the Nativity from the Art Museum of Georgia in Tbilisi.

The Georgian culture has evolved over the country's long history, providing it with a unique national culture and a strong literary tradition based on the Georgian language and alphabet. This has provided a strong sense of national identity that has helped to preserve Georgian distinctiveness despite repeated periods of foreign occupation.


Culture of old Georgia

The Georgian alphabet is traditionally said to have been invented in the 5th century BC and reformed by King Parnavaz I of Iberia in 284 BC. Most modern scholarship puts its origin date at some time in the 5th century AD, when the earliest examples can be found.

Georgia's medieval culture was greatly influenced by Eastern Orthodox Christianity and the Georgian Orthodox and Apostolic Church, which promoted and often sponsored the creation of many works of religious devotion. These included churches and monasteries, works of art such as icons, and hagiographies of Georgian saints. In addition, many secular works of national history, mythology and hagiography were also written.

Ecclesiastical art

The Icon from Martvili (10th century)

Medieval Georgian icons are renowned as being among the finest creations of Orthodox religious art. Notable examples include:

  • The Icon of 886 from Zarzma monastery
  • The Icon of the 9th century from Tsilkani
  • The famous Wonderworking Iberian Icon of the Mother of God (10th century)
  • The Icon of the 10th century from Okona
  • The Icon of Our Lady of Khakhuli of the 12th century
  • The Icon of St. George of the 11th century from Labechina
  • The Icon of St.George of the 11th century from Nakipari
  • The Icon of the 12th century from Anchiskhati
  • The Icon of the 14th century from Ubisa
  • The Icon of the 16th century from Alaverdi

Ecclesiastical monuments

Well-known monuments of Georgian Christian architecture include:

Well-known Georgian painters were: Damiane (13th century), Anania (15th century), Mamuka Tavakarashvili (17th century), etc.

The works of the famous Georgian goldsmiths, Beka and Beshken Opizari (11th century), are outstanding contributions to world art.

Literary and other written works

The Manuscript of "The Knight in the Panther's Skin" (16th century)

Important Georgian literary works of the pre-Christian period are:

  • Amiraniani, ancient Georgian folk epos.

Notable Georgian written works from the medieval period include:

  • Martyrdom of the Holy Queen Shushanik by Iakob Tsurtaveli (the oldest surviving work of the Georgian literature written between 476 and 483)
  • Corpus Areopagiticum, a philosophical and theological work attributed by some to Peter the Iberian (5th century)
  • The Life of Saint Nino (8th century) (anon)[1]
  • The Martyrdom of Abo Tbileli by Ioane Sabanisdze (8th century)
  • The Life of Grigol Khandzteli by Giorgi Merchule (10th century)
  • Ustsoro Karabadini (Peerless Karabadini) 10th century
  • A History of the Georgian Kings ("Tskhovreba Kartvelta Mepeta") by Leonti Mroveli (11th century)
  • A History of the Royal House of Bagrationi by Sumbat Davitisdze (11th century)
  • Eteriani, a folk epic (c. 11th century)
  • Life of the King Farnavaz (anon) (11th century)
  • Tamariani by Ioane Chakhrukhadze (12th century)
  • Shen Khar Venakhi ("Thou Art a Vineyard"), the famous Georgian religious hymn by the King Demetre I Bagrationi (12th century)
  • Vepkhistkaosani (The Knight in the Panther's Skin), a national epic poem by Shota Rustaveli (12th century)
  • Abdulmesiani by Ioane Shavteli (13th century)
  • Kartlis Tskhovreba (History of Georgia), a collection of old Georgian chronicles (from ancient times to the 14th century)

Culture of Georgia Today

Wall Painting in Georgia's ancient Monastery, Shio-Mghvime

During the modern period, from about the 17th century onwards, Georgian culture has been greatly influenced by cultural innovations imported from elsewhere in Europe.

The first Georgian-language printing house was established in the 1620s in Italy and the first one in Georgia itself was founded in 1709 in Tbilisi.

Georgian theatre has a long history; its oldest national form was the "Sakhioba" (extant from the 3rd century BC to the 17th century AD). The Georgian National Theatre was founded in 1791 in Tbilisi, by the writer, dramatist and diplomat Giorgi Avalishvili (1769–1850). Its leading actors were Dimitri Aleksi-Meskhishvili, David Machabeli, David Bagrationi, Dimitri Cholokashvili and others.

In Tbilisi the Museum of the Caucasus was founded in 1845. In the 1920s it became the State Museum of Georgia. The Tbilisi State Theatre of Opera and Ballet established in 1851.

Greatest representatives of Georgian culture of the 19th century were: Nikoloz Baratashvili (poet), Alexander Orbeliani (writer), Vakhtang Orbeliani (poet), Dimitri Kipiani (writer), Grigol Orbeliani (poet), Ilia Chavchavadze (writer and poet), Akaki Tsereteli (poet), Alexander Kazbegi (writer), Rapiel Eristavi (poet), Mamia Gurieli (poet), Iakob Gogebashvili (writer), Simon Gugunava (poet), Babo Avalishvili-Kherkheulidze (actor), Nikoloz Avalishvili (actor), Nikoloz Aleksi-Meskhishvili (actor), Romanoz Gvelesiani (painter), Grigol Maisuradze (painter), Alexander Beridze (painter), Ivane Machabeli (translator), Okropir Bagrationi (translator), Sardion Aleksi-Meskhishvili (translator), Kharlampi Savaneli (opera singer), Pilimon Koridze (opera singer), Lado Agniashvili (folk singer), Alioz Mizandari (composer), etc.

The first cinema in Georgia was established in Tbilisi on November 16, 1896. The first Georgian cinema documentary ("Journey of Akaki Tsereteli in Racha-Lechkhumi") was shot in 1912 by Vasil Amashukeli (1886–1977), while the first Georgian feature film ("Kristine") was shot in 1916 by Alexandre Tsutsunava (1881–1955).

The Tbilisi State Academy of Art was founded in 1917.

Georgian culture suffered under the rule of the Soviet Union during the 20th century, during which a policy of Russification was imposed but was strongly resisted by many Georgians. Since the independence of Georgia in 1991, a cultural resurgence has taken place, albeit somewhat hampered by the country's economic and political difficulties in the post-Soviet era.

Famous Georgian cultural figures

Some famous Georgian cultural figures from the 20th-21st centuries are:


  • David (Dodo) Abashidze
  • Veriko Anjaparidze
  • Spartak Bagashvili
  • Givi Berikashvili
  • Ushangi Chkheidze
  • Ramaz Chkhikvadze
  • Giorgi Gegechkori
  • Akaki Vasadze
  • Iza Gigoshvili
  • Vaso Godziashvili
  • Kakhi Kavsadze
  • Akaki Khorava
  • Zurab Kipshidze
  • Zina Kverenchkhiladze
  • Avtandil Makharadze
  • Erosi Manjgaladze
  • Merab Ninidze
  • Giorgi Sagaradze
  • Guram Sagaradze
  • Karlo Sakandelidze
  • Sesilia Takaishvili
  • Levan Uchaneishvili
  • Bukhuti Zakariadze
  • Sergo Zakariadze
  • Alexandre Zhorzholiani
  • Nato Vachnadze
  • Edisher Maghalashvili
  • Sofiko Chiaureli

Ballet dancers



  • Tengiz Abuladze
  • Mikheil Chiaureli
  • Revaz Chkheidze
  • Otar Ioseliani
  • Mikheil Kobakhidze
  • Merab Kokochashvili
  • Guram Meliava
  • Kote Mikaberidze
  • Guram Pataraia
  • Eldar Shengelaia
  • Giorgi Shengelaia
  • Alexandre Tsutsunava
  • Nana Mchedlidze
  • Mikheil KalatoziSvili
  • Nikoloz SaniSvili
  • Buba Khotivari
  • Kartlos Khotivari


  • Levan Paatashvili
  • Lomer Akhvlediani
  • Nugzar Nozadze
  • Giorgi BeriZe

Opera singers

  • Petre Amiranashvili
  • Medea Amiranashvili
  • David Andguladze
  • Nodar Andguladze
  • Lado Ataneli
  • Paata Burchuladze
  • David Gamrekeli
  • Makvala Kasrashvili
  • Valerian Kashakashvili
  • Alexandre Khomeriki
  • Badri Maisuradze
  • Vano Sarajishvili
  • Zurab Sotkilava
  • Nino Surguladze
  • Tsisana Tatishvili
  • Maia Tomadze


Mother and Son by Niko Pirosmani




Theatre producers


Cultural groups

Dance troupes


Sukhishvilebi - Georgian National Ballet


Rustavi Choir Martve Choir


See also Rugby union in Georgia, Football in Georgia

Rugby union is a popular team sport played in Georgia, rugby union is considered the second most popular sport in Georgia, after association football.


Georgian cuisine is considered one of the main attractions for tourists in Georgia, and it is particularly popular throughout the former Soviet Union.[who?] The Georgian cuisine is very specific to the country, but also contains some influences from the Middle Eastern and European culinary traditions. The cuisine offers a variety of dishes, high in various herbs and spices. Each historical province of Georgia has its own distinct culinary tradition, such as Megrelian, Kakhetian, or Imeretian cuisines. The food, in addition to various meat dishes, also offers a variety of vegetarian meals. The cuisine is very varied with different dishes cooked daily.

The importance of both food and drink to Georgian culture is best observed during a feast, or supra, when a huge assortment of dishes is prepared, always accompanied by large amounts of wine, and dinner can last for hours. In a Georgian feast, the role of the tamada (toastmaster) is an important and honoured position.

See also


External links

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