The ABC of Georgia
And the beginning of IERI Store
By IERI team
In the beginning was the Word, and in the case of IERI store that is literally like that. Our founder Teymuraz Guguberidze had a big dream to create something special to celebrate Georgian identity. A dream, that might sound a little pathetic, turned into a very beautiful and meaningful project — a hand-painted ABC-book.
From the ancient times till the beginning of the XIX century people used to study reading and writing by learning letters by heart and then merging them into syllables and later — into words. In the beginning of the XIX century a new method appeared — students would synthes words to sounds and letters. This new method made the learning process easier and quicker and one of pioneers of this method in Georgia was Iakob Gogebashvili. His impact on Georgian literacy is indescribable. Also taking into consideration that he created the very first books of Georgian language based on the new method. That’s why he is often called the founder of scientific education in Georgia.
Gogebashvili’s first creation was the “Alphabet of the Georgian language” published in 1865. Followed by several oфther books on Georgian language and the very first textbook of Russian language for Georgians called “Russian word”, in 1887.
In 2015 company “Heritage Ltd” devoted a new ABC-book called “Anbani” to Gogebashvili’s first “Alphabet”, published exactly 150 years ago. The word “Anbani” comes from the names of two first words “A — ani” and “B-bani”.
The book was created by two painters Mamuka Shengelia and Gocha Kakabadze, who gave a titanic labour to accomplish this work. They needed to choose proper places, words and poems to depict each of 33 letters in the book. Heritage sights, flora and fauna of Georgia, cultural legacy, traditional dishes and other authentic Georgian virtues.
Mamuka Shengelia was born in 1965. In the years of 1980 –1984 he went to the Iakob Nikoladze Art S km chool. He graduated from the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts in 1991. Starting from 1996 he held more than 15 personal exhibitions in Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Tbilisi etc. From 2011 till 2018 he collaborated with Gocha Kakabadze for an exhibition in the galleries of “Shardeni”, “Baia”, “Vanda”, “Red Square”.
Gocha Kakabadze was born in 1966. In the years of 1980 –1984 he went to the Iakob Nikoladze Art School. He graduated from the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts in 1990. Starting from 2006 till this day he has held more than 10 personal exhibitions in Georgia, Germany, Italy and Switzerland. In 2008 together with Mamuka Shengelia, he painted the cathedral of Getsmania in Mtskheta. From 2011 till 2018 he collaborated with Gocha Kakabadze for an exhibition in the galleries of “Shardeni”, “Baia”, “Vanda”, “Red Square”.
“We have been working together for so long and created more than 100 books. However working on this project was very special. From the very beginning we understood that this is not just an art-project, but also a guide to Georgia for locals and foreigners. We had to show the best sides of our country — and there was so much to talk about. On the left side of the book you will find the most significant sights — monasteries, villages, ancient towns, mountain peaks and other important locations, and on the right — poems and lovely drawings of Georgian dishes, objects of household, animal, flowers and even some ritual items (Like the Wishing tree — Natvris Khe on the “N” page). Also, we noticed a very beautiful coincidence that later turned into a concept. The books was supposed to start with « ა » — A — Abkhazia, and end with « ჰ » — “h” — Hereti — two extreme points of Georgia. And there we are after a huge journey from Abkhazia to Hereti, which we invite you to join us for”.
— Gocha Kakabadze and Mamuka Shengelia
The hardest part was to confirm the final list of the words and places for the book. What is more important to put for “S”? The ancient monastery and church of Svetitskhoveli or the capital of Abkhazia — Sokhumi? The painters made the choice and you can order the book to find out what the final decision was.
The technological side of the work was no less harder. The painters used watercolor papers with the eggshell structure, to which they glued and covered with mineral dyes a thin canvas. Drawings were made with natural pigments using gold leaf glaze.
Flipping through this book is like traveling throughout your childhood in Georgia, which you might have not even spent here. But you can literally smell the odor of freshly baked bread, feel the sweetness of churchkhela on your tongue, hear the perky noise of mountain rivers and sense the warm rustling of the wind in your hair.