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Culture, Language, Script and Alphabet

The Georgian language is the state language of Georgia. The most ancient Georgian inscriptions are Mrglovani or Asomtavruli dates back to the 5th century A.D., Nuskhuri dates back to the 9th century A.D., Mkhedruli inscriptions used today belongs to the 10th century. Georgian is the only language in the Ibero-Caucasian family having ancient script. According to the Georgian tradition the Georgian alphabet was created in the 3rd century B.C. by Georgian king Pharnaoz and is among the 14 existing ones all over the world. It includes 33 symbols (28 consonants and 5 vowels). The shape of the letters is unique, with round forms and it can not be compared to any other alphabet. The main important thing which makes difference from other old languages is that Georgian original and translated works written 15 centuries ago are understandable for educated readers, but works in old Greek and Latin languages need translation for modern Greeks and Italians.

Georgian literature dates back to the fifth century A.D. The earliest surviving Georgian text has existed from the 5th century Martyrdom of Shushanik by Iakob Tsurtaveli. The most important work was Georgia’s national epic poem, “The Knight in the Tiger’s skin” by Shota Rustaveli. Scholars have compared the 12th century Georgian poet  Shota Rustaveli to Dante and  Shakespeare. From the written inscribes, the oldest is inscribe of Bethlem Monastery in Palestine (432-433), but  on Georgian territory, inscribe of Bolnisi Sioni (493-494).

Music, Georgian National dancing, canticles and folksongs in particular, form one of the most important elements of Georgian culture. Georgian songs are famous by their complicated polyphony and are still very significant for Georgians and have been preserved in almost all parts of Georgia. There are various genres of songs: supruli (songs for the table,  Mravalzhamier), satrpialo (love songs), sagmiro (epic songs) and sagalobeli (church songs). Since the 19th century Georgia has also developed a classical music tradition. The great Georgian composer was Zakaria paliashvili, his famous works are “Abesalom and Eteri” (1919) and “Daisi” (1923). Tbilisi Opera House is named after him. Many internationally famous Georgian musicians Liana Isakadze, the bass Paata Burchuladze, the Georgian National Quartet, The pianists Lexo Toradze and Eliso Virsaladze perform mostly abroad. Traditional Georgian dances are known world-wide. At the wedding ceremonies it’s important that just married couple has to dance Georgian dance in spite of they know or don’t know it. Each region has its own dances: Achara and Guria have the Khorumi, a soldiers dance; Khevsureti has the Khevsuruli, a dance in which men fight over a woman with swords etc.  Georgian national ensembles have reached the most success all over the world (ensembles: Sukhishvili National Ballet,  Erisioni, Rustavi). Georgia also has great performers of classical ballet Vakhtang Chabukiani in the 1930s and the present Nino Ananiashvili and Irma Nioradze. 


The sense of national identity of the Georgian people was always closely related to the rich cultural heritage of their country.  The need for the care of their cultural heritage is deeply rooted in the consciousness of the Georgian people. A rare inscription of the 12th century preserved in St Savior’s church in Svaneti, the region, where people and towers stand with the same obstinacy, says - "Who will be abbot of this church, should defend these painting from smoke to avoid defacing and damaging their colors" can be regarded as a symbol of the attitude of Georgians towards their cultural heritage. This appeal for the preservation and maintenance of their cultural heritage by the priest, Kvirike, serves as a motto from generation to generation.


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