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

Building: Kemerti, Church of St. George
Layer of the Murals: First Layer
Date/Period: 8th c.
Donor(s): Unknown
Painter(s): Unknown
Building Gallery


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


The first layer of the painting was revealed following the damage caused by the earthquake of 1991, when the second layer of the painting came off.



Two small compositions were depicted on both sides of the chancel window. It is difficult to claim whether there had been painting of the first layer on other sections of the chancel or other areas of the interior; in this regard research carried out during restoration of the church and its outcomes should be taken into consideration – according to the data, apart from the areas adjacent to the chancel window, no traces of painting have been evidenced.

Due to the damage, two fragments of the first layer of the painting were removed and transferred to the Center for Research, Fixation and Restoration of Georgian Art. Their present location is unknown.

Two compositions were depicted on both sides of the chancel window (at the height of 160 m). Each is contained in broad framing and is perceived as an icon-type image.

A longitudinal, rectangular composition on the southern section of the window is comparatively large (61 x 44 cm). Enthroned Christ is depicted in the center of the three-figure composition; the frontal, full-length figure of the Savior holds His hands at the chest in sign of supplication; the open book is depicted at the waist of the figure. Christ is flanked by two frontal figures. Bad condition of the images and, generally, the nature of their execution (primitive, graphic drawing) makes their identification complicated. The figure standing left (on the south) of Christ is wearing a long robe with a narrow belt and his hands are directed towards Christ (he even touches the figure of Christ with his right hand); the bearded figure standing right (on the north) of Christ has a book in his right hand; he is wearing a loose cloak. It is presumed that the Virgin was depicted on the right of the Savior, and St. John the Baptist or, probably, a saint or a donor – on the left. Presence of the figures of the leaders of the host of saint apostles – St. Peter and St. Paul – next to enthroned Christ is not excluded either.

In the center of a smaller composition (31 x 34 cm) depicted north of the window is a frontal figure with a halo, while in the corners of the scene much smaller frontal figures are represented (the figure in the lower left-hand corner is completely erased). The central figure is bearded, wearing a robe and a cloak; the open hand put at the chest and directed left can be discerned. Small-size full-length figures represented on the right, in the upper and lower corners, are depicted without halos, wearing robes and cloaks hanging over the shoulders (the figure in the upper right-hand corner is bearded). The beardless one in the upper left-hand corner has a nimb; he is also wearing a robe and a cloak and his hand raised to the chest is stretched left.

It is impossible to identify the composition and, accordingly, the mentioned figures.


Zaza Skhirtladze, Merab Buchukuri, “Mokhatulobis p’ragmentebi k’emertis eklesiidan” [“Fragments of the Painting from Kemerti Church”], Sak’art’velos sidzveleni [Georgian Antiquities] 6 (2004): 9–20.

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), 160–2, pl. XI1.