Monument of Georgian architecture is asking for help
02/12/2010 13:48
Lia Akhaladze

One of the greatest examples of the XI century Georgian architecture - the Church of St. George of Ilori is asking for help. Recently "restoration works" were done to the church as a result of which instead of single-nave design we have received a nondescript building that has a Russian dome installed on it. According to words of XVIII century Georgian historian Vaskushti Bagrationi "Ilori Church is of St. George... The church is dome-less, small, rich and beautiful". Information about the Ilori Church can be seen in works of Catholic missionaries, Jean Chardin, Marie Brosse, A. Pavlinov, D. Bakradze and others.

According to their description, the church was of a dome-less single-nave design that had annexes of various kinds on its northern, southern and western sides. In XX century architecture of the Ilori Church was studied by Abkhazian art historian A. Katsia who dedicated a dissertation and monograph to this issue. The works unequivocally stresses that the Ilori Church is a wonderful example of the XI century Georgian architecture.

As a result of "restoration works" carried out by Russia six Georgian lapidary inscriptions on the facades of the church were erased and plastered. One of them was erased back in XX century although in the eighties of XX century some traces were still left of the inscription. The mentioned inscriptions mentioned religious and civilian patrons, those that built the church such as local feudal Giorgi Gugenisdze, Archbishop Giorgi, priest Giorgi Kocholava, builders Giorgi and Mikael, local worshipers etc. The mentioned epigraphic materials and historical sources confirm that the Ilori Church was one of the most important places of worship in Georgia of middle ages.

In the XVII century patron of the church Levan II Dadiani (1611-1657) initiated its restoration and modification. Unfortunately, in 1736 the Ilori Church was burnt by Ottoman Turks. Presumably, it was then when a large part of frescoes were destroyed. The Church was eventually restored again by princes of Odishi in the XIX century. Today, as a result of Russian "restoration" interior of the church has been damaged, those parts of frescoes that were still left there have been erased and plastered.

Results of the Russian "rstoration":

1. Altered monument of Georgian architecture – instead of single-nave building it became a building of nondescript style that has a Russian dome installed on it (a building of such style is not known in the history of culture).
2. Georgian inscriptions that give very important information about the history of the Ilori Church, about patrons of the church, about builders and worshipers. It specifies identity of local feudal, clergy and worshipers. All three stages of Georgian script –Asomtavruli, Nuskha-Khutsuri and Mkhedruli are expressed in these inscriptions.
3. That small part of frescoes that were still left on the inner walls of the church is erased and plastered.

As a result we have a distorted Georgian church that is yet another victim of Russian vandalism in Georgia. This fact confirms a barbaric nature of the Russian authorities.


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