COLOR OF LOVE, POETRY AND FABRIC
by Nanuka Kakabadze
Blue color means a lot to Georgians. Blue mountains, blue lakes, blue national clothes, blue line on the old flag of Georgia (1951). The group of first symbolist poets and prose-writers of 1920’s in Georgia were also “blue”. Well, not just blue. Actually they were referred to as Tsisperqantselebi (ცისფერყანწელები) or The Blue Horns’ — called so after the literary magazine devoted to symbolism and decadence “Tsisperi qantsebi” (“ცისფერი ყანწები”; The Blue Horns) was first published in 1916. Georgian National Gallery is still known as “The Blue Gallery”, because the building literally used to be blue.
Though above all “blue” treasures the tablecloth is definitely the one to be mentioned first. Traditional tablecloth (ქართული სუფრა), which is granted the status of UNESCO world heritage, is blue. The oldest samples of cotton tablecloths painted in blue date back to the end of the XVIIth century. These textiles were dyed in blue using indigo paint, obtained through processing indigo plants. The specific patterns and, most importantly, the color, made Georgian textiles different from their Russian and European counterparts. In Georgian they were called “lurji supra” — that means blue tablecloth.
“Some information about blue tablecloth may have existed earlier, but only the sources dating back to the XVII century in the palace of Alexander II’s, the king of Kakheti region, have been preserved. At first it was a well-established etiquette at the palace of Georgia kings to use this tablecloth and time to time peasant families started using it as well. The ornaments carry symbolic meanings: for example, the deer is associated with the tree of life in Georgian mythology, the bird belongs to this tree of life, fish is a symbol of Jesus Christ. Everything was done for a reason. The tablecloth was also decorated with little crosses”, – Professor Tinatin Kldiashvili said in the interview to Georgian Journal . Also, if you want to know more about the famous tablecloth, follow the article on Folklife.
Blue was also the color of love and, Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, Georgian writer and public figure, described his love with colors: “ზღვის ფერი გაქვს თვალები და თავად გავხარ ზღვას” [Zghvis feri gaqvs tvalebi da tavad gavkhar zghvas] — “Your eyes are the color of the sea and you yourself look like the sea”. Though one of the most famous poems devoted to the blue color is by Nikoloz Baratashvili and was written in 1841.
ცისა ფერს, ლურჯსა ფერს
ცისა ფერს, ლურჯსა ფერს,
პირველად ქმნილსა ფერსდა
არ ამ ქვეყნიერს,
და ახლაც, როს სისხლი
ვფიცავ მე — არ ვეტრფო
არ ოდეს ფერსა სხვას.
ვეტრფი მე ცისა ფერს;
მოსრული იგი ცით
ფიქრი მე სანატრი
მიმიწვევს ცისა ქედს,
რომ ეშხით დამდნარი
შევერთო ლურჯსა ფერს.
მოვკვდები — ვერ ვნახავ
ცრემლსა მე მშობლიურს, —
მის ნაცვლად ცა ლურჯი
დამაფრქვევს ცვარს ციურს!
სამარეს ჩემსა, როს
გარს ნისლი მოეცვას —
ციაგმან ლურჯსა ცას!
The azure blue, the heavenly hue,
The first created realm of blue;
And over its radiance divine
My soul does pour its love sublime.
My heart that once with joy did glow
Is plunged in sorrow and in woe,
But yet it thrills and loves anew
To view again the sapphire blue.
I love to gaze on lovely eyes
That swim in azure from the skies;
The heavens lend this color fair,
Arid leave a dream of gladness there.
Enamored of the limpid sky,
My thoughts take wing to regions high,
And in that blue of liquid fire
In raptured ecstasy expire.
When I am dead no tears will flow
Upon my lonely grave below,
But from above the aerial blue
Will scatter over me tears of dew.
The mists about my tomb will wind
A veil of pearl with shadows twined;
But lured by sunbeams from on high
Twill melt into the azure sky.”
― Nikoloz Baratashvili