The territory of modern Abkhazia like other historic regions of Georgia preserves rich historical and cultural legacy that survived whirl of centuries and till today is a symbol of cultural and historical unity of our country and its spiritual strength. Of historical regions of Georgia Abkhazia was a north-eastern gate of Georgia which constantly guarded Georgian statehood and spirituality. It was where a struggle started to unite the Georgian church which ultimately ended with unification of the Georgian state. Abkhazian kings Giorgi I (861-868), Konstantin III (893-922), Giorgi II (922-957), Leon III (957-967) and others made great contribution into this historical process. An idea of unification of Georgia belonged to feudal of Dali-Tsebelda Ioane Marushisdze (Marushiani) and it was successfully completed by Georgian kings and princes. Here on this land for centuries there have been centres of Georgian culture works of which left a deep trace in the spiritual life of our country. New manuscripts were written and old ones were restored, translations were made from Greek to Georgian and vice-versa in monasteries of Bedia, Lykhny, Ilori, Tsarche. A significant place in spiritual life of our country was occupied by the following churches: St. Nicholas Church of Khopa (Khuap), of Archangels Michael and Gabriel of Msigkhua, Churches of Dranda, Gagra, St. Simon the Kanaanite Church in New Athos, Chlou, St. George Church of Tskelikeli, Gumurishi, Gudava, Lashkendar, Miusera and Dikhazurga that are even today present on the territory of Georgia.
Many prominent Georgian state and church figures worked in Abkhazia. They were: Bagrat King of Abkhazians, Otago Shervashidze, Bedian archbishop Ioane, Giorgi Chkondideli, Svimeon Bediel-Alaverdeli, Daniel of Mokvi, Nikoloz, Sofron and Mikael Gonglibaidze, Giorgi Basiladze – owner of Anukhvi and surroundings, Bedian archbisops Anton Zhuanisdze and Germane Chkhetidze, Ekvtime Sakvarelidze, Nikipore Irubakidze-Cholokashvili, warden of Ilori church Giorgi Gurgenidze and so on. Their names were preserved by those cultural monuments that can be found on the territory of modern Abkhazia or were discovered there.
This historical region of Georgia gave impulse to many cultural initiative that later were developed in other regions of our homeland. Special place in the cultural legacy of Abkhazia is occupied by the Mokvi Testament that was created by Daniel Mokveli, Menology of Bedia that was restored through efforts of Anton Zhuanisdze, Testament of Bichvinta and other manuscripts.
This region gave wonderful examples of Georgian embossing art such as icons of St. Andrew the apostle, John the Baptist and St. Ekaterine, cups of Bedia and Ilori, wonderful examples of embossing that were made by order of Andria Sakvarelidze and Ekvtime Sakvarelidze, icons that were presented to St. George church of Ilori by princes of Mingrelia and so on.
Studies of material culture of Abkhazia began in XIX century by French scientist, researcher of Georgian culture and language Mari Broce. He dedicated one of his VIII report to monuments of material culture and epigraphic of Abkhazia. After Mari Broce many researchers touched this issue but their works are mainly reviewing and descriptive character as in this period cultural monuments of Abkhazia were registered for the first time in scientific literature. With this regard, especially important is travels of Russian Archeologist Countess P. Uvarova and A. Pavlinov in Abkhazia. The first Georgian scientist that gathered data about monuments of material culture of Abkhazia, mainly examples of church architecture was founder of the Georgian historiography Vakhushti Bagrationi. In the XIX century many studies were done in this direction by Dimitri Bakradze, Ekvtime Takaishvili, Tedo Zhirdania and others.
(To be continued)