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Nakipari, Murals of the Church of St. George. First Layer

Building: Nakipari, Church of St. George ("Jgrag")
Layer of the Murals: First Layer
Date/Period: 9th-10th cc.
Donor(s): Unknown
Painter(s): Unknown
Building Gallery


of the Donor(s)
of the Painter(s)


Fragments of original painting have been preserved in the interior, on the communion chancel and the chancel screen in the interior of Nakipari Church, as well as on its east façade.



The right-angled communion chancel fully covered with plaster is placed at the chancel wall. The stone is painted on all three sides. The decoration is created by a band of ornament surrounding the upper edges – parallel lines with semi-circles drawn between them and painted with cinnabar. There are dots of cinnabar in the semi-circles and under the red band. The background, like the chancel screen, must have been pale pink.


Chancel Screen

The three-span chancel screen is contemporaneous with construction of the church. Presently the chancel screen is decorated with pictorial images of the second layer, although painting of the first layer can also be identified in places. The extant fragments show evidence that geometrical ornaments were painted with cinnabar against the pale pink background over the whole entablement; an arcade running over the bands, circles tied to each other and an arrow and bow are represented on both sides of the central arch above the Holy Doors. Pearl-like pellets are set in the bands and the arcade. The entablement also has radial, semi-circular and cruciform ornaments.



There are six images along the cornice on each side of the pediment of the east façade of the church; fragment of a wing can be observed at the tip of the pediment; some scholars suggest that personification of the Holy Spirit must have been depicted in the pediment, while the twelve-figure scene distributed over the area of the pediment was the Pentecost; others identify this scene with the composition of the Ascension.

Below the composition, around the window, the artistic décor is created by a composition made up of relief animals and pictorial images depicted in the three-span arch. In the middle arch, above the bas-relief of a deer, Christ Immanuel is represented with a halo in which the cross is inscribed. There are figures of saints with halos -one depicted in each side of the arched niches (can be discerned only above the shoulders). Such a combination of sculpted and pictorial decor might be conveying revelation or vision of the Savior – the scene of the miracle of Saint Eustatius.


René Shmerling, Malye formy v arkhitekture srednevekovoj Gruzii [Minor Forms in the Architecture of Medieval Georgia] (Tbilisi, 1962), 228.

Natela Aladashvili, Gajane Alibegashvili, Aneli Volskaja, Rospisi khudozhnika Tevdore v Verkhnej Svaneti [Murals of the Painter T’evdore in the Upper Svanet’i] (Tbilisi, 1966), 51.

Tat’jana Shevjakova, Monumental’naja zhivopis’ rannego srednevekov’ja Gruzii [The Monumental Painting of the Early Medieval Georgia] (Tbilisi, 1983), pl. 86–90.

Natela Aladashvili, Gajane Alibegashvili, Aneli Volskaja, Zhivopisnaja shkola Svaneti [The Painting School of Svaneti] (Tbilisi, 1983), 77.

Natela Aladashvili, Aneli Vol’skaja, “Fasadnye rospisi verknej Svanet’i (X–XVII vv.)” [“Murals on Facades in the Upper Svanet’I”], Ars Georgica 9–A (1987): 97–100.

Rusudan Q’enia, Nat’ela Aladashvili, Zemo svanet’i (shua saukuneebis khelovneba). Gzamkvlevi [Medieval Art of Upper Svaneti: A Guidebook] [Sak’art’velos megzuri [Guide of Georgia]: 2] (Tbilisi, 2000), 52–4.