Tushetian Shepherds
25 October, 2015
Tushetian Shepherds
Every year, the shepherds of Tusheti come dozens of kilometers from Kakheti or from further parts of Georgia. They live in villages where their ancestors once lived, in old houses scattered between defense towers, most of them incapable of providing shelter in winter. They stay there until the weather lets them to safely go with their herds back into the valley before snowfall. Sometimes they come here with their families, which stay in the villages while they graze their livestock;
sometimes they go alone. Only a few Tushetians decide to actually stay for the winter.

Shepherds begin to descend from the mountains in early October. Most frequently the return date is determined by the weather. When there is a threat of winter coming faster than usual, they get very little time to gather their belongings and embark on a several-day-long journey with their families or other shepherds. Frequently the shepherds opt to have women, children, family belongings, dairy products and leather taken to their destination in large off-road vehicles, capable of crossing the most dangerous pass in Caucasus. Smaller things that come in handy during the trip are transported on horseback, and the shepherds themselves travel on foot.geotv.ge

In times of old, Tushetians stayed in their mountains in winter, which not only thinned their herds significantly, but was also a threat to their families. The situation changed after 1659, when the Tushetians helped their Kakhetian brethren by contributing fighters to help win a victory over the Persians at the Battle of Bakhtrioni.

According to the legend, the king wanted to reward the loyalty of the “mountain people” by offering them gold, weapons and land. Zezva, the Tushetian leader, asked only for his people to be given land in the Alazani Valley, where they would be able to wait the harsh mountain winters out. The king agreed, ruling that highlanders would be given as much land as Zezva could cover on his horse in one day. He set off from Bakhtrioni at a gallop through the mountains and reached today’s Alvani, near Alaverdi. There his horse died from exhaustion. To this day, to commemorate the legend, the Tushetian people take a toast in honor of the horse, which gave its life for an opportunity to go down into the valley during winter.

In isolation from the rest of Georgia for many years, Tusheti has developed a distinct culture, and its traditions survive to this day, seamlessly interweaving Pagan and Christian beliefs. One of the elements of Tushetian custom is the strict division of roles between men and women. Only men have the right to perform religious rituals, and women, seen as unclean, have no right to even enter holy grounds and shrines. During local festivities, one can observe a multitude of customs and traditions come alive, such as Caucasian race riding, playing, dances and even a symbolic punishment of throwing unmarried men over a wall – the amusing highlight of the day in some villages. Look for the full story on the unique customs of Tusheti in our next issue!

Author: Magdalena Konik

geotv.ge

geotv.ge

geotv.ge

geotv.ge

Print
Other Stories
Goderdzi winter resort-  "white pearl" in Adjara, Georgia
Georgian winter resorts attract numerous tourists all over the world. Goderdzi Pass is among the must-see winter resorts in Georgia.
Gona – little Switzerland in Racha, Georgia
Gona is a small village in Oni Municipality, in the region of Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti.
Escape to the country: Visit Lagodekhi
Only a two-and-a-half-hours drive away from Tbilisi hides the small city of Lagodekhi at the foot of the Great Caucasian Mountains.
Bateti Lake in Winter vs. in Autumn
One of the most gifted Georgian photographers Giorgi Shermazanashvili (Shermazana) captured Bateti Lake in two different seasons of year.
What connects the Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun and the first Europeans Mzia and Zezva?
What connects the Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun with the first Europeans Mzia and Zezva?
Best low budget accommodations in Tbilisi
Seven hostels are nominated for the Georgian National Tourism Awards.
9th April and Giorgi Leonidze Parks in Tbilisi
What makes Tbilisi more beautiful is its green covers – years old parks.
Cattle drive in the Great Caucasian Mountains in Georgia
Every year in autumn shepherds in Tusheti leave the mountain pastures and descent into the valleys.
Key words and life-enriching sentences to use in Georgia
If you plan a trip to Georgia you might want to learn a couple of expressions and sentences in Georgian as they might make your stay even more rewarding.
10 most attractive destinations for tourists in Georgia
Tourism is one of the most important parts of Georgian economy. Number of tourists increase year to year in Georgia.
Georgia in winter – a new holiday experience
Spring, summer and autumn, these are the main tourist seasons in Georgia. But have you ever thought about visiting in winter and hit the ski slope?
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.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Exchange Rates
GEL Exchange Rate
Convertor
08.12.2018
09.12.2018
USD
1
USD
2.6682
2.6682
EUR
1
EUR
3.0324
3.0324
GBP
1
GBP
3.4009
3.4009
RUB
100
RUB
3.9852
3.9852