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Mtskheta, Murals of the Minor Church of the Holy Cross

Building: Mtskheta, Minor Church of the Holy Cross
Layer of the Murals: One Layer
Date/Period: The second half of 6th century
Donor(s): Unknown
Painter(s): Unknown
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of the Donor(s)
of the Painter(s)


The chancel conch and the face of the triumphal arch were decorated with mosaic in the minor church of the Holy Cross in Mtskheta. Together with gold smalt, pebbles of glazed clay and mountain crystal were used in mosaic decoration. Apart from golden pebbles, the mosaics was executed with reddish, pink, green, blue, olive-color, black and white ones.

Only old descriptions hold information about presence of mosaics in the minor church of the Holy Cross in Mtskheta. According to Giorgi Chubinashvili, in 1916, when he visited the church, gold pebbles had survived in the “north corner of the conch, on the face of the arch of the conch”; notches intended for holding the destroyed mosaic composition on the wall were still visible on two stones in the north section of the conch (surface of the rest of the stones in the conch had already been badly damaged and weathered by the time). According to the same account, in 1914, the smalt pebbles scattered in the interior were sent over to the Tbilisi Museum of Historical-Ethnographic Society by the local monk Ilarion (case N1649). The pebbles brought from the church of the Holy Cross are additional material evidence to the fact that the minor church of the Holy Cross in Mtskheta was once ornamented with mosaics.


Giorgi Chubinashvili, “Mtskhet’is jvaris mtsire tadzari” [Small Church of the Mtskhet’a Jvari], tfilisis universitetis moambe [Bulletin of the Tbilisi University] II (1922–1923): 39–40.

Giorgi Chubinashvili, Pamjatniki tipa Dzhvari [Monuments of the Jvari Type] (Tbilisi, 1948), 12.

Rene Shmerlingi, “Sakart’velos udzveles p’reskul mokhatulobat’a dat’arighebis sakit’khisat’vis”, [“Concerning the Dating of the Earliest Fresco Decorations in Georgia”], Kart’uli khelovnebis istoriis institutis VIII sametsniero sesia. mokhsenebat’a t’ezisebi [Abstracts of the 8th Session of the Institute of Georgian Art History] (Tbilisi, 1954), 10.

Tat’jana Shevjakova, Monumental’naja zhivopis’ rannego srednevekov’ja Gruzii [Monumental Painting of the Early Medieval Georgia] (Tbilisi, 1983), 5.

Nugzar Andghuladze, “Mtskhet’is jvari” [“Jvari of Mtskhet’a”], in Sak’art’velos istoriisa da kulturis dzeglt’a aghts’eriloba [The Survey of the Historical and Cultural Monuments of Georgia] 5 (Tbilisi, 1990), 249–50.

Zaza Skhirtladze, “Early Medieval Georgian Monumental Painting: Establishment of the System of Church Decoration”, Oriens Christianus 81 (1997): 169–70.