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Samples of Architectural Ceramics from the Churches of Shida Kartli

Tamar Khundadze
George Chubinashvili National Research Centre for Georgian Art History and Heritage Preservation

The presented paper is about the 8th -9th centuries' architectural ceramics samples with relief images that were discovered in the churches of Shida Kartli villages: Tsirkoli, Kabeni of Kanchaeti and Kurta-the territory occupied by Russia at present.
In Tsirkoli 8th century church these ceramic tiles were placed on the roof, as for Kabeni of Kanchaeti, the initial tiles from the 8th-9th centuries seem to have secondarily been used for the 8th century renovated church. As a kind of relics, they had been inserted in the walls of the church and became visible when the dome and the walls were damaged.
The majority of images in the repertoire of relief tiles from Shida Kartli churches are related to the themes from the Old Testament. Some of them are "Prophet Daniel in the den of lions", "The Sacrifice of Abraham" etc. The figures of infant Mary and the saints have also been discovered. These images reveal some stylistic features typical for the 8th-9th centuries' stone reliefs and alongside them, represent the epochal artistic appearance.
Relief compositions of the tiles from Shida Kartli churches reveal artistic tendencies and the thematic typical for early medieval Georgian fine arts, in general and stone reliefs, in particular.
Ceramic tiles from Shida Kartli, with their artistic and iconographical features, the material and function belong to the same group of rare samples of medieval art, as ceramic tiles discovered in the fortress church of Vinica Kale, Macedonia and in Tuzalka near Preslav, Bulgaria. Therefore, studying and presenting them is important not only for Georgian, but for Eastern Christian art in general.

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