Georgian artist’s works on Mount Athos monasteries
16 August, 2016
Georgian artist’s works on Mount Athos monasteries
After 150 year break, Georgian liturgy tradition was restored on Mount Athos and it is today performed by archimandrite Grigol. It has already been several years since Nikoloz Badurashvili arrived at Mount Athos and soon the new door made by him will replace the 500-year-old main door of Dionysiou Monastery. ‘It has been 20 years since I first began to work on the wood. During all this period, I tried to change my profession several times but eventually I realized
that this was the only thing I wanted to do’, - the artists tells me.
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- In 2000, when the Tbilisi’s Holy Trinity Cathedral was finished and the works on the wood had begun, my friends and I decided to engage in those activities. We were so excited that we did not even care whether we would be paid or not. We were working and studying at the same time. It was in that period that I met my future confessor – father Jakob Ushikishvili and I began a new life. I traveled to many places and saw many monasteries. I also met father Gabriel Javelidze, who later went to Mount Athos and sent me an invitation. So I e went there as a pilgrim. When they saw my works there, they settled my documents and helped me to stay. For the first three years I worked at Zografou Bulgarian Monastery and I made two iconostases. Then I moved to Vatipedi Monastery.

On the tower of this monastery there is a 300-year-old clock and a monument of a man with a sword. The man is also holding a hammer and an iron plate. Every half an hour he hits the hammer on the plate and reminds us that we are mortal. So, this work was replaced by a new one, made by me, that is its exact replica and its height is 2 meters.
geotv.ge

- Do you copy older works or create new ones on their basis?

- I copy the originals, which are then kept in museums. Here every monastery has its own museum. From Vatopedi I moved to Dionysiou Monastery. Here I have three close friends – Vano Odishelashvili, Ioseb Tabatadze and Malkhaz Shamanauri. Two of them are goldsmiths and one is a wood worker. They introduced me to a priest named Simeon who loves art. When he saw my works, he asked me If I wanted to make a new door for Dionysiou Monastery. The current door is 500 years old and it is very much damaged. Dionysiou Monastery was built in 15th century and is fifth among the oldest churches of Athos Mountain. 1. Great Lavra (Greek monastery), 2. Vatopedi, 3. Iviron (It was Georgian but now it’s Greek), 4. Helandariou, 5. Dionysiou.

I began to work on the new door 2 years ago. This is the central door of the monastery. Over the centuries, its size was increasing, so the masters were adding more ornaments. These ornaments are very alike but if you look closer, they differ significantly. Mainly these are Byzantine ornaments but there are also oriental ones. The height of the door is 2.85 meters and the width is 1.2 meters. Each wing is 60 centimeters wide. Now we are in the process of painting and gold-plating. The door itself is made of oak and the ornaments are made on pear. The old door is made of the same materials. They also allowed me to crave my initials in Georgian.
geotv.ge

- Tell us about your family...

- I met my future wife, Tamar Chkhikvadze, in a church. We have the same confessor, father Jakob. She and our children now live in Tbilisi. I come back home every 6 months.

- Do you have many offers?

- Yes and I do not accept some of them if I see that I will not be able to meet the deadline. Simonos Petras Monastery asked me to make two iconostases. The talks are underway with Iviron monastery as well. It has always been 150 years since the last Georgian master worked there. The Mount Athos is also called The Garden of the Holy Godmother. Today 17 Georgian nuns live in these monasteries.

- What feeling did you have when you first came here?

- It was like being in a fairy tale. The Russians, Serbs and Bulgarians often contact me and when they realize I am Georgian, they all begin to shout Iviron! Iviron! They know that was a Georgian monastery.
geotv.ge
Mount Athos

Mount Athos is a peninsula that is possible to reach only by boat. There is an automobile road but it is closed, only opening if very necessary. The architecture is medieval and older.

The first monastery, Great Lavra, was built in 9th century. The length of Mount Athos is 96 kilometers and the widest place is 17 kilometers. Overall, there are 20 monasteries and 17 of them are Greek. Serbs, Bulgarians and Russians each have one monastery. Georgian Iviron Monastery is now in the hands of the Greek and Georgian inscriptions on the frescoes are almost completely destroyed. However, there are numerous important Georgian items at their museum. Namely, there is Tornike Eristavi’s armour. The Iviron Monastery was built by his donations and besides, Tornike Eristavi himself took the vow here, in 10th century. There is a very rich library too, with some very valuable icons.

By Eka Salagaia
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