Culture of Georgia (country)

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

Culture of Ancient and Old Georgia[edit]

Frescoes from the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, an example of Georgian medieval art depicting ships and monsters at sea.

The Georgian alphabet is traditionally said to have been invented in the 3rd 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[edit]

Georgian parade armour with golden plates

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

Ecclesiastical monuments[edit]

A page from a 12th-century Gelati Gospel, an example of Georgian illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages
Ceremonial crown of the Georgian high nobility, an example of metalwork from the early modern period

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[edit]

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

Notable Georgian written works from the medieval period include:

Culture of Georgia today[edit]

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

Starting from the early 16th century,[3] although certain aspects of more recent times were already incorporated since the 12th century,[4] until the course of the 19th century, Georgian culture became significantly influenced by Persian culture.[5] Though notably more visibly amongst the higher classes, Persian cultural aspects were incorporated amongst the already existing Georgian columns, especially painting, architecture, and literature.[3] The French traveller Jean Chardin who visited Georgia in 1672 noted that the Georgians of the kingdom of Kartli followed Persian customs.[3][6] Since many Georgian kings, princes, and nobles were either born or raised in mainland Iran, it is not surprising that Persian cultural aspects spread in Georgia.[3]

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

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.

2nd century BC bronze torso from Western Georgia, displayed at the Georgian National Museum

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 was 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), Alexandre Beridze (painter), Ivane Machabeli (translator), Okropir Bagrationi (translator), Sardion Aleksi-Meskhishvili (translator), Kharlampi Savaneli (opera singer), Pilimon Koridze (opera singer), Lado Agniashvili (folk singer), Alois Mizandary (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 Arts 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.


Georgian cuisine refers to the cooking styles and dishes created by the Georgians. The Georgian cuisine is unique to the country, but also carries some influences from other Caucasian, Eastern European and nearby Middle Eastern culinary traditions. Each historical province of Georgia has its own distinct culinary tradition, with variations such as Abkhazian, Megrelian, Kakhetian, Imeretian, Svanetian, Pshavian, Tushian, Kartlian, Gurian, Meskhian, Rachian and Adjarian cuisines. Rich with meat dishes, the Georgian cuisine also offers a variety of vegetarian dishes.

Georgian cuisine is the result of the broad interplay of culinary ideas carried along the Silk Road Trade route by merchants and travelers alike.[7] The importance of both food and drink to Georgian culture is best observed during a feast called supra, when a huge assortment of dishes are prepared, always accompanied by large amounts of local wine, known to be one of the world's oldest wines, produced in ancient authentic Georgian underground kvevri clay pots (dating 8 century BC). In a Georgian feast, the role of the tamada (toastmaster) is an important and honoured position.

Famous Georgian cultural figures[edit]

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


Ballet dancers[edit]

Nino Ananiashvili
Georgian folk dance performed by Sukhishvili ensemble



Opera singers[edit]


Mother and Son by Niko Pirosmani



Paolo Iashvili, a Georgian poet persecuted by the Soviet authorities


Theatre producers[edit]

Writers, male[edit]

Cultural groups[edit]

Dance troupes[edit]



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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Baramidze, Georgian literature
  2. ^ Destin de la Géorgie, Issues 36-37, 1978, p. 277
  3. ^ a b c d Willem Floor, Edmund Herzig. Iran and the World in the Safavid Age I.B.Tauris, 15 sep. 2012 ISBN 1850439303 p 494
  4. ^ Betz, Hans Dieter (2008). Religion past and present. Brill (originally from the University of Michigan. p. 361. (...) Since the 12th century and under Persian cultural influence, secular literature also developed (in Georgia)
  5. ^ Kennan, Hans Dieter; et al. (2013). Vagabond Life: The Caucasus Journals of George Kennan. University of Washington Press. p. 32. (...) Iranian power and cultural influence dominated eastern Georgia until the coming of the Russians
  6. ^ Chardin, Jean (1686). The travels of Sir John Chardin into Persia and the East Indies.
  7. ^ Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia, Volume 1, Ken Albala, p. 125
  8. ^ Chkheidze, Levan. "Georgian Art Portal | Artists". Art.Gov.Ge (in English and Georgian). Didistudia llc. Archived from the original on 17 November 2011. Retrieved 11 October 2020.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]