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Kumurdo, Murals of the Cathedral of the Virgin. First Layer

Building: Kumurdo, Cathedral of the Virgin
Layer of the Murals: First Layer
Date/Period: 964
Donor(s): Zosime, the Bishop of Kumurdo
Painter(s): Unknown
Building Gallery


of the Donor(s)

ႸႼႥႬႧႠ ႶႨႱჂႧႠ ႨႭႥႬႤ ႤႡႱႩႱႫႬ ႣႣႥႠ ႱႻႰႩႥႪႨ ႠႫႱ ႤႩႪႤႱႱჂ ჄႪႨႧႠ ႹႫ ႺႣႥႪ ႱႩႭႺႰႨႱႧႠ ႪႤႭႬ ႫႤႴႨႱႠ ႦჁ ႠႣႣႬ ႶႬ ႵႰႬႩႬႱႠ || |ႮႣ ႧႠ |ႠჂႱႠ| ႣႶႤႱႠ |ႴႧႱႠ | ႫႧႳႠႰႨႱႱႠ ႤႰႨႱ|ႧႥႭႡႱႠ |ჃႠႱႱႠ ႤႱႤ |ႠႪႠႥႰႨ ႫႬ| ႣႨႣႥႠ ႵႤ| ႸႤႼႤ ႫႬ|ႱႠ ႸႬႱႠ ႠႬWith God’s help, Bishop Iovane laid the foundation of this church by my hand – the sinful Sakotsari, in the name of King Leon – let God glorify him – the koronikon 184, May 1, Saturday, at the new moon, when Zvia was the governor; this foundation was laid by him. Christ, be a fellow-fighter to your slave, amen (Javakhet’is epigrap’ikuli korpusi, gamosatsemad moamzades da gamokvlevebi daurt’es †valeri silogavam, lia akhaladzem, merab beridzem, nestan sulavam da roin q’avrelishvilma [The Epigraphic Corpus of Javakhet’I, Edited and Accompanied with the Studies by †Valeri Silogava, Lia Akhaladze, Merab Beridze, Nestan Sulava and Roin Q’avrelishvili](Tbilisi, 2012), 73–4 (№98).


of the Painter(s)


The interior of the church was partly embellished with aniconic (?) decoration simultaneously with its construction. It is evidenced by the area of the keystone of the chancel apse conch where the walling of hewn trapezoid blocks form radially spread segments together with the semi-circular keystone. Every second block of the masonry is painted red which makes it look like a fan (interestingly, examples of similar painting decorating conch keystones of apses are evidenced in other Tao-Klarjeti- related monuments of the second half of the tenth century. For instance, in the conches of the chancels and other apses of the main, St. John the Baptist churches of Oshki and Parkhali). The similar motif is encountered in façade decors too. It is not excluded that part of this décor was a narrow line of blocks surrounding the above-mentioned fan-like composition which has preserved plastering in the form of a narrow frieze, and fragment of gold background (?) – at the left edge. Supposedly, a similar décor adorned the conches of the rest of the four apses.



The aniconic decoration of the chancel apse of the church belongs to the final period of construction of the church; it must be documented by the fact that in the chancel it is covered by the painting created at the end of the tenth century or the beginning of the eleventh century. The primary aniconic and, seemingly, scanty decoration of the interior of Kumurdo Cathedral duly matches with the artistic expressiveness of the walls of perfect masonry and the polychromic (blue, red, golden and green-based) décor which embellished considerable areas of the interior of the church as well as its facades.


Tinatin Virsaladze, “Atenis sionis mokhatuloba” [“Ateni Sioni Murals”], in id., K’art’uli mkhatvrobis istoriidan [From the History of Georgian Painting] (Tbilisi, 2007), 113.

Dea Gunia, Kumurdo Cathedral (Tbilisi, 2019), 158, ill. 77.