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Gareja, Sabereebi, Murals of the Church №6

Building: Gareja, Sabereebi, Church №6
Layer of the Murals: One Layer
Date/Period: Second half of the 9th century
Donor(s): Unknown
Painter(s): Unknown
Building Gallery


of the Donor(s)


of the Painter(s)

A badly damaged asomtavruli text outlined on the south wall of the chancel, below the ornament marking off the conch and the lower registre must belong to the artist: […]ႠႲႤႱ [- – – – – – -]Ⴄ [- -] Ⴀ ႶႨႰႱ ႥႨ|[- – – -] […] […]ates [- – – – – – -]e [–] a was made worthy […] (Zaza Skhirtladze, Sabereeebis p’reskuli ts’arts’erebi [Fresco Iscriptions of Sabereebi] [sak’art’velos istoriis ts’q’aroebi: 35 [Sources for History of Georgia: 35] (Tbilisi, 1985), 41-2).


The domed church, its south chapel and the south chamber are decorated with murals.



The chancel and the north arm were painted; only a small fragments can be discerned of the badly damaged painting, although it is still possible to reconstruct the programme.



In the chancel painting is structured in two registres – it is a short version of the Christ in Majesty. Enthroned Christ with the right hand raised in blessing and an open book in the left hand is depicted in the centre of the conch (only two graphemes are now legible out of the vast inscription on the book – ႢႣGD). Both archangels flanking Christ – Michael ((ႫႨႣႠ)Ⴢ | Ⴋ()()Saint Michael and Gabriel (Ⴜ(ႫႨႣႠ)Ⴢ | Ⴂ()(ႰႨႤႪ)Saint Gabriel) are glorifying Him with one hand and holding an unrolled scroll in the other. Four large apocalyptic stars are depicted around the Savior represented without a mandorla.

A figure, probably a deacon, is depicted under each impost on the edges of the conch. Only fragments of the face and the hand have survived from the figure represented below the north impost. It is likely that the fresco featured a half-figure of a saint.

The second registre has the Virgin ((ႫႨႣႠ)Ⴢ Ⴋ[(ႠႰႨႠ)Ⴋ)] Saint Mary) flanked by rows of apostles; fragments of the heads and nimbs of the figures have survived (left of the Virgin – (ႫႨႣႠ)Ⴢ [- – – – -] Saint Peter, right – (ႫႨႣႠ) წ(მიდა)ჲ – Saint – are identifiable). Figures of three apostles on the edge of the north wall are completely obliterated.

The registres are separated from each other by a folded ornament.



In the north arm the composition of the Crucifixion is depicted in the eastern half of the north wall; it is surrounded by a wide folded ornament. Crucified Christ is depicted wearing a long colobium (lower half of the figure has survived). Crucified thieves are depicted on both sides of the Savior in the upper part of the scene; right of Christ (on the west) is a frontal figure of the Roman centurion Longinus ([…] || […]Ⴄ || […] […]E []I) wearing a long robe and with his hands raised – holding a long spear in a vertical position. Right of crucified Christ (on the east) another soldier is depicted ([…] | | […] || […][-]ႤჂ […][]EI); he is facing the Savior with his head and right hand raised towards Christ (he might be holding a sponge put on a reed – poor condition of the painting makes accurate identification impossible). The Virgin is depicted next to Longinus (on the left), and St. John the Theologian – next to the sponge (on the right); they are facing Christ (upper parts of the figures are erased).

The image of a donor which is perceived on the eastern wall of the north arm as part of the composition of the Crucifixion is separated from the latter by a three-side folded ornament. The painted layer is damaged, but one can identify a full-length frontal figure with the hands raised in supplication.


Southern Porch

Only the chancel and the north wall are decorated with murals in the chapel.

Enthroned Virgin Hodegetria is depicted in the chancel conch ((ႫႨႣႠ)Ⴢ | Ⴋ(ႠႰႨႠ)Saint Mary). The Virgin is flanked by frontal figures of archangels – St. Uriel ((ႫႨႣႠ)Ⴢ ႳႰ[]ႤႪ Saint Uriel) and St. Suriel ((ႫႨႣႠ)Ⴢ | ႱႭ|ႰႨ|ႤႪ Saint Suriel). The angels have one hand raised towards the beholder, and, presumably, an unrolled scroll in the other.

The southern edge of the apse has a badly damaged image of St. Nathan the Prophet ((ႫႨႣႠ)Ⴢ | [ႬႠ]|[ႧႠႬ] | ႼႨ|ႬႠႱ|ႼႠႰ|ႫႤႲ|ႷႥႤ|ႪႨ – Holy Prophet Nathan.


Southern Chamber

A pair of holy riders was depicted on the north wall of the presently destroyed chamber. Only a fragment of one figure has survived.


Aneli Vol’skaja, “Rannie rospisi Garedzhi” [“Early Paintings of Gareja”], IV Mezhdunarodnij simpozium po gruzinskomu iskusstvu [Offprint from the Fourth International Symposium on Georgian Art] (Tbilisi, 1983).

Tat’jana Shevjakova, Monumental’naja zhivopis’ rannego srednevekov’ja Gruzii [The Monumental Painting of the Early Medieval Georgia] (Tbilisi, 1983), 9–11.

Zaza Skhirtladze, Sabereeebis p’reskuli ts’arts’erebi [Fresco Iscriptions of Sabereebi] [sak’art’velos istoriis ts’q’aroebi: 35 [Sources for History of Georgia: 35] (Tbilisi, 1985), 37–55.

Aneli Vol’skaja, “Rospisi peshchernjkh monastyrej David Garedzhi” [“Murals of the David Gareji Cave Monasteries”], in Konstantine P’itskhelauri ed., Gareji [Kakhet’is ark’qeologiuri ek’speditsiis shromebi: VIII [Kakheti Archeological Expedition Studies: VIII] (Tbilisi, 1988), 134–5.

Marine Q’enia, “Adreul k’art’ul mokhatuloba’ta programebis t’aviseburebat’a gamo” [“On the Pecularities of Programmes of Early Georgian Murals”], Sak’art’velos Sidzveleni [Georgian Antiquities] 11 (2007): 47–50, 52–3.