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Diary of the IRCTP’s Expedition to Inegöl District (Bursa province, Turkey)

3 August, 2015. Istambul

Istanbul on the Bosphorus is alight with gold-en colour. Here East and West intersect as naturally, as the seagull joins water and sky above the strait.

Our Turkish colleague Abdullah Akat is lead-ing us in the city tour. We are heading to Kadıköy, where Iberya Özkan Melaşvili is waiting for us at the House of Georgian Culture. As soon as one steps on the porch, he finds himself in Georgia. The Georgians from Istanbul gather here to study their mother tongue and songs.

4 August, 2015. Inegöl

We are four members in our expedition: Ab-dullah Akat – Head of the Musicology Department of Trabzon State Conservatory, who has studied Black Sea culture for years; Iberya Özkan Melaşvili the son of Ahmed and successor of his traditions; and us Nino Razmadze and Baia Zhuzhunadze from the IRCTP of Tbilisi State Conservatoire. This is our Center’s first expedition in Turkey, a joint (Turkish-Georgian) expe-dition.

Majority of the population in Inegöl city, are ethnic Georgians. There are 21 Georgian villages in Inegöl District, the population has moved here from Machakhela, Chakvi, Shuakhevi, Khulo and Meskheti.

Three generations of Georgians have gathered to meet us at the Society of Caucasian Folklore and Culture. Anyone from their motherland is welcome here with particular love. We start recording instrumental pieces: Khorumi, Qolsarma, Qolsarmas gadaktseuli, Abazurai, Cherkezuli, etc. played on accordion (referred to as muziqa by the locals).

They are upset about the loss of chiboni; in-strumental pieces for chiboni are performed on accor-dion.

6 August, 2015. Inegöl

Yesterday we visited the villages of Sulhiye and Tupekchikonak. We were accompanied by 77-year-old Suat Aktekin from Didachara, he is known as a connoisseur and keeper of Georgian traditions in Inegöl District. Young generation has studied many songs and instrumental pieces from him. At the gathering in his garden later, in the evening, there were all for whom Georgian song and dance is an inseparable part of their life, many young people among them. For us they sang bass part from the song “Dedoplis simghera”. Proceed-ing from the fact that “mqivani part used to be sung on-ly by distinguished singer”, they remembered only its fragments and could not sing it properly. We also rec-orded “Nardanina”, “Vin mogitana”, “Tirni horerama”, “Tetro mamalo”. They were displeased for having for-gotten the songs and not being able to sing together. But polyphonic thinking has survived in their conscious-ness.

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After the recording sessions we let them listen to the archival recordings made by Peter Gold and Ah-med Melashvili. Listening to the ancestors’ recordings always makes strong impression on people, often they are not successors of this tradition. But in this particular case, young people below 30 recognized all songs and instrumental pieces; this old repertoire is the means of relation to their motherland.

7 August. Village of Hairiye

I will never forget my emotions at seeing the road-sign with the name Hayriye. All expedition mem-bers immediately cheered up. We congratulated each other for having come here. We had heard so much about this village from Guram Pataraia’s film, Peter Gold’s recordings; and there we go! We will remember this happy instant all our lives.

New Hayriye looks like a European village, with beautiful houses, neat yards, our car stops at the tea house in the village centre. Iberia is welcome with love and respect in his mother’s native village. “Are you chveneburebi?” This question holds entire motherland.

We are heading to visit families of the performers rec-orded by Peter Gold and Ahmed Melashvili. People still sing in these families. They still vividly remember Peter Gold’s visit and recording sessions 47 years ago; then children now already grandfathers remind each other of the details of the recording sessions.

In Ali Osman Gultekin’s family the women performed “Nardanina” with dancing for us. We also found Vesile Khinkiladze, Mrs. Vesile (73) who then sang “Dirge over sister” has professional attitude to the recording process, we do not have to beg her. “When my family was alive performing a dirge was not so dif-ficult for me” – she says, but sings several variants for recording. Then she tells her own verses, she even wrote a play in her youth, which was staged at the vil-lage theatre.

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11 August. Village of Hairiye

Once again we made sure that nothing is acci-dental in this world. Yesterday we accidentally met Shenol Shener in one of the tea houses in Inegöl. In the evening he came to the recording session and sang wife’s mourning over husband and offered to accom-pany us to the Tumer family in Hayriye the following day.

Since the day of arrival in Hayriye we have been looking for the performer of “Vin mogitana”, when listening to the recording no one could remember the small boy, after long discussion it was concluded that presumably he had passed away.

We stopped the car near the tea house. All vil-lage was waiting for us, at seeing Shenol, Basri Idimir exclaimed: “This is the boy we are looking for”. Mr. Shenol listened to the recordings but he did not say that it was him in the recording and did not sing “Vin mogi-tana” either. If he had not come with us here today, we would never have heard this. He sang the song for us and told us about its performance form.

Mr. Shener is the discovery of our expedition!

14 August, Istanbul

This is first time that I am returning home with impressions and nostalgia. “Where is another Georgia?” It is here, with this people, in their speech songs and dances. Having come here 145 years ago, they still live with love to their native land.

A man can change history, stop the instant. Had it not been the providence of Ahmed Melashvili’s son, these songs would not have been so vividly pre-served.

The people of our profession are “archivists of the past”. We spend our lives seeking for and archiving all what can possibly be buried in oblivion.

But this is not the case in Inegöl and Hayriye. Young generation here, is well-aware of the value of the past, and will not lose a grain with the flow of time.

 

Baia Zhuzhunadze, Ethnomusicologist



Expedition of the IRCTP in Pankisi Proceeding from the demands of today’s ethnomusicology, it is impossible to research Georgian folk music without the consideration and study of neighbouring, particularly Caucasian cultures. Tbilisi State Conservatoire always had a close contact with northern Caucasus republics, especially in terms of the training of staff for them, although Georgia-Caucassian musical relationships were consistently researched only by few Georgian scientists (N. Maisuradze, M. Silakadze).

Development of research in that direction is one of the priorities of the Tbilisi State Conservatoire. This is why, on 3-16 August, 2013 The Research Center organized ethnomusicological expedition in Pankisi Gorge with the support of the Georgian Ministry of Culture and Monuments Protection.

The members of the expedition group were: Ketevan Baiashvili – the Center’s specialist, head of the expedition, Nino Razmadze – the Center’s specialist; Ilia Jgharkava – sound engineer; Giorgi Khutsishvili – cameraman and driver;

Expedition visited villages: Duisi, Jokolo, Omalo, Birkiani, Dumasturi, Kvareltskali, Dedispheruli, Qorety.

The Chechens – today’s inhabitants of the Pankisi Gorge together with the Ingush are called Vainakh (Nokhch in their mother tongue). Vainakh meaning “our people” in Chechen language. With this ethnonym they distinguish themselves from other Caucasian peoples. Both the Chechen and Ingush are autochthonous population in the Caucasus. Their mother tongue belongs to the Nakh group of the North Cucasian family of languages.

The Vainakhs first settled in Georgia in the 3rd century A.D. in the times of King Saurmag, the son of King Parnavaz. The Chechens (Kists-in Georgian) first settled in the Pankisi Gorge in the 18th -19th centuries.

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Most of the migrant Chechens were the followers of “mountain religion” (synthesis of pagan and Christian beliefs). In 1886 many of them converted to Christianity thanks to the efforts of the Christian missionary society. Later this population accepted Islam parallel to 13 Christianity. According to Anania Japaridze (2012) this process lasted until the 1990s.

Today the Kists are the followers of Sunni Islam, from the last decade of the 20th century Vahabism (a sect of Islam) gained foothold in Pankisi, young generation rebukes the old for the lack of the knowledge of Arabic language and Koran.

As for Kist identity, in families they speak mother tongue. At school they get education in Georgian, and so everyone speaks Georgian. As ethnologist Valerain Itonishvili says they are bilingual people. The scholar mentions that the tradition of polygamy is weakened here; however the expedition materials have documented the complaints of several women against polygamy. As the followers of Islam they do not consume alcohol, middle-aged and elederly women smoke tobacco, but men smoke marijuana. Many families have moved to Grozni in search of work, but they maintain connection with the villages and the Gorge. They glorify their ancestors, interred in the Pankisi Gorge. In general the Kists are hospitable and benevolent people. They rear their children in the spirit of bravery and intrepidity. Enjoy horseriding. Horse is identified with their national identity. Neighboring villages are settled by Osetians, Acharians, Tsova-Tushetians and Phshavians. Generally they have well-intentioned relations among them.

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As for musical life of Qists, they definitely belong to the family of carriers of the vocal polyphonic culture. Instrumental music is obviously in the shadow. Unfortunately the expedition was unable to find their traditional shaker instruments “Phkhatsich” or “Dechik phondur”. People still have the memory of those instruments, but even physically they could not be find not in a single family. As everywhere, Doli and Garmoni are common here too. The expedition recorded 1, 2, and 3 voiced songs. The type of polyphony here is mainly Burdonic. Very interesting forms are noticeable in their liturgical Ziqrs, research of which will show many interesting layers.

As it is menwioned, Pankisi gorge was settled by Osetians, Acharians, Tsova-Tushetians and Phshavians, along Chechens. Expedition got also interested in the topics of the musical integration, diffusion and assimilation and actiondistribution processes of conservation and innovations, among groups with differing ethnic origins.

Thus, it was very important to record musical examples of related branches. Also collected was oral (verses, stories, legends), historical, chorographical, ethnologic, religious material, as well as the examples of domestic, hunting, secular and sacred, mourning, work, magical, healing, pastoral and other genres at the possible extent. Also recorded were the unknown examples sung in the mill, for frightening evil spirits, sung by the women going to the forest, blessing of the men going to war, shepherd’s whistling without salamuri, at the end of Ramazan and mourning rituals.

Expedition has recorded 300 MGB of material, processing of which is currently underway at Tbilisi State Conservatoire International Research Center for Traditional Polyphony. Presentation of the expedition materials was held in the foyer of the Grand Hall of Tbilisi State Conservatoire on 16 October, 2013.



In December, 2003, the International Research Center for Traditional Polyphony at Tbilisi State Conservatoire organized a field expedition to Dmanisi to settlements of Svans relocated to Lower Kartli in 1988 due to natural disaster.

Director of the expedition was Nato Zumbadze, PhD, assistant professor at Georgian Folk Music Department. Other members of the group were Music History Department students Otar Kapanadze, Nino Nadirashvili and Teona Rukhadze, and video technician Lasha Martashvili.

The last days of December were bleary in Dmanisi, but the hosts there were warm-hearted and welcoming.

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We recorded oral accounts from Zhivlen Chkhetiani (64), Nikoloz Pakeliani (70) and Guram Chkhvimiani (50) containing significant information about various surviving and forgotten rituals in Svaneti.

Dmanisians claim that, of the ancient rituals surviving in Svaneti, the most widely-celebrated is Lamproba (also called Limparia). This feast day is celebrated on the appropriate day aligning with the lunar calendar, as opposed to a fixed day of the calendar, and almost always falls in the middle of February. On the day before the feast day wooden torches are made for each man of the village. Before dawn all the men light their torches and take them to the Church of St. George, where they pray and sing the hymn to St. George, Jgragish. After this the ritual is continued outside around a fire, singing various hymns and performing round dances. Dmanisians believe that Lamproba has a more symbolic context today, and has lost its ancient function. They told us of a legend about the origin of the feast day. Georgian ethnographers and ethnomusicologists agree that this ritual originated in pagan times.

Vakhtang and Zhivlen Chkhetiani shared important information with us concerning the traditions of Mekvleoba (judging one’s luck for the coming year based on the first person to enter the house after the New Year’s arrival) and Khelis Gakhsna, and rituals dedicated to weather deities Ga and Elia (originally a pagan deity, now transformed to signify the Christian prophet Elijah). They also told us at length about Lipanali, the ritual cycle for honoring the souls of the dead. As they tell us, there was a women’s ritual in Svaneti called Barboli (Barbali), a children’s game called bombgha, and a theatrical ritual called Ughlashoba. They mentioned that the round dances Mirmikela, Jangulashi and Shgarida have been lost today.

Misha Tsindeliani (58) played melodies on the chuniri for us: Mirangula, Lazhghvash, Vitsbil-Matsbil, etc. He also described the tradition of making the chuniri and changi, how they should be maintained, and legends of their origins.

We also recorded Natela Gvarniani (79), recalling prayers to heal children afflicted with infectious disease, Mariam Kordzaia (64) and Maiso Subeliani (38), singing Akvnis Nanebi (lullabies) and other songs.

We recorded the ensemble Shgarida performing ancient hymns and songs restored by director Gurgen Gurchiani. Between 1985-1998, Gurchiani traveled throughout Svaneti, recording separate voice parts for Svan hymns as sung by singers of advanced age such as Gierg Pirtskhelani, Maksime Gvarliani, Uka and Sepe Vezdeni. Using these recordings, he was able to reconstruct many of the hymns.

In January, 2004, the ensemble Shgarida performed a solo concert at the Grand Hall of the Tbilisi Conservatoire, in which they performed the restored hymns O Krisdeshi, Tskhau Krisdeshi, Qaiosuma, Ga, Zashinava, and others.

Friendship between the Dmanisi Svans and the fieldwork team members continues to this day.



As part of UNESCO program, the International Research Center for Traditional Polyphony together with the International Centre for Georgian Folk Song organized a field expedition to Ozurgeti from April 26-30, 2004. Participants included researchers from the Conservatoire Tinatin Zhvania, Ketevan Matiashvili, Nino Kalandadze, Lela Makarashvili, and students Mikheil Javakhishvili, Nino Nadirashvili and Nino Nikoleishvili.

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Gurian musical dialect has always received much attention in the Georgian Folk Music Department. In 1949, Vladimer Akhobadze (1918-1971) recorded eleven ancient Gurian church hymns performed by famous Gurian singers and chanters Artem Erkomaishvili, Varlam Simonishvili and Dimitri Patarava. In 1959, Kakhi Rosebashvili (1930-1988) recorded melodies played on the ancient Georgian panpipes called soinari in Guria, and the Gurian work song Qanuri in the Chokhatauri district. In 1960, Akhobadze recorded 30 songs in Guria’s Lanchkhuti district, 15 in Chokhatauri and 50 in Ozurgeti, most of which were work songs. In 1963, Grigol Chkhikvadze (1900-1986) recorded 25 songs in the village of Likhauri, Ozurgeti district. In 1964, Otar Chijavadze (1919-1998) recorded 80 songs in Lanchkhuti, 23 in Chokhatauri, and in 1965, 80 songs in Chokhatauri. In 1965, Artem Erkomaishvili was brought to Tbilisi from Makvaneti to restore ancient Gurian hymns. He was an unparalleled expert of ancient Gurian church chant and an eminent song-master. The Conservatoire recorded Erkomaishvili singing individual voice parts for 105 church songs. In the 1970s, Mindia Zhordania (1929-1978) and Kukuri Chokhonelidze (1940-2004) made several field expeditions to Guria and Achara (Kobuleti and Batumi) to record Gurian folk songs. In 1990, Edisher Garaqanidze (1957-1998) led a field expedition to Chokhatauri together with German ethnomusicologist Susanne Ziegler.

The purpose of our expedition to the village of Likhauri was to visit Karlo Urushadze (77), one of the greatest experts on the Gurian singing tradition. We especially hoped to record Gurian repertoire for chonguri. We made recordings of four different tunings for the chonguri .

We arranged a meeting of three great Gurian singers: Karlo Urushadze, Guri Sikharulidze (73) and Valerian Berishvili (87). Despite the fact that they were singing together for the first time, they were able to perform many old songs, including Chven Mshvidoba, Me Rustveli, Kalos Khelkhvavi, Mravalzhamieri, Patara Saqvarelo, Tsamokruli and Shavi Shashvi.

We made copies of materials from the sound, photo and video archives of the local museums in Ozurgeti and Chokhatauri. This material pertains to old singers and chanters in Guria.



As part of UNESCO program, the International Research Center for Traditional Polyphony organized a field expedition to Lentekhi and Tsageri from July 16 – August 4, 2004. Participants were Malkhaz Erkvanidze and Ketevan Matiashvili, faculty at the Consertvatoire’s Georgian Folk Music Department. During the expedition we visited Lentekhi’s villages of Kakhura, Tekali, Khopuri, Tsana and Kheledi.

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On the first day of the expedition, we recorded about ten songs with chuniri accompaniment performed by Lentekhi resident Eter (Shura) Liparteliani (62).

The men’s ensemble Mizhe Nari (Sunlight) is comprised of residents from the Choluri area. The ensemble was created in the 1990s and its members are Vaso Babluani, Vakhtang Mukbaniani, Valodia Babluani, Mamuka Mukbaniani, Gerasime Zurabiani and Davit Mukbaniani. Founder and director of the group is Jumber Mukbaniani (74) who was a member of the Lentekhi Song and Dance Ensemble in the 1960s when it was directed by Jokia Meshveliani, Honored Artist of Georgia. We met this group in the village of Tekali at the home of Jumber Mukbaniani. Despite the fact that his wife had died two years earlier and he had not sung since then, Jumber did not refuse to sing for us, stressing that the work we were doing was very important. We recorded seven songs from the ensemble and videotaped fragments of round dances. Significantly, young people and old alike perform in the ensemble, indicating that there is much interest in their local folklore.

Nana Zurabiani (34) recalled an incantation that her grandmother used to speak to protect livestock from wild animals. We also recorded several such incantations from Sara Shavrishiani (75).

In the village of Khopuri we met the family of Shota Kurasbediani (74). Here a group of four men gathered: Kurasbediani himeslf, Boris Gugava, Amiran and Gulad Liparteliani, all former members of Jokia Meshveliani’s ensemble. We recorded five of their songs. It is worth noting that the Lower Svan variants of Tsmindao Ghmerto and Alilo exist only in the Georgian Language.

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In the village of Kheledi, we visited the Kardava family. Shalva Kardava (83) and his wife, Magrapi Charkseliani barely managed to recall a couple of songs. Here we also met the head of the village, Jambul Gazdeliani (72), from whom we also made four recordings of songs and instrumentals for the chuniri, as he is a skilful chuniri player. He apologized that he couldn’t sing more, as he was still mourning the death of his mother.

In Lentekhi we visited Tsiala Gurabanidze, the widow of Jokia Meshveliani. She received us very graciously and gave us access to materials from the family archive.

We were fortunate to attend concerts at the Lentekhi House of Culture by performers from local ensembles existing throughout the region. The Lentekhi House of Culture is directed by Gela Gugava. Sadly, the performances we saw led us to believe that most of today’s performers in Lower Svaneti have lost connection with their traditions. Their repertoire was sparse, and all ensembles seemed to sing the same songs, many of which are of non-local origin (Georgian, as opposed to Svan) and accompanied by panduri.

Our expedition to Tsageri district took us to the regional center, the town of Tsageri, and to the village of Chkhuteli. We met the folk group based at the Tsageri House of Culture. The group is directed by Zaza Qurashvili, and its members include Tamaz Kopaliani, Sozar Bendeliani and Aleksandre Gogidze. They sang eight Lechkhumian songs for us, as well as several songs from other parts of Georgia.

We were very pleased to meet an ensemble of elderly men called Lechkhumi. This ensemble was established in 1974, and is directed by Rapiel Kopaliani (79). This group was originally called Salkhino when it was directed by Davit Kopaliani, Rapiel’s father. None of the original members of Salkhino are alive. Salkhino was recorded in 1967 by Grigol Chkhikvadze, professor at the Conservatoire.

The aim of the six-member ensemble Lechkhumi is to preserve local Lechkhumian songs, passing them to future generation. The members of the ensemble are Rapiel Kopaliani (79), Guja Chakvetadze (75), Grigol Bendeliani (74), Jumber Saghinadze (76), Vilgelm Kopaliani (68) and Otar Saghinadze (74). We recorded 32 Lechkhumian songs from the ensemble.

In the neighboring village of Chkhuteli, Shalva Kvirikashvili (68), Omar Akhvlediani (73), Jemal Tvaradze (63), Shalva Svanidze (72), Davit Svanidze (70) and Grigol Meshveliani (67) sang eight songs for us.

During the expedition we also made video copies of material recorded sometime in the 1970s. Included in this footage are performances by the Lentekhi Song and Dance Ensemble. There was also video footage of ensembles Mizhe Nari and Lechkhumi. This material will be preserved at the Conservatoire’s International Research Center for Traditional Polyphony.

We believe that our expedition was partly successful, and gave us an idea of what work could be done in these places in the future. The villages of Kheledi (which has been called Singers’ Village) and a few other villages disappointed us. Many people were not at home, away for the summer. This showed us that the summer is not the best time for such expeditions in Georgia. So much work takes place at this time of year that it is difficult to gather people for singing. In the village of Kakhura there is only one man who is known as a source of knowledge on local ancient traditions, and he was not at home. In Khopuri we were inhibited due to lack of transport, preventing us from recording women’s repertoire. In fact, we did not record any women’s songs during the expedition, which we consider most unfortunate. We did, however, record many names and addresses which should help us in future visits.

We had also wished to meet with Ushguli villagers, but due to transportation difficulties we were unable to go there. Instead, we went to the dedication of the new church in Tsana, one of the highest villages in Lentekhi. Villagers from Ushguli were supposed to be there as well, but for some reason they did not come.

The members of the expedition would like to thank all those who helped us throughout the course of our work: Besarion Liparteliani (student at the Tbilisi Theological Seminary), Gulad Liparteliani, Tamaz Kopaliani and Zaza Qurashvili. Special thanks to Father Ioseb (Niguriani), local priest of the Tsageri-Lentekhi Eparchy, without whose moral and practical guidance the expedition would not have been so successful.



In Tbilisi in March, 2003, I met a 72-year-old stviri (pipe) master named Elguja Mukhigulashvili. In September, 2004, I was able to travel to his village of Telatgori in the Kaspi district. In this brief expedition arranged by the International Research Center for Traditional Polyphony I was joined by Lela Makarashvili, staff member at the Conservatoire’s Georgian Folk Music Department, and Elguja Dadunashvili, staff member in the folklore department at the Shota Rustaveli Georgian Institute of Literature. Video materials from this expedition were edited by Giorgi Tsomaia.

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This expedition had a concrete goal: to record Elguja Mukhigulashvili describing the process of stviri-making, then record him actually making one, and then examples of melodies for the instrument. Besides this, we were able to collect various interesting oral ethnographic materials, folk arts, and examples of folk song and dance.

We knew about the stviri from the works of Ivane Javakhishvili, Kakhi Rosebashvili, Manana Shilakadze, Tinatin Zhvania and Ketevan Nikoladze. In 1998, Giorgi Michnigauri from the village of Akhalsopeli in Kartli prepared a similar instrument from stems of the sweetbrier ( rosa eglanteria) rose bush . As we know, in Guria and Samegrelo, wind instruments such as the larchemi-soinari panpipes are made from stems of phragmites communis trin (common reed), while in East Georgia they used the same material for making the salamuri.

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The stviri can also be made from dried stems of common reed. It is approximately 20-21 cm long, and 0.7-1cm in diameter. It has a tapered mouth-hole and six finger-holes. One performer may play two of these stviris at the same time, as with the sweetbrier stviri. The player blows the main stviri, which has finger-holes, at the same time playing a shorter, tongued stviri, which has no finger-holes. In this case, a simple drone-based polyphonic melody is produced.

Elguja Mukhigulashvili learned to play the stviri in his youth from a shepherd from the neighboring village of Lavriskhevi. Today he makes these instruments for children and for sale. He sometimes blows the stviri as a signal. He also plays traditional Georgian wrestling, dance, and other melodies. Children use his stviris as whistles during football and other games.

Material collected during the expedition amounts to 40 minutes of audio and video. Elguja Dadunashvili assembled and presented fragments of this material for a presentation of the project results arranged by Georgian and German researchers at the Goethe Institute. He also presented fragments during discussion of the creation of an information database at the Second Symposium on Traditional Polyphony.

Hardly any research has been done on Children’s musical instruments by Georgian ethnomusicologists or organologists. Both, the simple design and everyday function of these instruments are very important and worthy of study to help determine the genesis of instrumental music.



In Tbilisi in March, 2003, I met a 72-year-old stviri (pipe) master named Elguja Mukhigulashvili. In September, 2004, I was able to travel to his village of Telatgori in the Kaspi district. In this brief expedition arranged by the International Research Center for Traditional Polyphony I was joined by Lela Makarashvili, staff member at the Conservatoire’s Georgian Folk Music Department, and Elguja Dadunashvili, staff member in the folklore department at the Shota Rustaveli Georgian Institute of Literature. Video materials from this expedition were edited by Giorgi Tsomaia.

zemo alvani

This expedition had a concrete goal: to record Elguja Mukhigulashvili describing the process of stviri-making, then record him actually making one, and then examples of melodies for the instrument. Besides this, we were able to collect various interesting oral ethnographic materials, folk arts, and examples of folk song and dance.

We knew about the stviri from the works of Ivane Javakhishvili, Kakhi Rosebashvili, Manana Shilakadze, Tinatin Zhvania and Ketevan Nikoladze. In 1998, Giorgi Michnigauri from the village of Akhalsopeli in Kartli prepared a similar instrument from stems of the sweetbrier ( rosa eglanteria) rose bush . As we know, in Guria and Samegrelo, wind instruments such as the larchemi-soinari panpipes are made from stems of phragmites communis trin (common reed), while in East Georgia they used the same material for making the salamuri.

zemo alvani 2

The stviri can also be made from dried stems of common reed. It is approximately 20-21 cm long, and 0.7-1cm in diameter. It has a tapered mouth-hole and six finger-holes. One performer may play two of these stviris at the same time, as with the sweetbrier stviri. The player blows the main stviri, which has finger-holes, at the same time playing a shorter, tongued stviri, which has no finger-holes. In this case, a simple drone-based polyphonic melody is produced.

Elguja Mukhigulashvili learned to play the stviri in his youth from a shepherd from the neighboring village of Lavriskhevi. Today he makes these instruments for children and for sale. He sometimes blows the stviri as a signal. He also plays traditional Georgian wrestling, dance, and other melodies. Children use his stviris as whistles during football and other games.

Material collected during the expedition amounts to 40 minutes of audio and video. Elguja Dadunashvili assembled and presented fragments of this material for a presentation of the project results arranged by Georgian and German researchers at the Goethe Institute. He also presented fragments during discussion of the creation of an information database at the Second Symposium on Traditional Polyphony.

Hardly any research has been done on Children’s musical instruments by Georgian ethnomusicologists or organologists. Both, the simple design and everyday function of these instruments are very important and worthy of study to help determine the genesis of instrumental music.



In August-September 2005, the International Research Center for Traditional Polyphony organized a musicological field expedition to Khelvachauri District in Achara. This was done as part of the UNESCO pro gram. Director of the expedition was Nato Zumbadze, Ph.D. at the Georgian Folk Music Department. Other members of the group were laboratory assistant Otar Kapanadze, students Teona Rukhadze and Salome Tsetskhladze, and video technician Lasha Martashvili.

The aim of the expedition was documentation of the musical examples surviving in the villages of Khelvachauri district. During two weeks we visited about ten villages and recorded a large amount of both musical and verbal material on 7 minidisks, 150 minutes each; we also took about 300 photos and several video clips.

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In 1989 a field expedition was organized by Edisher Garaqanidze, Nato Zumbadze and Ketevan Baiashvili, researchers from Tbilisi State Conservatoire. At that time they visited various districts of Achara, including Machakhela Gorge. During the current visit we found out that the natives still remembered the participants of the earlier expedition. The traditionally hospitable Acharans received us with exceptional warmth and did their best to help us when needed.

First we visited the village of Zemo Chkhutuneti, in Machakhela Gorge, and spent several pleasant days there. We recorded several Acharan folk songs (including NaduriMaqruliOsaNaiNai and Nanina), instrumental melodies and a few examples of town-style songs. These were performed by wonderful old singers Khusein (Valiko) Kobuladze, Zakro Perselidze and Suleiman (Iago) Nagervadze. Thanks to the digital camera we managed to film the virtuoso dance of 82-year-old Valiko Kobuladze. There is hardly anyone who knows the oldest Acharan dance moves. Vladimer Arjevanidze from the village of Kedkedi came to the village of Zemo Chkhutuneti to help his neighbours with several songs, and played some instrumental pieces on the panduri for us as well.  In Zemo Chkhutuneti, together with musical examples, we recorded significant information on the names of voices, form of performance, origin of songs, traditional repertoire and various rituals.

We also visited the neighbouring villages of Kvemo Chkhutuneti and Chikuneti. We found little of musical interest in Kvemo Chkhutuneti, but collected plenty of verbal information including incantations. Here we met Haidar Kakhidze, who told us many interesting stories about Acharan songs, dances, instruments, and, in general, about various traditions common in Machakhela Gorge.

From the material recorded in the village of Chikuneti, of particular interest are the instrumental pieces performed by 91-year-old Akhmed Gabrushidze on the garmoni (accordion). On behalf of our expedition, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to Shota Kirkitadze, who was our instructor in Chikuneti and performed  a number of instrumental pieces for us.

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We recorded mostly instrumental melodies and monophonic songs in the villages of Kirnati and Maradidi. Shakro Kakhaberidze from Kirnati played old variants of Khorumi and Gandagana, and several song melodies on the duduki.  Noteworthy are women’s songs GelinoNai-NaiShairebi and instrumental pieces for panduri recorded in  Maradidi.

We have warm memories of our visit to Kamil Kakhidze in the village of Kobaleti. Apart from being a very good performer, Kamil is a witty man; he “presented” us with impromptu comic verses written about each member of our expedition. From him we recorded melodies played on salamuriduduki and klarneti (clarinet). We also sang several songs together with Kamil.

In the village of Urekhi we met Zurab Varshanidze, a garmoni master. His instruments are indeed distinguished by their magnificent sound. We recorded Zurab’s and his brother’s virtuoso performance of dance melodies.

Our meeting with the Khoroishvili family in the village of Zemo Jocho was interesting. Of particular mention are Acharan instrumental melodies that the father of the family Vakhtang Khoroishvili played on kemencha (Turkish bowed instrument), as only a few Acharan kemencha pieces have ever been recorded.

To our regret, for various reasons, we could not manage to visit several performers, including the group of singers in the village of Tkhilnari, and a young chiboni player who, according to the natives, is the only one in the whole district. We could not find anyone who would play instrumental pieces on chonguri, or sing Acharan lullabies. This indicates once again, that traditional art is being forgotten in this district, as well as in many other parts of Georgia. But, it is important to mention that elderly singers from Machakhela Gorge are willing to create a folk ensemble in their region. This will help many songs survive from disappearance.

In closing, I would make a special mention of people’s hospitality in Achara; this is something rarely found anywhere. The expedition members made good friends with local performers and hosts. On behalf on the expedition I would like to express our deepest gratitude to the Khelvachauri local government administration, and especially to Iakob Abashidze; it would have been very difficult for us to carry out our work without his help. We are very grateful to all our hosts for their cordial welcome and assiduous guidance.



As part of UNESCO program, the International Research Center for Traditional Polyphony carried out a field expedition in Sagarejo district on August 17-30, 2005. The participants were Nino Makharadze and Lela Makarashvili, faculty at the Conservatoire’s Georgian Folk Music Department.

The majority of the material recorded on this expedition includes instrumental pieces played on panduri in the style of East Georgian mountain repertoire (such as Stirian Tushis Kalebi, Mtashi Salamurs Vakvneseb, Vazhkatso Mtashi Gazrdilo, Shirakshi Ertma Metskhvarem, Shatilis Asulo, etc.), variants of Kakhetian shairebi (humorous songs), dance melodies (KakhuriLekuri and Osuri) and popular Acharan melodies.

Verbal material, collected together with folk examples, testify that the traditional rituals are performed here in the same way as elsewhere in Kakheti. These rituals include those for healing children’s acute contagious diseases (such as mumps, measles, scarlet fever, chicken pox, whooping cough, etc), other rituals including EliaobaAliloDidebaBerikaoba, and the weather ritual of plowing water with a plow.

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In the village of Tokhliauri we recorded lamentation with verbal text during a funeral. We collected the examples of song and instrumental music, description of various rituals, information on farming activities from senior citizens Nikoloz Kupatadze, Tamar Mekaluashvili, Aleksi Matiashvili and Zhuzhuna Shioshvili. Lamzira Zakaidze, the director of the local house of culture, leads a women’s ensemble and makes every effort to encourage youngsters to sing. Her group sang a few songs for us, including town songs with guitar accompaniment.

We recorded a few songs with panduri accompaniment from Neli Bugechashvili, whose family is originally from Pshavi. She also told us about the religious holiday LasharisMtavarangelozobis Khatoba and about some wedding rituals in Ukana Pshavi. We filmed children’s games in the same village.

Our meeting with an elderly couple Tamar Natsvlishvili, born in 1926, and Nikoloz Tatarashvili, born in 1925, was unforgettable. The husband and wife have restored the local church with their own means, and are taking care of it. From them we recorded blessings, toasts, salamuri tunes, dance melodies and an Iavnana melody played on panduri.

We learned, that on the 3rd and 4th Sundays after Easter, the festival of Kalobnoba is held at the St. George and Virgin Mary churches near the village of Tokhliauri. Many people come here from the neighbouring villages too. The banquets on these days are accompanied by wrestling, horse racing, dancing and various games. The villagers have their summer pastures on the Mount Tsivi. According to Nikoloz Kupatadze local shepherds still make their salamuri from the black elder tree. Sadly, on this visit we did not meet any of the shepherds.

We also visited the villages of Ninotsminda, Giorgitsminda, Manavi, Kakabeti and Udabno.

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Thanks to Maia Aleksishvili, director of the Ninotsminda house of culture, we managed to meet local panduri players Vasil Rochikashvili and Shalva Akhverdashvili. They gladly accepted our request and played humorous songs and dance melodies for us. Kalia Rostomashvili, famous local singer, agreed only to tell incantations, as she was in deep mourning. In the hospitable family of Nadia Ivaniashvili, we recorded the song-lamentation sung by Eliko Gogaladze-Rostomashvili, born in 1941. The song is dedicated to the soldiers who fought and died in Abkhazia.

In the village of Kakabeti we met Ushangi Masurashvili (78) and Mikheil Galustovi (76). These elderly people used to sing in the well-known choirs of Mikha Jighauri and Vano Mchedlishvili. Together with well-known songs, such as Berikatsi VarTsintsqaroChonguroOrovelaIavnanaHerio and Garekakhuri Sachidao, we recorded fragments of Kakaburi Mushuri and Alilo, dance melodies, humorous songs, Soviet and town songs performed by them. At the initiative of Niko Gigoshvili, director of the local house of culture Ushangi, who is a chonguri master too, teaches traditional folk songs to his grandchildren and other young people. Niko has a small collection of musical instruments and a very interesting photo, audio and video archive. Dariko Mirziashvili, a wonderful panduri player, directs children’s and women’s ensembles in the village.

The festival of Berikaoba is held annually in the village of Chailuri. We think that this event should be filmed soon. For the next expedition we are planning to visit elderly singers and poetic storytellers, settlers from Pshavi, in the village of Kochbani.

Kako Peikrishvili form the village of Manavi is a member of the local instrumental ensemble which is often invited to weddings and funerals. He plays several instruments such as panduridoli and duduki. We recorded songs with panduri accompaniment from him including Shakara; variants of this song were very popular in many villages of this district and were documented by Joseph Jordania’s expedition in 1980.

In Manavi we also recorded Nadia Machuridze and Aniko Ekvtimishvili. The two ladies told us about the rules for the ritual of Eliaoba, sang the two-voiced variant of the healing song Iavnana and songs with panduri accompaniment. Ruizan Sonashvili, who is originally from Saingilo (formerly in Georgia, now Kakhi district of Azerbaijan) and is married to a local man, sang Ingiloian lullaby Dai Dai.

We think special attention should be paid to the folk traditions of the village of Udabno. This village was founded in 1984 and is inhabited by the families of migrants from various parts of Georgia including Svans, Rachans, Megrelians, Meskhetians, Ingiloians, etc. During this expedition we visited families from the village of Latali in Svaneti, and recorded ZariTsmindao GhmertoJgriagishBarbal Dolash (a variant form the village of Becho), Irinola-Marinola and VitsbilMatsbil as sung by Otar Parjiani, Gunter Pitskhelani, Mirza Ivechiani, Petre Nansqani and Rostom Girgvliani.

The families from Svaneti keep strong links with their home region high in the mountains. They always participate in all summer festivals in Svaneti and do their best to maintain their ancient traditions in Udabno. They are often asked to sing Zari at the funerals regardless the original district of the mourning family. The future changes going on in their musical folklore should be observed.

On 28 August, on Mariamoba (St. Mary’s Day) we attended the church service at Dodo Garejeli church in Sagarejo, and had very interesting conversation with chanters at Dormition of Mary church.

We took a number of photos of panduris (mostly called chonguri by the locals) made of various materials such as acacia, mulberry and pear wood.

We would like to thank Tinatin Mezvrishvili, director of Sagarejo House of Culture, and all those who assisted and supported us in our work.



A field expedition to the town of Akhaltsikhe and three villages in Meskheti-Javakheti was organized on 16-30 July, 2005, as part of the UNESCO program. The expedition included Tinatin Zhvania and Ketevan Matiashvili from the IRCTP, and Conservatoire students Nana Gogoladze, Baia Zhuzhunadze and Nino Naneishvili.

There had been no musical examples from Meskheti-Javakheti among the expedition recordings preserved at Georgian Folk Music Department. The material recorded in this province of Georgia by Shalva Mshvelidze’s expedition in the early 1930s, which has recently been transferred to digital media under the IRCTP project, will significantly enrich our knowledge of the musical folklore of this region. No less valuable is the material obtained by our expedition – 9 mini disks (150 minutes each) and 1056 photos.

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Mshvelidze’s expedition was the first to Meskheti-Javakheti; the second expedition was led by Grigol Chkhikvadze in 1949. The intensive expeditional work performed by composer Valerian Maghradze is also noteworthy.

For better understanding the musical and ethnical picture of this part of Georgia, we find it appropriate to say few words about some facts from the past.

Historically the territory of Meskheti-Javakheti was the South-West part of the Kingdom of Iberia. It was an inseparable part of the province of Kartli. Its population were ethnic Georgians; they spoke Georgian language and did not differ from the population of Shida Kartli and Kvemo Kartli in their anthropological type, everyday life and traditions.

Political, social, religious and ethnic upheavals have changed this region much since the 13th century. After Turkish and Persian invasions the process of conversion of local Christian-Orthodox population into Islam accelerated. This resulted in mass exodus of native population from here to other parts of the country. At this time Turk-Selchuks and Armenians started to take up their residence on Georgian lands. In time the congregations of Catholic and Armenian-Gregorian churches started to enlarge at the expense of the locals. Nevertheless, a small part of the Georgian population managed to maintain their links with Orthodox traditions.

At the beginning of the 19th century 100,000 Armenian refugees were resettled from Erzerum; they were followed by Kurds, Greeks, Dukhobors, etc.

In 1944 Turkish-speaking population, the so-called “Turkish Meskhetians”, was exiled from Meskheti-Javakheti. From this time on, Georgians from various parts of the country (Imereti, Achara, Svaneti, etc.) moved here and found their home.

In 1960 Grigol Chkhikvadze wrote: “Both expeditions (Mshvelidze’s in the early 1930s and Chkhikvadze’s in 1949) carried out very fruitful work. They did not collect much, but what they did, was truly precious. The character and content of the collected material, though poor, makes us believe that more careful study will allow us to find significant examples that are linked to the centuries-old life of our people . . . ” (G. Chkhikvadze, “Georgian Folk Song”, 1960, pp. 21-22).

The same can be said today. Based on the information, obtained from 46 ethnic sources, it can be concluded that true Meskhetian folk art has barely survived. Instead, you can often hear both young and elderly people sing the town songs from East Georgian town folklore such as Saiatnouri, Baiati, Ietim Gurji and others.

In Akhaltsikhe we met the leading expert on Meskhetian musical traditions, now deceased, Shota Altunashvili. He taught many already forgotten Meskhetian songs to many people. The repertoire of his ensemble Meskheti included many Meskhetian songs arranged for three voices. As Altunashvili told us, people had sung those songs in one voice. Among the one-voiced  examples we recorded from him were Otkhi Tsqaro Sdis, Mravalzhamier, Gegutisa Mindorzeda, Vardzioba-Dziobasa, etc.

We sorted out the expedition material according to the parameters characteristic solely for this region. One of these is collection of all type of information connected with the tradition of multi-voiced singing, which is considered to be lost in Meskhetian life.  The most noteworthy statements connected with this are mostly about the function of bass voice part, such as Banze Adevneba (i.e. tuning low voice to the melody, etc).

When talking about the ensemble of instruments popular in Meskheti-Javakheti in the past, Zurab Ivanidze (81) from the village of Atsqvita said that the instrument chichila (also called mei) was used for bass, or when 3-4 tulumis – Meskhetian name for gudastviri (bagpipe) – were played together, one of them would be in the function of low voice.

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The most important findings of the expedition are the examples, once very characteristic for local musical life, such as Orovela that we recorded from Giorgi Jinchveladze (97) in the village of Muskhi. It should be mentioned that this song is similar to Kartli-Kakhetian songs with the same name in its mode-intonation and composition.

As for the other, it is once very popular dance performed with dancing and singing with glossolalias Dam Dalili Dillilo . . . We must say that like Orovela, this song is also fairly close to Kartli-Kakhetian dance melodies. We recorded a very original three-voiced variant of this example from Mito Taturashvili (63) in the village of Khizabavra with accordion accompaniment; he played middle voice and bass on the accordion.

Very precious information on old Meskhetian repertoire we obtained from Mariam Zhuzhunadze (73), a good connoisseur of Meskhetian traditions, in the village of Muskhi. We would separately mention the information about the form and tradition of performance of the Meskhetian round-dance song Okromchedelo. Mariam assiduously taught both the song and round dance to the members of the expedition.

The stviri, a one-piped wind instrument with finger-holes, has still been used in everyday life as the echo of old Meskhetian traditions. In all three villages there are people who make and play this instrument. We documented the rules for making stviri from Vazha Melikidze (63) and Vaso Ivanidze (65) in Muskhi, Giorgi Diasamidze (78) and Ilusha Ivanidze (78) in Atsqvita, and Mito Taturashvili in Khizabavra. In all these stories the rules, number of finger-holes, their places on the pipe and musical-intonational content are similar. This testifies to the fact that the old Meskhetian tradition of this instrument, which used to be an inseparable part of cattle-rearing, the main farming activities of this region.

Now about the most characteristic repertoire of Meskhetian musical life today: although today you will rarely hear the sound of zurnadudukidoli and garmoni , that once penetrated into Georgian villages from towns, but in Meskheti they are still used. In Atsqvita, for instance, almost every family has their “musicians”, who sing and play together at the wedding parties and other festive occasions. For some objective reasons, we were not able to bring them together. We managed to record Oleg Ivanidze (46) – a member of one of such ensembles. Together with his son and wife he sang modern-type songs from the so-called wedding repertoire, such as Ra Lamazi Khar Shen Tushis Kalo, Rotsa Shen Dalalebs Kari Shlis, Sichabuke Da Akhalgazrdoba, etc.

Special mention should be made of Mito Taturashvili from Khizabavra – a virtuoso instrumentalist from the circle of “wedding musicians”, who brilliantly plays dudukizurna, clarinet, various types of salamuripanduri and accordion.

As mentioned above, many people of various nationalities lived and still live in Meskheti. It is a well-known fact that local Georgians have always had friendly and neighbourly relations with them. More than 60 years have passed since the Turkish population left this region, but those who had good relations with them, still remember Turkish language and songs.

Particularly interesting in our opinion is the rule of reading fairy tales that we recorded from Aniko Zhuzhunadze (71) from Muskha and Zurab Ivanidze (81) from Atsqvita. Here Georgian and Turkish episodes take turns. Also interesting is that the verses to be narrated in Turkish, they sang in Turkish manner. It turned out that in the past these verses used to be accompanied by oriental stringed instrument saz.

As it is known, Akhaltsikhe is an international town. The respect between various nations towards each other is revealed in the ethics of instrumental ensembles as well. For instance, at wedding parties and other occasions the repertoire of Georgian and Armenian instrument players is represented with the characteristic examples of these two nations.

We were very much impressed by the trio of Armenian instrumentalists from Akhaltsikhe: Arsen Melikian (45) – dudukizurna and clarinet, Khachatur Akopian (45) – accordion, and Garegin Geian (71) – dairadoli and vocal. They performed the Armenian melodies Pepo, Mtvarian Ghames and Eghishis Tsekva, and a Georgian song with instrumental accompaniment, Tsiv Zamtarshi.

We believe that the field expedition of 2005 in Meskheti-Javakheti should be followed soon by intensive field work in this region, due to the fact that most folk musicians in this region are quite elderly. There is an urgent need to document these musical traditions before they disappear.