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Archive for August, 2009

Model of a Svan tower in Khaishi (Kvemo Kartli)

Model of a Svan tower in Khaishi (Kvemo Kartli)

In these days I am conducting field research mostly in Svan villages in the region of Kvemo Kartli. The Svans settled in this region after major landslides or projects to build a barrage forced them to leave their homes in the mountains. The villages like Khaishi or Chivchavi were created around twenty years ago. Some Svans, which I interview with my assistant Sandro Shanidze, say that their traditional legal structure is very important in their new villages. The police say that this is not at all the case and that traditional law is only practiced in the mountains. Other people argued in the first or the second direction. In an interview with a former judge and notary (together with the assistant Tatia Khutsishvili) we were told that in Svan villages often local elders (machvi) are being elected as mayor/local representative (gamgebeli). The official administrative structure meets here the traditional. In the text days I will try to explore more this relationship. – The purpose of our short visits in the different villages of Kvemo Kartli is to find one or two villages which will be at the centre of my research next year.

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Peristsavereba

tsiala

Tsiala K. in Kinoti, near Zestaponi (Imereti) prepares a table in honour of the deceased relatives

On the 19th of August “peristsvareba” is celebrated. It is a religious celebration which marks the change of summer to winter. The word means “transfiguration” or literally “change of colours”. Peristvareba has strong connections to pre-Christian traditions. In theory, nobody should work on this day. Like on other religious celebrations it is also remembered death people. The table on the picture was prepared in honour of the deceased relatives. There are only fruits on the table (maize and pumpkins are not considered as vegetables but as fruits).

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In the last weeks we were numerous times around the little town Tetri Tskaro in the region Kvemo Kartli. Our aims were to conduct first interviews but we were also looking for a suitable place to stay. From mid-August on we are planning to start our field study in the region. Unfortunately the places we were able to admire in the last two weeks were mostly inconvenient (just to put nicely).

Yesterday we went again to Asureti, the former German village called “Elisabetthal” (see below). With the help of a friend we finally managed to find a good accommodation until the end of September. So, the Germans are coming back, did mention this friend in Asureti. Elke and I are indeed planning, besides our main research topic, to question the people in “Elisabetthal” on the German past of the village.

Asureti is in a very good position because it allows easily day-trips to some for our research interesting places, like to Khaishi, Tetri Tskaro or Tsalka. From August, 15 we will be in Asureti.

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