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Zemo Krikhi, Murals of the Church of Holy Archangels. First Layer

Building: Zemo Krikhi, Church of Holy Archangels
Layer of the Murals: First Layer
Date/Period: The second half of the 10th century
Donor(s): Unknown
Painter(s): Unknown
Building Gallery


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


Originally, in the interior of the church only the chancel and, probably, the east wall were painted. Reddish-orange and light grey colors in combination with carved ornament (floral and geometrical patterns) and relief zoomorphic ones painted without plaster formed an aniconic décor.

Imitation of fabric – the motif with peacocks and ornaments (these images had been covered with the frieze of the step-like ornament of the second layer of the painting) was executed with a black thin contour against grey background along the whole width of the north pilaster of the triumphal arch (on the area next to the image of St. Catherine in the painting of the second layer). As these images are destroyed by now, special importance is attached to the description of this layer of the painting provided by Tinatin Virsaladze: proper lighting made it possible to identify miniature images of peacocks neatly executed on the grey background under the fret ornament bordering the painting of the second layer from below. The section free from the plastering of the second layer exhibited a small-size image of a peacock with its wings spread wide and its beak turned right. The wings, tail and tips of the wings were painted red. On the left, a female peacock facing left was depicted on the back of the spread wing. A baby bird facing the opposite side was sitting on her back with one of its wings spread out. These figures were much smaller than that of the male peacock. On the right one could observe a group different by the nature of drawing, or, perhaps, lines of the peacock’s tail open fan-like.

Another composition, probably depicting a pair of peacocks standing in profile on both sides of the column could be observed under the fret ornament. The upper part of the column, as well as the peacocks’ heads and upper parts of their tails spread fan-like were covered with the second layer of painting. The thin, almost transparent images of the birds were drawn with black paint and a pen-like device against grey background.

It is presumed that the column that had been placed between the upper pair of the peacocks and is partly covered by the upper layer of the painting could be a wooden stem or the lower arm of a cross. It is not excluded that an analogous composition used to embellish another, southern pilaster situated near the chancel.


Tinatin Virsaladze, “Freskovaja rospis’ v tcerkvi arkhangelov sela Zemo Krikhi” [“Murals of the Archangels Church in the village Zemo Krikhi”], Ars Georgica 6-A (1963): 157–63, sch. 7; Reprinted in Id., Izbrannye trudy [Collected Studies] (Tbilisi, 2007), 84–91, drawing on p. 91.

Tat’jana Shevjakova, Monumental’naja zhivopis’ rannego srednevekov’ja Gruzii [Monumental Painting of the Early Medieval Georgia] (Tbilisi, 1983), 13.

Zaza Skhirtladze, “Sakart’veloshi anikonur mokhatulobat’a arsebobis problemisat’vis” [“Towards the Issue of the Aniconic Decorations in Georgia”], khelovnebat’mtsodneoba [Studies in Art History] 6 (2005): 198.