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Gareja, Udabno Monastery, Murals of Refectory. First Layer

Building: Gareja, Udabno Monastery, Refectory
Layer of the Murals: First Layer
Date/Period: Second half of the 11th century
Donor(s): Unknown
Painter(s): Unknown
Building Gallery


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


Paintings adorn only certain sections of the walls of the refectory; the ceiling is left unpainted too. Frescos are laid out in a single register placed quite high. The iconographic scheme of painting is distinguished by its laconic character. The scenes of the Old and New Testaments that are directly connected to the refectory and eucharist had been specially selected for its iconographic programme.


The Eastern Wall

The chancel is carved out in the southern part of the east wall of the interior of the refectory; the apse has a three-figure representation of the Deesis: The Virgin (Ⴃ(Ⴄ)Ⴃ(ႠჂ): |(ႫႰ)()|Mother of God) and St. John the Baptist (the inscription is lost) flank the Savior seated on a sumptuous throne with back and pedestal in supplication (the explanatory inscription is lost: the inscription on the open codex of the Savior is unreadable). This composition seems to have been fully renovated at least once.

Composition of the Last Supper is depicted on the northern half of the east wall (the inscription is lost); the left part of the scene shows enthroned Christ. The center of the scene is occupied by a rather big-size table full of food and the apostles sitting at it


The Northern Wall

The arched niche of the father superior is cut into the central section of the north wall; paintings of the niche were renovated later. A three-figure composition of Deesis bordered by the imitation of marble at the bottom and represented above the opening arranged in the north wall of the niche belongs to the first layer. Composition of the Annunciation, depicted above the niche, as well as the full-length figure of St. Davit’ Garejeli in Orans, depicted left of the niche, must be contemporaneous with that of the Deesis. Fragments of the murals that are best visible – the Mandylion glorified by angels on the head of the niche, the smaller-scale Deesis in the niche, archangels and the cross encircled in a medallion depicted in the center of the niche arch and archangels on the sides of the niche – belong to a later period, presumably the early 13th century.

The Hospitality of Abraham (the inscription is damaged) is depicted in the arch cut into the eastern part of the north wall of the refectory. The center of the composition shows a clothed table with food and three angels sitting at it. On their left is Abraham (ႠႡႰ()() Abraham; the inscription was renovated later), on their right – Ismail (the inscription is lost). Intradoses of the arch are painted too: on the east – a domed ciborium with a veil; there is a pitcher in its door and a city with domed structures on the west.

Stylites are depicted on the southern walls of the columns of arched doors leading into the refectory: St. Simeon of Aleppo ((ႫႨႣႠ) || ႱჃႨႫႨႭႬ : ႠႪ()ႡႤႪႨ Saint Simeon of Aleppo) and St. Simeon the Miracle-Worker ((ႫႨႣႠ) || ႱჃႨႫႨႭႬ : ႱႠႩჃႨႰႥ()|ႪႧႫႭႵႫႤႣႨ: – Saint Simeon the Miracle-Worker); on the intrados of the middle arch – St. Euthymius the Great ((ႫႨႣႠ) || ႤႴႧჃჂႫ| Saint Euthymius the Great) and St. Davit’ Garejeli ((ႫႨႣႠ) || ႣႠႥႨႧ Saint David).



The main layer of the paintings of the refectory of Udabno monastery is dated in two ways – by the turn of the 10th-11th centuries (Aneli Vol’skaja, Rospisi srednevekovykh trapeznykh Gruzii [Murals of Medieval Georgian Refectories] (Tbilisi, 1974), 3-76, 79-87) and mid-11th century (Аntony Eastmond, Zaza Skhirtladze, “Udabno Monastery in Georgia: Innovation, Conservation and the Reinterpretation of Medieval Art“, Iconographica VII (2008), 35-7) – simultaneously with the murals of the main church of Udabno Monastery.


Dmitrij Gordeev, “Monastyri Garedzhi (1919)” [“Gareja Monasteries (1919)”], in Zaza Skhirtladze, “Garejis mravalmt’is samonastro gaert’ianebis mokhatulobat’a sametsniero kvlevis istoriidan” [“Excerpts on the History of Scientific Research of Gareja Murals”], Gelat’is metsnierebat’a akademiis shromebi [Proceedings of Gelati Academy of Sciences] V (2019): 400–1.

Georgij Chubinashvili, Peshchernye monastyri David-Garedzhi, [Cave Monasteries of David Garedji] (Tbilisi, 1948), 75–8.

Shalva Amiranashvili, Istorija gruzinskoj srednevekovoj monumental’noj zhivopisi [History of Medieval Georgian Monumental Painting] I (Tbilisi, 1957), 53–64.

Guram Abramishvili, Davi’t garejelis tsikli k’art’ul kedlis mkhatvrobashi [The Cycle of Davit Garejeli in Georgian Wall Paintings] (Tbilisi, 1972), 143–5.

Aneli Vol’skaja, Rospisi srednevekovykh trapeznykh Gruzii [Murals of Medieval Georgian Refectories] (Tbilisi, 1974), 3–76, 79–87.

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), 142–3.

Аntony Eastmond, Zaza Skhirtladze, “Udabno Monastery in Georgia: Innovation, Conservation and the Reinterpretation of Medieval Art“, Iconographica VII (2008): 35–7.

Aneli Volkaia, Dimitri Tumanishvili, Marine Bulia, Davitgareji Monasteries: Laura, Udabno (Tbilisi, 2008), 80–93.

Lado Mirianashvili, “Non-Traditional Iconography of The Hospitality of Abraham from the Refectory of Udabno Monastery in David-Gareji, Georgia“, Ikon: Journal of Iconographic Studies 6 (2013): 109–14.