Discover original film, theatre and choreographic costumes preserved in the Art Palace of Georgia
Over the centuries, Queen Tamar has emerged as a dominant figure in the Georgian historical pantheon. The construction of her reign as a "Golden Age" began in the reign itself and Tamar became the focus of the era. It is said, that to write the internationally recognized epic poem ‘The Knight in the Panther's Skin’, the prominent medieval poet Shota Rustaveli was inspired by the love of Queen Tamar.
Tamar’s visual image was preserved only by four frescoes in different monasteries: the earliest portrait, guarded in the Vardzia Monastery (cave monastery site in southern Georgia), shows still youthful, unmarried girl, standing beside her formidable father.
In the 1930s, Georgian theatre painter Soliko Virsaladze (1908-1989) made a precise restoration of the costume of the monarch on the basis of the Vardzia fresco, and after not an easy adventure, at present, this exact costume is preserved in the Art Palace of Georgia.
The ceremonial dress of Queen Tamar represents a unique piece of art. It contains 3621 pearls, 154 gilded and 158 silver belts.
One of the most notable aspects is that the dress represents on the one hand the power of the country and on the other hand its political orientation. In the 12th century, after cementing the national unity, Queen Tamar began an active foreign policy, which was why the 10th-13th-century Georgian royal apparel was manly of Byzantine origin. Researchers believe, that political circumstances and cultural ties was due to condition Byzantine influence. Royal garments consisted of "kuartis" – Beason (apparel) and diadems.
Georgian Kings' Bisson differs slightly from the Byzantine one, it was relatively wide and short, did not have the belt and specified colour. According to preserved frescoes, Queen Tamar used to wear violet apparel which was decorated with strips of pearls and luxurious metals and stones on its collar and wrists. It is considerable, that the collar of the costume was called – ‘Maniac’ and it was used only with royal family members’ apparels. ‘Maniac’ firstly appeared in Egypt and Arabia and afterwards in Byzantine. The collar of Tamar’s dress is very much like of that of Egyptian pharaohs ‘maniac’.
The whole choreography is subordinated to the idea of the unity of three principles. In the movements, we can feel royal moderation and calm power. This is one momentary, illusory flash of that mythical, just and powerful Georgia to which all Georgians are connected by a veil of nostalgia. In addition, the trinity idea in the dance represents King Tamar as a young princess, a wise mother and the powerful king. All these three images are united in one harmonious picture. Moreover, the simple but soft and graceful movements create an atmosphere of beauty, glory and power that surrounded the King’s reign.
The dress of Keto from the movie ‘Keto and Kote’ represents a distinctive artwork of Georgian national film treasure. It is assumed to be a symbol of sophisticated and exquisite costume of Georgian 20th-century movie world. It represents the direction of Georgian fashion of 20th century and shows how, by that time, the European influence brought new tendencies and element from the West.
In the 19th-century Russian Empire, similar dresses were made for madams; however, in preserved photos, two famous Georgian women Mary Shervashidze and Agraphina Japaridze wore such kind of dresses at the beginning of the 20th century. By time, the appearance of the dress has been changed. The lower end (train), about two meters long, was shortened during the shooting of the movie ‘George Saakadze’.
History of the belt is very interesting and it begins from the Bronze Age. In 6th-7th cc., belts were often made of leather and fabric with a strap on it. The Georgian Prince’s costume also has a unique belt decorated with 14 precious stones and 635 pearls. The belt ends with a big buckle made of silver and is decorated with colored glass.
Coming from unknown source, this pelerine was used in mid-20th century in one of the most heroic Georgian movie 'Bashi-Achuki' as a costume of one of the characters: Prince Cholokashvili. The style of the pelerine unites Georgian and Persian traditions alike. An interesting technique was used while creating the attire – with specific golden and black dye, master painted on wool by hand and while looking at costume now, it makes an impression that there are embedded textiles in it.
Presented red costume is an interpretation of the old Osman ‘Subun’. It was worn by character Mahmud (Otar Koberidze) in the Georgian historical movie ‘Mamluk’ (1958). The Osman costume ‘Subun’, was created in Istanbul’s Beyazit district. This richly adorned, velvet man's cloak, which actually reminds more of a jacket, stands out with the generous number of ornaments. According to the tradition established in the 16th century, the Subun was embroidered, with fringes decorating the sleeves.
This costume performed in broadcloth, repeats the main elements of Subun, although it stands out with higher skill of adornment and thus reminds more of a festive cloak worn by Turkish soldiers (Askers). It seems that the costume designer Revaz Mirzashvili took as a sample the typical clothing and adornment of the guards who served with the last Ottoman sultan Abdul Hamid II (1842-1918).
The Georgian lady’s dress – kaba can be characterized by two main styles: Sakhlavtaviani (Laced in the front) and Gujastiani – a dress which included a square cut on the chest. Kaba's necessary items were: a chest piece, long, open sleeves, cuffs and a girdle.The Georgian dress was tight on the waist and wide and flowing on the bottom. It consisted upper and lower parts which joined each other at the back. The neckline was slightly cut out. Until the 1870’s the upper part was mainly gujastiani (fastened with hooks at the front).
The costume is known as ‘kulaja’ - an upper garment for men. It is narrower at the waistline, gathered and worn on top of the akhalukhi. The sleeves reach the elbows. It was fastened on the chest piece with buttons and hooks. In winter, it had a fur lining and a silk and satin lining for other seasons. It was made of valuable fabric (mostly velvet) and coloured (dark red, green, blue) silk fabric.
In 1882, the apparel was used in George Eristoff’s play ‘Samshoblo’ (Motherland).
COSTUME OF THE TOREADOR
The costume of the toreador was created in Milano, especially for the famous Georgian Opera Singer, barytone Sandro Inashvili. Using the same principles and technique as the real clothing for a matador, it was created for the theatre production ‘Carmen’. The festive costume of a matador is considered to be one of the greatest masterpieces in the history of the world fashion. It is called ‘traje de luces’ – the costume of fire.
Seamstresses and tailors strived to make clothing practical and beautiful which symbolised the spiritual world and surrounding nature. The Khevsurian costumes expressed cultural tastes of this ethnic group. This exact shirt perfectly reflects a special ancient pattern. On both sides, they had cuts, about a span long, which was designed for horse-riding as the cuts made it easier to ride a horse.
Georgian State Museum of Theatre, Music, Cinema and Choreography - Art Palace