Georgian Wonder

By Jonathan Pageau on November 25, 2014

I have already posted an article on Contemporary Georgian artists.  But it seems like every week I discover one more amazing Georgian artist doing things in repoussé, wood, stone, enamel or mosaic that very few are able to equal in quality and especially in vivacity.  Vivacity is really the world to use, an art that is confident and anchored without being simply repetitive.

The most recent artist I have discovered is an amazing stone carver named Giorgi Laliashvili.  On his facebook page we find images of a huge stone pillar with a giant stone cross atop it. The pillar is all carved with scenes from the Gospels and Tradition.


Stone pillar in Georgia carved by Giorgi Laliashvili

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Stone grave cross by Giorgi Laliashvili


The same carver has also made two sarcophagi for a shrine involving another artist named David Khidasheli and mosaists Michael Soziashvili and Badri Bakuradze.


Nice mosaics, right?  You haven’t seen anything yet. On David Khidasheli’s facebook page there are images of a mosaic dome of Christ Pantocrator, the strength and subtlety of which we have not seen in Christianity since the Cefalu Cathedral in Sicily.


Then there is metal work.  Georgians have always been known for their metalwork, and it is pure joy to see how alive this tradition is.  Strong deep repoussé work with uncut bezeled stones or fine enamel icons appear in pieces one would instinctively believe to be part of some museum collection somewhere.  These images are also taken from David Khidasheli’s facebook page.

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Then there is enamel work.

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Then there is miniature carving.  This a particularly gifted artist named Niko Badurashvili

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In finishing, I think I have found the ultimate proof of the unrivaled vivacity of Georgian art.  Last year a Georgian artist posted these two pictures on his facebook page of a recently built church.  In front of the church, in the image of the boldness, confidence and daring of Georgian liturgical artists, were two stone gryphons.  Any liturgical tradition alive today that can unflinchingly put two huge stone gryphons guarding a church has me bowing in reverence.

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  1. Gale on November 27, 2014 at 9:18 am

    This work is amazing. Thank you for your research and for sharing it with us. My hat is off to these gifted liturgical artists.

  2. Terry Cowan on December 1, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    This is incredible. I visit Georgia every year. Do you know the location of the last church pictured (with the gryphons), or of the shrine? Also, do you have the links for any of the artisans referenced in this article? Last May, I saw an example of a beautiful new church in Samtredia, incorporating design elements from the classic ruined 9-10th century ruined churches of Tao Klarjeti in Turkey that we had just visited. Thanks again for sharing this.

    • Jonathan Pageau on December 3, 2014 at 8:06 am

      The artisans can mostly be found on facebook. I have found David Kidhasheli to be generous in his communications, but for many of the other artists, English is a barrier. It seems the church with the Gryphons is St. Nino’s Church in Tsagveri, southeast of Borjomi, in Samtskhe-Javakheti.

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