|April 25, 2008|
A long time ago, Georgian people denied the national style of dress in favor of European dress and for years the only place where the national garment could be seen was at Georgian folk group performances. For our ancestors it was an indispensable piece of clothing, but nowadays if someone appeared in public dressed in a chokha people would most likely peg the individual as a member of a musical or dance ensemble, or person who belongs to the societies of “Chokhosani”. The “Chokhosani” wear the chokha and adhere to a certain, patriotic code of conduct and ideology. In the Russian language, a chokha is called ‘cherkeska’.
According to the free encyclopedia there are three kinds of chokha: Khevsuruli, Kartl-Kachetian and General Caucasian.
The Khevsuruli chokha was worn in the Khevsureti province of Georgia in the Greater Caucasus Mountains. Khevsuruli chokha is considered to be the closest to the medieval version of chokha. It is mostly short with trapezoid shapes. The front side of the chokha has rich decorations and cuts on the sides, which extend to the waist. The Khevsuruli chokha has rich decorations made up of crosses and icons.
The Kartl-Kakheti chokha is longer than the Khevsuruli chokha and has triangle-like shapes on the chest exposing the inner cloth called arkhalukhi. The bottom sides usually have cuts on the sides and it is usually worn without a belt. The Kartli-Kakheti chokha has long sleeves and mostly is black or dark red for men, and blue for women.
The general Caucasian chokha shares similarities with the Kartl-Kakheti version, with the exception of having bandoliers sewn horizontally across both sides of the chest. In most cases different decorations are used to fill the bullet spaces. This type of chokha has black leather belts decorated with silver pieces.
In 2006 the “All Georgian League of Knights in the Chokha” was founded. It welcomes members from just about any age; presently the youngest is the age of 2. This society is more than willing to accept foreign representatives who would like to try the Chokha on. The newcomer is to take an oath which was invented and blessed by his Holiness, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, Ilia II.
Georgian national garments have always been highly important to Georgians. The Georgian chokha describes the Georgian essence and spirit so well. Perhaps that is the reason behind President Saakashvili’s decision to order high-ranking Georgian officials working abroad to present themselves in national dress at official meetings. So, in the very center of Europe, in the 21st century, among the elegant ladies and gentlemen classic suits, you will be surprised to find strangely dressed men in white chokhas, sporting daggers around the waist. We Georgians do like to show off!
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