|Eternal flame”, Tbilisi Historical Museum presenting Georgian Jews’ culture and habit|
|May 16, 2008|
The exhibition was organized by the Georgian National Museum and several Jewish organizations.
Jewish Diaspora have a long history in Georgia; Jewish settlers can be traced right back to the 11th century in the Kingdom of Kartli. Lela Tsitsuashvili, curator of the exhibition, the two peoples have always been able to coexist peacefully, commenting that Georgian Jews are the “rarest exception” in that they have managed to integrate with each other’s cultures and “to adopt and synthesize with the local traditions.”
The month-long exhibition aims to display material that describes the culture and customs of Jews in Georgia. In a large hall in Tbilisi Historical Museum, there are nearly 140 canvases by self-taught Jewish artist Shalom Koboshvili and a well-known Georgian painter David Gvelesiany exhibited. The canvases portray different customs of the Jews, for example, the ceremony of taking the bride to the bath house, treatment by the bible of Breti and saying prayer in the synagogue.
The exhibition also includes a fascinating display of national costumes, amulets, and religious paraphernalia. These items were mostly collected in 1933-1936 during archeological digs, conducted in the regions of Georgia previously inhabited by Jews. They were kept in Georgian Jews Historic-Ethnographic Museum from 1933 to 1951. These findings formed the basis of the Georgian Jewish collection.
The Georgian Jewish Historic-Ethnographic Museum was founded in 1933 in an old synagogue, by scientists from Tbilisi and Leningrad with the support of Jewish society in Georgia. It was closed down in 1951, however, as it was considered too Zionistic. It was restored in 1992 by the government and the Association of Georgian Jewish Relations, but the old synagogue is in such a bad state of repair that the entire collection is now kept at the Georgian National Museum and the Kekelidze Institute of Manuscripts.
David Lortkifanidze, General Director of the Georgian National Museum, commented: “these works have been waiting for the daylight, many of the represented exhibits are now located in the depositories of the museum, but they won’t stay there long and I’m sure that this very day is one more step forward for creating an exhibition room where all these works and the life and culture of the Jewish in general will be suitably exhibited.”
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