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Georgia marks 180th anniversary of great public figure Ilia Chavchavadze
08 November, 2017
November 8 marks the birthday of Ilia Chavchavadze, outstanding Georgian writer, poet, publicist and the leader of Georgia’s national liberation movement.

Ilia Chavchavadze was born 180 years ago, in 1837, in the village of Kvareli, Georgia’s Kakheti Region. He spearheaded the revival of the Georgian national movement in the second half of the 19th century, during the Russian rule of Georgia. His contribution to Georgian culture and language is significant. Ilia was one of the founders of the Society for the Spreading of Literacy among Georgians. The Society ran a network of schools, bookshops and libraries throughout the country; trained teachers, and sponsored Georgian-language journals and magazines.



Ilia was well-known for his ultimate patriotism and nationalism. The three main ethnic markers of Georgian identity, according to Chavchavadze, consisted of language, homeland and faith.

Inspired by the contemporary liberal movements in Europe, as a writer and a public figure, Chavchavadze directed much of his efforts toward awakening national ideals in Georgians and to the creation of a stable society in his homeland.

His most important literary works are: The Hermit, The Ghost, Otaraant Widow, Kako The Robber, Happy Nation, Latters of a Traveller and Is a man a human?!. He was editor-in-chief of the periodicals Sakartvelos Moambe (1863–77) and Iveria (1877–1905), and authored numerous articles for journals.

Ilia was a devoted protector of the Georgian language and culture from Russification (a form of cultural assimilation process during which non-Russian communities, voluntarily or not, give up their culture and language in favor of the Russian one).

In 1875, Ilia Chavchavadze was elected the president of Manorial Estate Bank which, during his presidency, transformed into the Georgia National Bank.



Chavchavadze was deadly wounded in Tsitsamuri, outside Mtskheta, by the group of six armed men. They killed Chavchavadze and managed to escape. His legacy earned him the broad admiration of the Georgian people.

In 1987 he was canonized as Saint Ilia the Righteous by the Georgian Orthodox Church. Today, Georgians refer Chavchavadze as The Uncrowned King and the Father of Nation.

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