Sona the Sash-Wearer and Tbilisi’s Legendary Karachokhians
30 October, 2014
Sona the Sash-Wearer and Tbilisi’s Legendary Karachokhians
The history of Tbilisi is unimaginable without Karachokhians (Karachokhelebi). Their name is partially Turkic in origin; it is derived from the clothing they wore and translates as “clad in black chokhas.”

Karachokhians were representatives of the city’s lower class: they were ordinary workers and craftsmen who, nevertheless, had their own code of honor. In general, they were similar to guilds that existed in medieval Europe and also included tinkers of various kinds, although this is where the similarities end.
of old is unimaginable without Karachokhians’ raucous feasts and parties. They could be found in any of the city’s taverns or watering holes, as well as partying on rafts floating down Mtkvari River. They carried drinking goblets in public.
According to historian Elene Botsvadze, Karachokhians loved to party above all. They never held onto money that they got for their work, preferring to blow it on wine instead. The legend of a Karachokhian named Aleksa, who found a lot of money in Ortachala Garden used to be very popular in Tbilisi. Instead of saving the money, the Karachokhian treated his entire coterie to a feast that lasted for the entire week. Not a single workshop in Tbilisi worked that week, and regular citizens found themselves in dire straits because there were things that needed to be done, but the workers were all sitting at the tables and drinking themselves into a stupor.
It may seem unbelievable, but in the same period when women’s rights were still limited in Europe, a small footnote to a photo kept in Tbilisi Archive states the following: “Old Tbilisi’s Karachokhians didn’t count only men among their number – they also had a woman, named “Sona the Sash-Wearer.” The photo of a beautiful woman in a black dress is indeed titled “Sona the Sash-Wearer.” She has a Karachokhian’s sash wrapped around her graceful torso and holds a wine-filled vessel in her hand, in accordance with the tradition.
Besides being a full-fledged member of Karachokhians, Sona the Sash-Wearer was held in high respect in Tbilisi and her name was widely known. Sona was graceful, but gave off an air of purely masculine confidence and Karachokhian arrogance. Her voice was quite deep, too – whenever she took up a roller organ and started singing, few wouldn’t stop by to listen.
All eyes followed her whenever she walked down the street, although the sight of her sash was more than enough to fend off any unwanted suitors. If someone attempted courting her, she would put her one hand on her thigh, and hold his suitors with another, yelling curses that would make a sailor blush.
But Sona wasn’t only known for raucousness. Karachokhians were charitable people, and Sona’s virtue made her distinguished even among them. Due to her kind-heartedness and choice of attire, she was frequently dubbed “the black flag of peace”.
It is also said that in Sona’s earlier years, she used to be in love with a young Karachokhian, who contracted a potent disease and suffered an untimely death. Sona took the sash of her deceased love, wrapped it around her hips and declared that from now on, she is dead as a woman and that this sash and black dress are her only clothes now. On that day, Sona took her father’s roller organ and joined the ranks of Karachokhians.
She was also considered a patron of all who were in love – whenever a girl was angry at her beloved, Sona would calm her down and sometimes even talk her into forgetting her tears and eloping with her love instead.
It is not known how many of these legends are true, but the fact is that Sona did indeed walk the streets of Tbilisi once, carrying her roller organ.
Other Stories
Statues of famous people decorating Tbilisi
Statues and monuments remind passersby about history of the country and its prominent people.
Tsinandali Palace – The first European one in Georgia
There are several palaces of nobleman remained in Georgia. The majority of them were destroyed by different conquerors.
Stunning paintings of Rusudan Petviashvili
Rusudan Petviashvili is a Georgian painter. Her talent is recognized worldwide.
The Phaistos Disc decoded - Inscription on the clay plate is in ancient Georgian language
July 3 makes the 101st anniversary since the Phaistos Disc was discovered on the island of Crete.
Tbilisi at night seems so romantic and attractive
Every city changes its appearance at night. One may not even recognize the same city at night.
Royal palaces in Georgia – Part 2
Georgia, a small country in the south Caucasus, has a long-standing history. Georgian kings and queens used to live in royal residences.
Surami fortress and Lisi Lake captured by talented Georgian photographers
Georgian photographers Giorgi Shermazana and David Pix have captured one of the most beautiful places of Georgia through their cameras.
Royal palaces in Georgia - Part 1
Georgia, a small country in the south Caucasus, has a long-standing history. Georgian kings and queens used to live in royal residences.
Tbilisi in Autumn– beautiful places in the capital
Tbilisi is distinguished by its versatile architecture. There is an old part of the city full of historical buildings, churches and small houses with special carvings and typical balconies.
Keti Matabeli – One of the most interesting Georgian painters
Keti Matabeli is a Georgian painter. Her interesting works fascinate people all over the world.
Georgia - a holiday destination in the South Caucasus: Part  2
Georgia is a guest of honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2018. Due to the special occasion, various German journals write about Georgia.
Georgia: Europe in Asia, a guest of Honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair
The Frankfurt Book Fair which is one of the biggest and most significant cultural and intellectual events all over the world chose Georgia as a guest of honour of the 2018 fair.
Georgia - a holiday destination in the South Caucasus: Part 1
Germany's public international broadcaster Deutsche Welle reviews the culture and history of Georgia.
Tbilisoba to be held in October
The annual festival Tbilisoba will take place on the 6th and 7th of October.
Georgia reflected in the photos of Thomas Dworzak
Thomas Dworzak is a German photojournalist. He is a member of Magnum photos (an international photographic cooperative).
Swiss photographer’s photos show what did Georgia look like in 1993
The Swiss photographer DANIEL Spehr uploaded the photos of Georgia taken in 1993 on his Facebook last year.
Monastery of the Cross in Jerusalem
In ancient times religious centers were utilized for the cultural and educational purposes of the country.
American couple about living in Georgia
Georgian couple Katie and Brodie McClains have been living in Georgia for 4 years now with their children Luke, Anabelle and Maddy.
Georgian monasteries in Azerbaijan
Saingilo is a former province of the Kakheti kingdom, Georgia which is now situated in the territory of Azerbaijan.
Georgian Wine Festival 2018 kicks off for a second time on Shardeni Street
It is now the second year when small, medium and large Georgian wine companies will be given a chance to showcase their products through the Georgian Wine Festival.
Georgian Abbey in Bulgaria called Petritsoni
There are many sites of cultural heritage with the Georgian roots in other countries.
Must see places in Abkhazia
Abkhazia is situated in the northwestern region of Georgia. It covers 8,660 square kilometres (3,340 sq mi) and has a population of around 240,000.
Discover must see places in Shida Kartli
Shida kartli is located in the eastern part of Georgia. It includes the following towns: Gori, Tskhinvali, Kaspi, Kareli, Java and Khashuri.
A traveler advises to visit Kakheti for the Georgian wine tasting
A traveller Benjamin Kemper shares his impressions about Georgia, the wine country – on
The breathtaking cave in Martvili, named after a 35 year old deceased researcher
Geographer and a producer of organic wine from Samegrelo, Zaza Gagua published photos taken in one of the caves, located in Martvili Municipality on his “Facebook” page.
Exchange Rates
GEL Exchange Rate