Georgia As Was
June 21, 2004 9:23 AM   Subscribe

The Georgian Museum of Photography. Old photos from the Caucasus.
posted by plep (3 comments total)
Thanks, plep, very interesting. Also, because of this I became curious and learned all about the famous Georgian medieval epic "the Knight in the Panther Skin" by Shota Rustaveli (mentioned briefly under the "Melkon Kachukhashvili, Alexander Michailov & Nikoloz Sagaradze" listing of the Masters of Photography section). I'm sure I should have already known about this, since:

As Homer is Greece, Dante Italy, Shakespeare England and Calderon and Cervantes Spain, so Rust'hveli is Georgia.... A people, if it is great, will create song and carry in its bosom a world poet. Such a monarch of the ages, still unknown to Russians, was Georgia's chosen one, Shot'ha Rust'hveli, who in the 12th century gave his motherland its banner and call 'Vephistkaosani' Wearer of the Snow-Leopard's Skin. This is the best poem about love ever written in Europe, a rainbow of love, a fiery bridge linking heaven and earth.

Just in case anyone is interested, there's more info about the poem here, and an English translation.
posted by taz at 2:23 PM on June 21, 2004

still unknown to Russians

I doubt that very much, since in the Soviet Union each republic had its assigned Great Work that represented it in the All-Union Concourse of Great Works [not a real title or event], and Georgia's was the Knight in the Panther (or "Tiger") Skin; I suspect anyone who studied literature was at least exposed to it. That notwithstanding, it's a wonderful poem, and I appreciate the link, which however frustrates me because it provides two Georgian versions that I can't read because I don't have the requisite fonts and am terrible at downloading such things. (Of course, I have a book with the Georgian text, purchased at the late lamented V. Kamkin Bookstore near Madison Square.)

To both you and plep: gmadlobt!

Oh, and one interesting point: this quintessential Georgian poem is set in the world of Persian myth and history, with Persian protagonists, just as the comparable Vietnamese national poem, Kim-Van-Kieu by Nguyen Du, is set in China with Chinese protagonists. Small, frequently colonized nations have complicated allegiances.
posted by languagehat at 4:51 PM on June 21, 2004

Ah!. I thought my comment was getting too long, so I cut out the source of the quote, the Russian poet Konstantin Balmont, who translated the poem into Russian.

He recalls his first encounter with Rust'hveli thus: "I first became acquainted with Rust'hveli amid the expanses of the ocean, not far from the Canary Islands, on an English ship bearing the name of Athene, beautiful goddess of wisdom. On board I met Oliver Wardrop, who gave me an English translation of The Snow-Leopard Skin, of which he had a proof copy, to read. The translation had been done with great affection by his sister, Marjory Scott Wardrop. To touch the Georgian rose amid the immensity of the ocean dawns, with the kindly complicity of Sun, Sea, the Stars, friendship and love, of wild water-spouts and fierce storms, produced an impression which I shall never forget."

..."Thus this ancient Georgian poem appeared almost simultaneously in two world languages" in the early 1900s.

And these days, in Europe at least, it's pretty easy to map the allegiances: just watch the EuroVision song contest and track how many points which countries give to the performers of other countries....
posted by taz at 5:02 PM on June 21, 2004

« Older The Clock is Ticking   |   moccu Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments