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Georgian cloisonne enamel Minankari

Georgian cloisonne enamel Minankari

Icon made in the technique of Georgian cloisonne enamel Minankari

Georgian cloisonne enamel Minankari
Georgia is famous for its art of color and boundless energy. For many centuries it was amazing symbiosis of Georgian, European and Oriental influences. At the XIX century was the recovery and development of Georgian culture with the recreation of unique technology of the past and developing new. This happened with the famous jewelry – Georgian cloisonne enamel Minankari. This jewelry of amazing beauty hits with incredible subtlety of color solutions. Besides, the method itself remains unchanged for twelve centuries. And its cost is not less than jewelry made of precious metals and stones. Cloisonne – labor-intensive and complicated technique of enameling, not amenable to mechanization.

Georgian cloisonne enamel Minankari. Minankari - Georgian cloisonne enamel

Colorful Georgian cloisonne enamel

Georgian cloisonne enamel Minankari. Khakhuli triptych in detail

Detail of Khakhuli triptych

According to the earliest survived examples, the art of Georgian cloisonne enamel has no less than 1200 years of existence. Today, the once abandoned traditions are gaining immense importance, and people again and again turn to the ancient works. Without doubts, old technologies and new ways will eventually determine its rightful place in the development of Georgian culture.

Georgian cloisonne enamel Minankari

Khakhuli triptych of Gelati

The heyday of jewelry enamel falls on the Middle Ages. The center of this technology becomes Byzantium. But Georgia, as a neighbor, strongly influenced by the Byzantine culture, adopted this amazing technique. Already at that time the masters of enamel products give a unique Georgian underscore that we see today.

Georgian cloisonne enamel Minankari

A bowl. Minankari – Georgian cloisonne enamel

For centuries the land of Georgia was devastated with wars, monuments of early Christian art were destroyed, including outstanding masterpieces of cloisonne. And what managed to survive, is in the golden fund of the State Museum of Fine Arts, and some old works can be seen in Western Georgia (Svaneti, Kutaisi) as well. But still, the main collection, consisting of more than 200 items is in the State Museum of Art in Tbilisi.

Georgian cloisonne enamel Minankari

Traditional Minankari – Georgian cloisonne enamel

Of course, this is absolutely not the amount that describes the production of fine products for centuries. Examples of enamel were scattered in various churches and monasteries of Georgia, but many many things vanished without a trace. Some samples are in the Hermitage, the Metropolitan Museum and private collections.

Most of the existing monuments of cloisonne dated eighth to twelfth century, but despite such a venerable age, they didn’t loose their charm. Thanks to its incredibly high artistic value, Georgian cloisonne takes its rightful place among the world’s treasures. According to the researchers, the Georgian cloisonne – a worthy competitor to the Pala d’Oro, the golden altarpiece in the Basilica of St. Mark (Venice).

Georgian cloisonne enamel Minankari

Saint portrait. Minankari – Georgian cloisonne enamel

The Mother of God Icon made in the synthesis of several types of jewelry techniques – minting of gold, jewellery and enamel. However, from the image of the Mother of God survived the face and hands. From VIII to XII century masters adorned icon with precious stones. Besides, this masterpiece is the world’s largest cloisonne (116 × 95 cm), and it set up in the golden age of the history of Georgia.

Khakhuli triptych remained at Gelati Monastery, which was robbed in 1859. And as suggested, not without the help of the governor of Kutaisi. Most of the jewelry and gold disappeared from the triptych, and sold in Russia. Later on, the ex governor of Kutaisi Levashov authorized Moscow jeweler to remake metal triptych to pass it to the Gelati Monastery in 1863.

The original icon, as well as many of the decorations were in the private collection of Russian painter Mikhail Botkin, and then at the Hermitage. Only in 1923 the triptych returned to Georgia, though in a fragmented state. Khakhuli triptych is an exceptional example of the golden age of Georgian history and culture, representing the era of opulence and grandeur. Lockets (115 medallions) are small, except for the central image of the Virgin Mary, very badly damaged (except the hands and face saint). Furthermore, Khakhuli triptych is the greatest example of enamel (116 cm x 95 cm).

Georgian cloisonne enamel Minankari

Creation of icon. Georgian cloisonne enamel Minankari

In fact, enamel is thin glassy coating, obtained by melting the glass powders of different metals with impurities which gives different colors to the product itself.
Enamel paint is extremely difficult to use, because each color requires a certain temperature. Georgian enamel always distinguished its traditional colorful ornaments. Often, Georgian enamel uses such colors, as marsh and wine, and shades of green and red colors.

It’s nice that contemporary jewelers revive so beautiful and unusual art of our ancestors. There is a large number of artists who continue this noble art, and the Georgian enamel becomes extremely popular and recognized worldwide.

Minankari can be seen in Tbilisi in art galleries and souvenir bazaars, such as on the steps of the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences at the Shota Rustaveli Avenue

Tbilisi art galleries and souvenir bazaars, such as this one, on the steps of the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences at the Shota Rustaveli Avenue

One of the best places in Tbilisi, where you can buy enamel and other jewelry and accessories made of silver, gold, precious and semi-precious stones, antiques – Saturday Flea Market – Market at Sukhoi Bridge and its surroundings. One of the reasons why foreign tourists arrive in Georgia – a unique, very original jewelry of the highest quality, sold at a low price.

Georgian cloisonne enamel Minankari