Interesting Places, Culture, History
19 March, 2020
Georgian alphabet is one of the oldest in the world and it is among the world's 14 alphabets. On November 30, 2016, UNESCO added Georgian alphabet to the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. There is no exact dating source for the introduction of Georgian script. XI century Georgian historian - Leonti Mroveli attributes to Parnavaz I (III century BC) the creation of the Georgian alphabet and the proclamation of the Georgian language as the state language: “He developed the Georgian language and there was no other languages except Georgian in Kartli: He created Georgian erudition”. Among the Georgian inscriptions known to date, the oldest is the inscription on the Georgian monastery of Palestine or Bir El Qutt, dated 430 years, The inscriptions are kept at the museum of the Franciscanum in Jerusalem. However, during the archaeological excavations at Nekresi settlement, tiles with inscriptions were found. The inscriptions are being studied and there are well-grounded assumptions that they may be dated to the pre-Christian period. There are three types of Georgian alphabet: Mtavruli, Nuskhuri and Mkhedruli. The oldest of them is Mtavruli. Each has a distinctive graphic style, however in terms of outline variability of the letters, Nuskhuri is the result of the development of Asomtavruli, and Mkhedruli - of Nuskhuri. Examples of Nuskhuri writing appear from the IX century, but the complete manuscripts performed in Nuskhuri exist only from the XII century. Along with Nuskhuri, Asomtavruli was used for epigraphic inscriptions, also in the manuscripts for performance the titles and capital letters. Nuskhuri writing is still used in ecclesiastical literature. The modern Georgian alphabet is called Mkhedruli and examples of this date from the XI century. There are 33 letters in the modern Georgian alphabet. In the ancient alphabet there were 38 letters, 5 of which were no longer used after the reform of Ilia Chavchavadze (Georgian writer, poet, publicist, public figure). These 5 letters were removed from the alphabet as they were no longer used in the Georgian language. It should also be noted that the sounds mentioned by these letters are still present in Kartvelian languages and dialects, such as Khevsuruli, Pshauri, Svan and others. In 1728, Nikoloz Tbileli created uppercase letters for the Mkhedruli script, “Mtavruli” letters produced from Mkhedruli. “Mkhedrulis Mtavruli” letters are used in the headings and to convey important information. It is noteworthy that, unlike other bicameral script, the combination of Mtavruli and Mkhedruli letters within a single word is not accepted in Georgian. Until the XVIII century Georgia used letters of the alphabet to record numbers. One of the unique features of Georgian script is that the text is read exactly as it is written. The Georgian alphabet also draws attention with its beauty. A sophisticated, rhythmic graphic outline looks very aesthetically pleasing. The importance of red ink in Georgian manuscripts is also noteworthy. The key words of the text were highlighted in red, the most important phrases, which, along with their functional purpose, added a decorative element to the manuscript. In manuscript editions of Vepkhistqaosani (The Knight in the Panther's Skin) (the most important Georgian poem of the Renaissance), the first words of each strophe and the first letter of each line are written in red ink. The first Georgian printed Georgian book, The Georgian Alphabet with Prayers, was published in 1629 in Rome. Nikoloz Cholokashvili, who served as Ambassador of Teimuraz I to Italy, wrote the Georgian font for this book. The first printing house in Georgia was founded in 1708-1709, during the reign of Vakhtang VI and it is called Vakhtang VI printing press.