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Murq’meli, Murals of the Church of Savior

Building: Murq'meli, Church of Savior ("Matskhvar")
Layer of the Murals: One Layer
Date/Period: The second half of 11th century
Donor(s): Unknown
Painter(s): Unknown
Building Gallery


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


The interior of the church must have been fully painted. Presently only fragments of the painting have been preserved.



In the conch the painting is almost completely obliterated. A young, beardless, frontal figure with lowered left hand and presumably holding an object in his right hand can be observed on the western intrados of the chancel arch. Apparently, it is a figure of an angel/archangel.



The west corner of the south wall of the hall represents the Descent into Hell; only fragments of the Savior’s body and two crowned figures on His right (west), presumably, holy prophets David and Solomon, have survived.

Painting on the north wall is completely obliterated. Only a fragment of a saint’s face has survived on the western area of the vault.

On the west wall the painting is distributed in two registres which are separated from each other by a folded ornament; in the first registre the three-figured scene of the Ascension is depicted above the window. There are two compositions in the lower registre. They are not separated with a registre line and are almost merged. The Crucifixion (ႿႥ()ႰႺ[ႫႠჂ] Crucifixion) is depicted on the southern section; on the right (north) of crucified Christ is a female figure holding a jug and collecting Christ’s blood and water – it is a symbolic representation of the church. Next to her is the Virgin. On the left (south) of Christ’s figure is St. John the Baptist, presumably, with bread in his hand; a Roman soldier can also be observed behind the Apostle.

The Nativity is depicted in the northern part of the second registre (ႬႠႧႪ(Ⴈ)ႱႠ||ႶႤႡႠჂ | Ⴢ(ႤႱ)Ⴓ Ⴕ(ႰႨႱႲ)ႤႱჂBaptism of Jesus Christ). The dove – the Holy Spirit – descending from the sky has communion bread in its beak.


Ek’vt’ime Taq’aishvili, Ark’eologiuri ekspeditsia lechkhum-svanet’shi 1910 tsels (Parizi, 1937), 158–9; Reprinted in id., Tkhzulebani [Collected Studies] 2 (Tbilisi, 2017), 156.

Ekaterine Privalova, “Murq’melis ‘matskhvaris’ mokhatuloba ushgulshi” [“Paintings of the Murq’meli Church of Saviour in Ushguli”], Dzeglis megobari [Monument’s Friend] 29 (1972): 31–9.

Natela Aladashvili, Gajane Alibegashvili, Aneli Volskaja, Zhivopisnaja shkola Svaneti [The Painting School of Svaneti] (Tbilisi, 1983), 23–7.

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), 43.