Gurian men performing polyphonic song while distilling Georgian Chacha
02 March, 2018
A lovely and touching video that has recently gone viral on social network has attracted massive interest among users.

The footage features elderly men in Georgia’s Guria region singing a polyphonic folk song while distilling Chacha (Georgian vodka). Their heartwarming and sincere performance has accumulated many likes and positive comments.

Tradition of distilling Chacha (Georgian vodka) has existed for centuries in Georgia similarly to the old winemaking culture.
Tradition of distilling Chacha has existed for centuries in Georgia. Photo courtesy
National Museum of Georgia

Chacha is a Georgian pomace brandy, a clear and strong which is sometimes called "vine vodka", "grape vodka", or "Georgian vodka/grappa". It is made of grape pomace (grape residue left after making wine). The term chacha is used in Georgia to refer to grape distillate. It may be also produced from unripe or wild grapes.

Production of vodka is directly related to viticulture and winemaking in Georgia since it is considered the cradle of wine. As a rule, the distillation ritual takes place in autumn, during the harvest season.

Distilling Chacha is a kind of ritual in Georgia’s Guria Region, one of the amazing regions of the west Georgia, standing out from others by its uniqueness, beautiful landscape and people.
Distilling Chacha is a kind of ritual in Georgia’s Guria Region

The tradition of distilling Chacha is quite friendly and pleasant process for the inhabitants of Guria Region. It includes inviting neighbors for help, tasting Chacha together with friends, singing traditional polyphonic Gurian songs and telling funny stories as they have good mood after tasting strong Georgian vodka several times.

Moreover, Guria boasts its polyphonic songs such as Krimanchuli, Khasanbegura, Naduri, Mival Guriashi, Sisona Darchia, Chven Mshvidoba, Gurian Mravaljamieri, Shavi Shashvi, Gurian Alilo (The Georgian version of a Christmas carol), Shvidkaca, etc. Gurian polyphonic songs are quite famous throughout the whole country.

Guria boasts its polyphonic songs

However, the most popular Gurian polyphonic songs are Guruli Krimanchuli, Khasanbegura and Gurian Mravaljamieri.

Guruli Krimanchuli is widely known song in Georgia. While listening to this song, you feel positive energy coming from funny and talented Gurians (residents of Guria). “Krimanchuli” perfectly expresses its vibrant and energetic nature. The song is quite beautiful and pleasant to listen though.

Khasanbegura is the unique song due to its historical and vocal aspects. It was written during 1853-56 Russian-Turkish war and describes how Islamized traitor Georgian commander Khasanbeg Tavdgiridze entered Georgia with Turkish regular army and how he was defeated by a small number of local volunteers and some Russian troops. As for vocal aspect, this song has 5 voices (which is unique in the world) and it contains yodeling, making this song more interesting.

Mravalzhamieri is a Georgian folk song, the title and the one-word text of which can be translated as "[may you live] a long life". It is a popular and widespread toasting song, with dozens of different versions from the countryside of both eastern and western parts of Georgia. However, Gurian version of Mravalzhamieri is standing out from the others by its unique performance.

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