December 18, 2012

0421 GEORGIA (Imereti) - Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery (UNESCO WHS)

0421 Gelati Monastery

I was always fascinated by the people from the Caucasus (the region situated between the Black and the Caspian sea, crossed by the mountains with the same name), for the tenacity with which they kept their language, traditions, religion and even their own alphabets, so different from the people around, despite their position between the Tsarist, Ottoman and Persian Empires. The current Georgia has separated from the Soviet Union in 1991, but, like many other former Soviet republics, has faced and faced even today with the separatist tendencies of some regions, in this case Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

During the antiquity, the independent kingdoms of Colchis and Iberia became established in what is now Georgia. They adopted Christianity in the early 4th century, but disintegrated into various feudal regions in the early Middle Ages, which unified into a single Georgian Kingdom until the beginning of the 11th century, reaching the peak of its political and economic strength between the reign of King David IV "the Builder" (1089-1125) and Queen Tamar (1184-1213).

Gelati Monastery, located near Kutaisi, in western Georgia, was founded even by King David "the Builder", who began building it in 1106, with Church of the Virgin, being completed in 1130 in the reign of his son and successor Demetré. Because it was thought as a centre for both Christian culture and Neo-Platonist learning, King David invited scholars to teach here, and thus the Gelati Academy became, according to medieval chroniclers, "a second Jerusalem" and "another Athos, albeit superior to it". Other buildings, like churches of St George and St Nicholas, were added to the monastery throughout the 13th and early 14th centuries.  Many Georgian rulers were buried here, including David the Builder himself, Queen Tamar (according to her chronicler, although this is disputed) and Bagrat III of Imereti.

It was burned by the Turkish invaders in 1510, the restoration work beginning in the early 16th century, and continuing throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. It lost its episcopal role in the early 19th century when Georgia was annexed by Russia. The monks were cast out by the communist authorities in 1922, but the churches were reconsecrated in 1988. The Gelati Monastery has preserved a great number of murals and manuscripts dating back to the 12th-17th centuries. The Khakhuli triptych, which incorporates over 100 specimens of Georgian and Byzantine cloisonné enamel dated from the 8th to the 12th century, had also been enshrined at Gelati until being stolen in 1859.

About the stampsThe two stamps with the value of 0.60 GEL (unfortunatelly overlapping) constitute the commemorative series Georgian cultural heritage monument David Gareji, VI c., designed by B. Gagnidze and issued on October 15, 2010. The third stamp, the yellow one, is part of a series of three (all with the same value - 0.40 GEL), depicting the Georgian alphabet and issued also on October 15, 2010.

Georgia (country) - Wikipedia
Gelati - Short Tour - 3,500 + Years of Underrated History
Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery - UNESCO official website

Sender: Anina (direct swap)
Sent from Batumi (Georgia), on 07.12.2012

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