Ekvtime Takaishvili – The Man of God and guardian of Georgia’s treasure
20 January, 2016
Ekvtime Takaishvili – The Man of God and guardian of Georgia’s treasure
The historian, archaeologist and public figure - January marks Ekvtime Takaishvili’s 153rd birthday. His contribution in Georgian history is immeasurable.

Ekvtime Takaishviliwas born on January 5, 1863, in Likhauri, Guria region. In 1887 he graduated from History & Philology department of Saint Petersburg University and returned home as a Philosophy Doctor.

Ekvtime Takaishvili was pursuing an active scientific, pedagogical and public career and thought that his duty was to collect materials for historical and archaeological researches in Georgia.

In 1907, Ekvtime founded the ‘Historic and Ethnographic Society of Georgia’, which, in several years, collected a very significant number of materials.

Apart from that, Takaishvili fought for the restoration of autocephaly of Georgian Orthodox Church and made a great contribution in founding Tbilisi State University in 1918.
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In 1921, when Soviet troops invaded Tbilisi, the Menshevik government of Georgia was evacuated to France and they took with them the historically and culturally valuable treasure, as well as manuscripts. The national treasure was accompanied by Ekvtime Takaishvili and that’s where his biggest mission began.
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Treasure saved by Ekvtime Takaishvili
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St. George icon. 11th century

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Living in France, Takaishvili went on with his scientific activities. In 1922, he was elected a member of Paris Numismatic Society and in 1925 – a member of Oriental Society of France. In 1937-1939, Takaishvili was a chairman of a foundation that he himself founded. It was called ‘The Georgian Cultural and Archaeological Materials Publishing’. Apart from that, he was a member of editorial council of a magazine called Georgica. However, while living in France, Ekvtime Takaishvili’s main goal was to preserve the Georgian national treasure and the treasure really needed protection. British and American museums were interested in purchasing the items and the widow of Count Obolensky, Georgian princess, Salome Dadiani claimed she was the only true heiress of the treasure. She even started a legal action against Takaishvili. During WWII, the Nazis searched the apartment of Takaishvili but found nothing. Later, the French government claimed the treasure should have been given to the Louvre museum. In 1935, the Georgian government in exile officially entrusted the treasure to Ekvtime Takaishvili.

Takaishvili was living in very poor conditions. In 1931, his wife, Nino died. Already very old, Ekvtime was left alone. Many times he was on the verge of death, but the word given to God and his people gave him power to survive.
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In 1945, when the allied
forces took victory in WWII, it was time to return to Georgia and bring back the treasure. After an agreement between France and the Soviet Union, the treasure was loaded to the American plane and was flown to Tbilisi. Takaishvili also returned to his homeland.

The plane touched down at Tbilisi airport on April 11, 1945. When Ekvtime stepped on Georgian soil, he looked at the sky, then kneeled and kissed the earth.

He was restored at the Tbilisi State University, was elected as a member of the Academy. In later years he made several public speeches. In 1951, the Soviet regime began to oppress Takaishvili. His adopted daughter, Lida Poltoiratskaya was arrested and in 1952 Ekvtime himself was fired from the university.
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This made a serious negative impact on Takaishvili and in February 1953, just a month before Joseph Stalin’s death, he died of cardiac arrest.

In 2002, the congress of Georgia’s Holy Synod canonized him as Ekvtime the Man of God and a medal in his honor was founded. In 2008, the Ekvtime the Man of God Church was built in Tbilisi.
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The Icon of St Ekvtime the Man of God

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