Gareja, Murals of Tetri Udabno Church
|Building:||Gareja, Tetri Udabno, Church|
|Layer of the Murals:||One Layer|
of the Donor(s)
of the Painter(s)
Only the apse of the chancel has survived from the church. Therefore, it is unclear whether it was completely painted.
A big-size radiant cross inscribed in an oval mandorla is depicted in the conch. The upper part of the mandorla is intersected and the lower edge is likely to have had the same outline (presently erased). The upper arm of the cross has a plate with a two-line asomtvaruli inscription (Ⴕ Ⴈ(ႤႱ)Ⴡ ႬႠႦႠႰႤႥႤႪ|Ⴈ ႫႤჃႴ[Ⴄ] ჀႭჃ|ႰႨႠႧႠჂ – Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews). Four garnet-colored beams are sent from the intersection of the arms.
The upper part of the mandorla is represented against the starry sky.
A fruit-bearing palm-tree with extended branches depicted against the ground was represented on both sides of the lower part of the mandorla.
A three-figure composition of the Presentation is depicted in the center of the apse below the conch. St. Simeon the Righteous (Ⴜ(ႫႨႣႠ)Ⴢ | Ⴑ(Ⴈ)Ⴋ(Ⴍ)Ⴌ – Saint Simeon) holding Baby Jesus (Ⴈ(ႤႱ)Ⴡ Ⴕ(ႰႨႱႲ)Ⴄ – Jesus Christ) is represented on the left. The right half of the composition shows the figure of the Virgin (Ⴜ(ႫႨႣႠ)Ⴢ | Ⴋ(Ⴀ)|Ⴐ(Ⴈ Ⴀ)|Ⴋ – Saint Mary) with the right hand raised in front of Her chest.
There are two opinions about creating the painting. According to one, the chancel frescos must have been painted at an early stage of the history of Gareja monasteries, supposedly, in the seventh-eighth centuries (Zaza Skhirtladze, “Newly Discovered Early Paintings in the Gareja Desert”, in Antony Eastmond ed., Eastern Approaches to Byzantium. Papers from the Thirty-Third Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, University of Warwick, Coventry, March 1999 [Publications of the Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies 9] (Aldershot, 2001), 150-5). It is supported by reference of iconographic (archaism of the conch composition) and contentual peculiarities of the painting to local, as well as Christian eastern and western traditions, as well as stylistic features of the painting and paleography of the fresco inscriptions. According to another opinion, the painting was executed in the ninth-tenth centuries. This dating is based on the architectural features of the church, paleographic data of the incised inscriptions, presumable time of establishing of the original literary source of the scheme of chancel murals in Georgia, as well as on individual iconographic characteristics Marine Bulia, “T’et’ri udabnos mokhatuloba da adreuli k’art’uli mkhatvrobis zogiert’I sakit’khi” [“T’et’ri Udabno Murals and Some Aspects of the Early Medieval Georgian Mural Painting”] Sak’art’velos Sidzveleni [Georgian Antiquities] 15 (2012): 48-74).
Regarding iconographic, contentual and stylistic features, paleography of fresco inscriptions and general context, it is presumable that the painting of the chancel of the church of Tetri Udabno belongs to the seventh-eighth centuries. The wall-painting of the church is one of the early examples of forming painting traditions typical of the monastic environment of Gareja monasteries.
Zaza Skhirtladze, “T’et’ri udabnos eklesiis mokhatuloba” [“Murals of the Church of T’et’ri Udabno”], k’art’uli khelovnebis istoriis institutis XXXII sametsniero sesia, mokhesenbat’a t’ezisebi [23rd Session of the Institute of Georgian Art History. Abstracts] (Tbilisi, 1997), 22–3.
Zaza Skhirtladze, “Newly Discovered Early Paintings in the Gareja Desert”, in Antony Eastmond ed., Eastern Approaches to Byzantium, Papers from the Thirty-Third Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies [Publications of the Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies: 9] (Aldershot, 2001), 150–5.
Zaza Skhirtladze, Adreuli shua saukuneebis kart’uli kedlis mkhatvroba. T’elovanis jvarpatiosani [Early Medieval Georgian Monumental Painting. Telovani Church of the Holy Cross] (Tbilisi, 2008), 114–19.
Marine Bulia, “T’et’ri udabnos mokhatuloba da adreuli k’art’uli mkhatvrobis zogiert’I sakit’khi” [“T’et’ri Udabno Murals and Some Aspects of the Early Medieval Georgian Mural Painting”] Sak’art’velos Siidzveleni [Georgian Antiquities] 15 (2012): 48–74.
Nino Chikhladze, Dzveli sak’art’velos monumenturi p’erts’era da misi moamageni [Old Georgian Monumental Painting and its Guardians] (Tbilisi, 2017), 49, il. 10.
Lado Mirianashvili, “Theological Content of a Mural in a Church of the Tetri Udabno Monastery of Gareji”, in David Gareji – Multidisciplinary Study and Development Strategy, Proceedings of International Conference (Tbilisi, 2020).