Iberiana – იბერია გუშინ, დღეს, ხვალ

სოჭი, აფხაზეთი, სამაჩაბლო, დვალეთი, ჰერეთი, მესხეთი, ჯავახეთი, ტაო-კლარჯეთი იყო და მუდამ იქნება საქართველო!!!

• Tao-Klardjeti-II

 

V. Silogava, R. Shengelia

 Tao-Klardjeti

 Tbilisi – 2006

 

Chapter IV

 EPARCHY OF TBETI

  

The Eparchy of Tbeti involved historical Shavsheti, which is in South-West Georgia and is now a territory of Turkey. The eparchy centre was the village of Tbeti, at present called “Jivizli” (means “of nuts” in Turkish).

 It is founded in the end of the 9th and the beginning of the 10th century by Ashot Kuhi (918) Eristavteritavi (Governor of governors) who governed the region after the death of Gurgen Kurapalati. The 11th century Georgian historian Sumbat Davitisdze informs: “Ashot Eristavt-eristavi, the son of Gurgen Kurapalati, surnamed Kuhi, built Tbeti in Shavsheti and inspired by Holy Ghost appointed the blessed Stepane as its first bishop”1. 

The name of this place and eparchy, Tbeti, surely is connected with the lake (lake in Georgian is “tba”) and means laky place or place rich in lakes. There are numerous geographical names, generated from the word “tba”, in various regions of Georgia; sometimes they are complex (e.g. Tskaltubo), while in most cases they are simple words (e.g. Tba – in Borjomi region, or Tbeti – in Java, Shuakhevi, Ambrolauri, Sokhumi, Tskhinvali and other regions). Describing Tbeti of Shavsheti, Vakhushti Batonishvili mentions that “it got its name from small but many lakes”2.

Tbeti bishops are called “Mtbevari”; the word is divided thus: M-tb-ev-ar-i; ev – is plural number suffix, ar – Megrelian – Chan suffix (as in the words: Opizari, Khakhulari, Olitisari, Slesari, Otari…), and “m” shows origin in the Old Georgian language (e.g. Megvipteli, Machabeli…), remaining “tb” is the stem of the word3.

 Tbeli is also generated from Tbeti. Tbeli differs in meaning and designation from Mtbevari. Some scholars consider Tbeli and Mtbevari being identical and the term meaning bishop of Shavsheti. But, in reality, the term “Mtbevari” means bishop and Tbeli points to origin of a person, be he a clergyman or a civilian, i.e. Tbeli means the person comes from Tbeti (e.g. David Tbeli, Anton Tbeli, etc). “The Tbelis” was a powerful feudal family of the noblemen in the 9th-11th cc in Georgia (Georgian Soviet Encyclopedia, 9, p 680). Later Tbeti turned into a proper noun (see: Tbel Abuserisdze, the 13th cent., who is wrongly considered to be a bishop of Tbeti4, etc). 

The document of the beginning of the 16th cent. “Bishops and flocks of Cathalicos in Samtskhe- Saatabago” determines Mtbevari’s flock as follows: “above Dakhatula, below Anakerti, entire Shavshheti with Michikhi… Adjara above Dandalo belonged to him, below it to Kutateli5. Vakhushti Batonishvili (1696-1757) informs” it was a seat of bishop, the pastor of upper Anakerti, of the entire Shavsheti and Artanuji6. Therefore, Artanuji, the capital of Tao-Klarjeti kingdom, founded in the 5th century by Vakhtang Gorgasali was in the parish of Tbeti bishop. This points to its significance and influence. As it seems Vakhushti Batonishvili is mistaken here, because Klarjeti with Artanuji was the parish of Ancheli. 

Mtbevari is most respected among the other Georgian bishops, i.e. among 36 bishops of East and South Georgia he is on the 12th place in the ceremony of enthroning according to the 13th cent. “Gangeba Darbazobisa” (Ceremonial etiquette); he occupies the place between Ancheli and Tsurtsqabeli7. He is also highly respected among the Samtskhe-Saatabago bishops, here he occupies the 5th place among the 13 bishops of this region8.

The Tbeti temple of the 10th century is the most prominent monument of Georgian architecture (fig. 16,17,18). It was a big cruciform domed structure; with its architectural forms, decoration, ornamented décor and high-skilled fresco art it made a grand sight9. The dome of the church, which was in its initial form nearly up to the present days, was completely broken in 1961; the northwestern arm and the arch of the church were destroyed. The destruction was caused by the local population who used the church stones for construction works (the information is presented by French art critics N. and M. Thierry, who visited the Tbeti church in 1967 to survey and study it on site10). That’s why only the photos preserve its initial forms and grandeur11(fig.16). 

According to the folklore, Shota Rustaveli, the author of the grand poem “Knight in the Panther’s Skin”, was brought up in Tbeti monastery12. The 19th century renowned Georgian historian D.Bakradze (1826-1890) thought that another outstanding Georgian poet Ioane Shavteli was from Tbeti as, in his opinion, “Shavteli” is a shortned form of “Shavsheteli”13.

 Numerous remarkable monuments of Georgian literature, art, goldsmith and culture, are connected with Tbeti. Mtbevari bishops were outstanding hierarchs of Georgian church, who have largely contributed to not only spiritual but political and cultural life of the country at various stages of its development.

 In the cathedral church of Tbeti, There was a relief of Ashot Kuhi, who have been a builder of temple and a founder of Eparchy. (the sizes: 113*36*10 cm.)14 . This relief was put in the southnorthern support-pillar of a cupola. Now it is kept in Georgian state museum of art(fig.19,20).

 Besides that Ashot Kuhi began to build the new church in Khandzta (A Father-Superior at that moment was Arsen and the architect – Amona). The new church was accompished by a nephew of Kuhi – “great king” Gurgen in the time of Father Superior Iowane, brother of Jibril15. It seems, that it is the church which excist in nowdays at Porta (Khandzta), but today it is seriously damaged and partly destroyd. 

The first bishop of Tbeti was “the blessed Stepane” Mtbevari, “inspired by Holy Ghost” and appointed by Eristavteristavi Ashot Kuhi. No one knows when he started and how long he continued his bishop activities. It is known that Ashot Kuhi died in 918 and Stepane can be bishop in the end of the 9th and beginning of the 10th centuries, in any case, in the first twenty years. Stepane Mtbevari is said to be the author of the splendid monument of the old Georgian hagiographic literature “Martyrdom of Gobroni”16. The work reached us in many manuscripts17. the earliest among them being copied in 1713 (Inst. of Manuscripts, A-130) by Gabriel Saginashvili on the order of Domenti cathalicos (1705-1741)18. There is an inscription added to the work under its title: “I, Bishop Stepane Mtbevari wrote it on the order of Ashot Eristavteristavi”19.

 The work tells about a 914 campaign of Arab commander Abul-Kasim in Georgia and Armenia. He ravaged and razed to the ground both countries, imprisoned and ordered to kill King Sumbat of Armenia by quartering. After raiding Kartli and Javakheti, “when he faced strong resistance (of Tmogvi fortress), left it and came to attack Queli” (fortreess)20.

 At that time there were in Queli fortress noblemen and one prince who was “called first Mikel and then Gobron”. Finally, after hot battles and strongest resistance of Georgians, Mikel-Gobroni was captured and taken to the Arab commander. He demanded from him to reject Christ and adopt Muhammadanism. Mikel-Gobron refused to do so and he was beheaded in 914. Acad K.Kekelidze was right when determined the work was written by Stepane Mtbevari in 914-91821. In K.Kekelidze’s opinion, “Stepane described the then political situation in brief but vividly and distinctly. Arabs’ raids, their number, armament, siege, massacre of Christians… all this is represented so vividly that even the best historian may feel envy”22. The author makes frequent use of artistic images and comparisons, which makes evident significant importance of the work. For example, when describing troubles the Christians were then facing, the author writes that they “like locusts atë leaves and greens of the country”23.

 Naturally, the 10th century author’s thinking is providential – invasions, ravages, wars are considered to be God’s anger for people’s malice. Namely, ravage of Armenia, murder of its king and all the troubles Armenia faced, all this is explained by Stepane Mtbevari thus: “the land of Armenia is ambitious, its population – full of evil, avaricious, cruel, easy and fond of sins… full of all evils and Christ was killed not for them”24 (i.e. The Armenians have not been salvated after crucifixion). Bishop Stepane Mtbevari was a famous and wellknown writer of his period. Giorgi Merchule, the author of “Life of Grigol Khandzteli”, (a remarkable work written in 951 and which is the best monument of the old Georgian hagiographical literature, distinguished with high literary merits), names the best literary workers of his period, saying they should have described the life of St Grigol far better, among them “Bishop Stepane I Mtbevari”. He says he dared to write his work only after their death25. 

Another fact. In the remarkable Georgian manuscript copied in the 60-70s of the 10th century, in the specialist literature called “Shatberdis Krebuli” (Shatberdi collection), the last, 14th work, is “Translations of David’s psalms” (in the work and in the literature it was ascribed to Epipane Kvipreli, but now B.Utier proved it belongs to Teodorite Kvireli)26. It was translated by Dachi, unfortunately unknown to us by other sources. The translations show he was a wonderful writer of his period. Dachi was bishop Stepane I Mtbevari’s contemporary. The translations are preceded by his letter – “the first word written by Dachi to the blessed Stepane, Mtbevreli bishop” in which he appeals with the request to discuss one part of his translations (from Armenian as the Greek source was unavailable for him). If it is worthy “use it in the church”, if not “burn it and cover my failure, disclose me and I’ll repent”27.

 The facts mentioned above show bishop Stepane I Mtbevari’s literary talent, authority and influence on the then Georgian literature.

 Next Mtbevari bishop known to us is Iovane, who appears in the historical literary sources in the end of the 10th and the beginning of the 11th centuries. No other bishop is seen between Stepane and Iovane. But what we see for sure is that a fine tradition of appointing wellknown writers at the Tbeti cathedra successfully continued. That is witnessed by appointing Iovane who was an outstanding hymnographer and man of letters of his period28.

 Mikhael Modrekili’s “Iadgar” (collection of hymns)29 copied in 978-988 involves 15 groups of ecclesiastical – hymns created by Iovane Mtbevari30. K.Kekelidze characterized them as full of deep divinity, philosophical and theological thought, poetic inspiration and strivings, fine style and good literary language31.

 Iovane Mtbevari’s name is connected with several remarkable old Georgian manuscripts; they are: Tbeti I Gospel of 995 (preserved in St Petersburg, the Saltikov-Shchedrin public library)32, the so-called “Svanuri Mravaltavi” (Svanetian Collection) of the 10th cent. (Inst. of Manuscripts, A- 19)33, the 1003 year collection of Lives of Saints (kept in the library of Athos Monastery of Georgians, N 28)34. The first two manuscripts were prepared on his order but in copying the third one he himself participated. 

Tbeti Gospel was described only once – 120 years ago, by Tsagareli. There are the colophons of Gospel which often are presented by mistakes35. One colophon was issued by Ak. Shanidze38 and another by Iv. Imnaishvili37.

 The main colophon says(fig.21): “This Holy Book was written in Tbeti temple which is the Home of st. Apostles. The years from the beginning the World were… (the date is omited); Chronicon was – 215 (by uncial script, with tittles). It was written by two writers: David Oshkeli and poor Arkhipo; Christ have mercy them in heaven, for their deeds! And (the Gospel) was covered and binded by godly priest Stephane; Christ will blessed everybody who have contributed his activities to this book” 38.

 It is clear, that:

 1) The monuscript is copied at Tbeti.

2) The Tbeti temple was named in honour of st. Apostles (that’s why, the other Gospel copied in 1195 has the chased images of Apostles Peter and Paul on its cover)

3) MS is written at 995 year(Chronicon 215+780=995)

 4) It was written by two writers: David Oshkeli and Arkhipo

5) MS was covered and binded by priest Stephane

 A colophon of monuscript’s donator Iowane Mtbevari is written in ecclesiastical cursive and it is rather extensive (363-365). It is written in two columns unfortunatly, the ink is faded away and today it is difficult to read the full text. Fistly it was read by Ak. Shanidze in 1915 and published in 1926year. 39 The most part of colophon is theological. The main data, given in this colophon is:

 1) The donator of MS is Iowane, bishop of Tbeti.

2) The parents of Iowane were Arsen and Mariam(They are unknown in other sources)

3) The donator is mentioning the “divinly kings”: David Kuropalati, King of Kings Gurgen and the Bagrat the king of “Abkhazeti”

 In one more colophon is mentioned David Kuropalati (“Our Lord, Jesus Christ, You who have been in possesion all king of Beeng, glorify in Heaven Our King David Kuropalati, who is enthroned by You!”) In spite the expression “glorify in Heaven”, it is clear, that David Kuropalati is alive (as other kings who were mentioned above, in same case). It is so, because a following prase is : This Gospel was written in his (i.e. David Kuropalati’s) reign by two writers: davis and Arkhipo” 40 ( 88 r. Rigth column, in uncial script)Akhipo and David are mentioned once more together on page 140 r. (In the middle of the rigth column)41 and copiest david alone – on page 303 r. (At the end of the left column in ecclesiastical script)42

 In one of the columns of the Tbeti Gospel it is said: Our Lord Jesus Christ, by mediation of st. Annunsiators exalt Iowane Father Superior, at first Mtbevari and now by your inspiration Matsqvereli bishop and who again come there, to this temple”.43 From the latlest colophon it mecame evident, that donator of MS Iowane at first was Mtbevari and then – Matsquereli.

 In the hierarshical scale, Matskquereli had the more olace than Mtbevari. In the Georgian source of the 13th century (The Code of Royal Court) he is mentioned on 5th place among the hight rank 36 bishops and Mtbevari – on the 12th. 44 And in the source of the 16th century (bishops and flocks of Samtskhe-Saatabago) he (Matsquereli) is honoured to be on the 1-st place.(He had the right to vear the “vission” – richly embellished attire) Mtbevari is on the 5th place among the 13 pastors.45 It is un clear what does it means – the last prase in the colophon: “And again come there to this temple”. Some scientists, (for example A. Tsagareli thougth that this means that Iowane came back to his temple in Tbeti. 46 And according to A. Shanidze: “At 995 year, when this MS was copied Iowane have been appointed at Atsquri.47 (i.e. he become Matsquereli) The latest suggestion is doubtful, because in the MS it is exactly mentioned that the Gospel was copied when Iowane was a bishop at “Holy temple of Tbeti”. (see above) As it seems, the problem is complicated but we shall try to solve it below.48

 Thanks to a happy chance Iovane Mtbevari’s miniature portrait reached us. It is placed on the marginal space of Mikael Modrekili’s hymns collection(fig.22). Here he is in full body, from front, and is next to Basili the Great49, one of the great fathers of East-Christian Church. This witnesses how he was evaluated and respected by his contemporaries for his literary work and talent.

 One Georgian manuscript on parchment is preserved in Athos Monastery of Georgians (N28), which is a collection of Lives of Saints (18 lives in total). It is copied in 1003, in Shaori, in “the church of Holy Mother of God” personally on the wish and order of King Bagrat III (978-1014). As it is from the royal library, it is a precious relic. The manuscript has many colophons (15 old and 2 new ones and memorial records). Among them memorial records of manuscript copyist and participants of its creation: There is Iovane Mtbevari (258v). As well One more copyist is mentioned in the manuscript main colophon. He is Akvila Mtbevari (“was written and adorned… by the hand of miserable Akvila Mtbevari”). There are memorial records of Shaori elderman, (Shaori is a village where the manuscript was copied), Zenon Dagaisdze and of one more copyist Arseni Maleseli50 (or Malesileli, Mareliseli)51. One of the manuscript creators, was Iovane Mtbevari Zakueli, or Znakueli (Znakva is a village in Racha and is mentioned in the 11th century “Nikortsmindeli Datserili”)52. (The letters patent of bishop of Nikortsminda)

 It is considered that a renowned 10th century writer-hymnographer Iovane Mtbevari, who was contemporary of Bagrat III and a compiler and copyist of Athos–28 Znakueli Iovane Mtbevari are one and the same person.

 In our opinion, Akvila Mtbevari mentioned in the manuscript’s main colophon as its creator and copyist is a different person than Ivane//Iovane Mtbevari many times mentioned in different places of the manuscript. Thus, we should think there were two succeeding each other bishops in Tbeti Episcopal cathedra in the end of the 10th and the beginning of the 11th century – Iovane Mtbevari and Akvila Mtbevari. Akvila was, probably, appointed to the Tbeti cathedra from 995 after Iovane Mtbevari was sent to the Atsquri cathedra.

 After comparison the evidencies of two manuscripts (Tbeti Gospel and Atos-28) we can conclude: since the 995 year the donator of Tbeti I Gospel Iowane Mtbevari was appointed to be a bishop of Atzkuri temple. At the same time, Tbeti Cathedra have been occupied by Akvila Mtbevari. After some time, Iowane came back to Tbeti, wrote down about it in Tbeti I Gospel colophon and then both of them: Iowane and Akvila have been displaced to Shaori monastery (in racha district). Here, at 1003 they took place in creation of manuscript (The lives of 18 holy fathers). Latter this MS was copied by the order of king Bagrat III.

 After These two ones, Tbeti Cathedra was occupied by bishop Samoel, who took part in adornment of Tbeti Gospel as well (He received from Constantinople the Annunciators excellent miniatures especialy for this gospel). His colophon is written on p. 2 of Ms, by nice ecclesiastical cursive script. (unfortunatly, it was partly damaged in the 15th century by common Arseni Gigadrisdze or Gigababadrisdze). Samoel wrote(fig.23): “I, poor Samoel, was deserved (by God) to be the 4th bishop of…( then text was scraped out and have been written the new phrase of the 15th century)… I found this magnificant Gospel, which had the lack of the images of saints. So, I added the miniatures (icons) of them, which I have got by a much from the great Metropilis of Greece” (i.e. Constantinople)53

 One can see that Samoel named himself the 4 bishop of Tbeti (In fact, there is not mentioned to what of Cathedra Samoel have been deserved to be a bishop, but it is sure that he meant Tbeti Cathedra, because this colophon was written in Tbeti Gospel).54

 So, we know the names of exactly 4 bishops of Tbeti (Stepane, iowane, Akvila, Samoel), but there is one doubtful moment: between the time of Stepane and Iowane’s pastorships it had passed not less then one century. As we think, it is not excepted that the first pastor of Tbeti – Stepane continued his activities until the middle of the 10th century and then, Iowane was being the bishop aproximatly 40 years.

 After Samoel there appears Bishop Saba Mtbevari at the Tbeti Cathedra. Saba has played a significant role in the political life of the then Georgia, i.e. in about 1028 year period. “Matiane Kartlisai” (the “Chronicle of Kartli”) (the 11th cent.) and Sumbat Davitisdze (the 11th cent.) inform that after Giorgi I (1014-1027) died he was succeeded at the throne by his son, 11- year-old Bagrat IV (1027-1028). Two years after the “Tao noblemen” betrayed him and “left” for Greece. They were Vache Karichisdze and “many Tao noblemen”, later they were joined by Chanchakhi Paleli and Arjevan Hololasdze. These two in addition to betrayal handed two fortresses to Byzantium: one – Garqlobi fotress and the other – Tserepti or Tsepti fortress55. These Tao noblemen were joined by Baneli bishop Iovane. This took place about 1028. In such a situation, Byzantine Emperor Constantine VIII (1025-1028) sent numerous army under the commander Parkimanos Prodros Iovane Khartulari to invade Tao. The Greek army “raided and ravaged the country.”

 When “Saba Mtbevari bishop saw that Shatberdi could do nothing he built a fortress in upper Tbeti, held Shavsheti and was most devoted to Bagrat, Abkhazian King56. Sumbat Davitisdze informs that Saba Mtbevari built a fortress “near the Tbeti church and named it “Sueti” (“Pillar”)57. At the same time “Ezra Ancheli came to the fortress and also those noblemen who were devoted and they fortified it”58.

 Meanwhile Caesar Constantine felt he was dying, he called back his Parkimanos and his army. In 1028 he died and Byzantum had no time for Georgia any longer (there started coups d’etat at the emperor’s court) and Georgia escaped great troubles.

 For his devotion and support to the country in saving the country from invaders the King awarded the rank of Eristavi and granted civil powers to Mtbevari bishop making him a civil governor of Shavsheti. That’s why the Mtbevari bishops were called Shavsheti eristavis since then. “Khelmtsipis karis garigeba” (The regulation of Royal Court)directly points: “Behind the seat of Mtbevari stends his “Molaretukhutsesi” (chief of personal treasury). He holds the sword and shield, because he (Mtbevari) have been an eristavi (governor) of Shavsheti as well”59.

 It should be generally mentioned that granting the civil powers to bishops, namely, those of eristavs, was not alien in old Georgia. For example, “Moktsevai Kartlisai” (the 9th cent.) while telling about the 8th century events, says the following: “And then reigned Mirdat and archbishop was Glonocor. And this archbishop was also eristavi in Kartli and Hereti by Barazbod Pitiakhsh”60. For a certain period of time, especially borderline regions’ bishops were granted the rank of eristavi for strengthening the country security and centralization of borderline regions defense. The 11th century inscription of Grigol Tsurtsqabeli (Tsurtsqabi eparchy was located between the Tbeti and Tsqarostavi eparchies), in which he is mentioned also as eristavi. E.Taqaishvili, who published this inscription made on the stone put in the support of the bridge over the river Ktsia, expresses supposition that Tsurtsqabeli bishops, like Mtbevari bishop, held both church and civil power in the countries subject to them61.

 Even more, Kakhetian King Giorgi I (1466-1476), who faced great problems in implementing governance reforms, divided the country into military regions – “sadrosho” and put Alaverdeli, Bodbeli, Rustveli, Martqopeli and Ninotsmindeli62 bishops at their heads. Thus he was more protected from the separatist ambitions of noble feudals.

 It should also be mentioned here that in the war, the bishops, surely, could not lead the army (however, they, probably, took it to the battle site and even participated in it). In case of Kakheti sadrosho the army was, certainly, commanded by the mouravis (managers) instead of bishops63.

 In case of Shavsheti Eristavi, who at the same time was a bishop the army seems to be commanded by Mtbevari’s Molaretukhutsesi. At royal court receptions and assemblages he held a shield and a sword. In general, molaretukhutsesi was a layman. At the royal court the King’s molaretukhutsesi was an official of palace institutions – he is a guardian of a great state seal64. Both the royal court and local governance services, probably, had their own molaretukhutsesi. Mtbevari, Shavsheti Eristavi at the same time, had such by all means (“of his molaretukhutsesi”-is said in the “Khelmtsipis Karis Garigeba” about Mtbevari) and, it was likely just he, who commanded the army in the war instead of Mtbevari.

 It could be concluded that Saba Mtbevari bishop, who conducted his activities in the 20s of the 11th century, is not the only bishop having also civil powers. The Mtbevaris had such powers until the eparchy existed (end of the 16th cent.), in any case in the 14th century this event is legally proved (“Khelmtsipis karis garigeba”).

 Next Mtbevari bishop, who is mentioned in the historical sources, is Pavle Mtbevari (the 60s of the 12th century). On his order, near 1161 Iovane Pukaralisdze copied the so-called Tbeti II Gospel – a big (P 324) manuscript in Nuskha-Khutsuri on the parchment65. The manuscript is supplied with Pavle Mtbevari’s lengthy colophon, which contains several important evidences: 1) the manuscript is copied and gifted to Tbeti church; 2) Pavle Mtbevari who calls himself “bearer of cross” (“bringer of cross”)66, was brought up by King Dimitri (1125-1155), son of King David Aghmashenebeli (1089- 1125); 3) he is a contemporary of King Giorgi (1156-1184), he compared the king with a person who is brarer then a lion and faster then an eagle; 4) along with this Otkhtavi (Gospel) he gifted other manuscripts to Tbeti church (“zatiki”, “ibako” (Apart of kondakion), “stychari” (Troparion) and the icon; 5)he had brothers: Giorgi, Tevdore, Kvirike and sisters: Tskhorebai, Guarandukht and Nona; 6) his nephews were (probably, from different sisters): Nikoloz Kutateli archbishop, Arseni Kutateli archbishop, Iovane Ancheli archbishop, Antoni Opiza Father Superior, Arseni, pray of King Dimitri67. We should turn our attention here that such hing-ranking church positions were a ccumulated in the hands of the close relatives, infact, of one feudal house.

 Tbeti II Otkhtavi, which is put into a beautiful chased cover, is considered to be one of the most remarkable monuments of the 12th century Georgian goldsmith’s art(fig.24). It is made on the order of Bishop Iovane Mtbevar-Sapareli (note about it is made in the cover chased inscription)68.

 On the order of the same Iovane Mtbevari, Iovane Pukaralisdze (who is said to have copied Tbeti II Gospel on the order of Pavle Mtbevari) and Giorgi Setasdze copied Tsqarostavis Gospel69 . Of the year of 1195. The manuscript is supplied with numerous colophons, in which Iovane is mentioned as Mtbevari or Mtbevar-Sapareli. He writes in his main colophon that this Othkhtavi, richly adorned with precious stones, was put by him in Tsqarostavi, in front of the icon of God “to glorify and to pray for divinely crowned Queen Tamar and King David”70. He also gifted to Tsqarostavi church an icon of most holy (virgin) “painted and embellished.”

 What is most important Tsqarostavi Gospel was put into a chased cover made by a goldsmith Beka Opizari. The creative art of Beka and Beshken Opizari is considered to be the pinnacle of the 12th century Georgian goldsmith’s art. On the front cover of Gospel there is expressed Crucifixion and on the back cover there is Deesis. There are also three inscriptions, in two of which Iovane Mtbevari is mentioned as the person, who ordered to copy and embellish Gospel, in the third one it is said: “Christ, have mercy on goldsmith Beka Opizari.”

 There are some important marginal additions to the manuscript. The copyist and the date of copying are named in one of them (Chronicon 415 or 1195), the second says: “This Gospel Contains two hundred drammas (coins) of silver and twenty drammas of gold, precious stones and pearls, and goldsmith’s wage was 23 (dramma)”71; then a curse to those who may take them from the manuscript. In this note of rare content (Sh.Amiranashvili) it is mentioned that the goldsmith, Beka Opizari, got 23 drammas for his work.

 Iovane Mtbevar-Sapareli seems to directly succeed Pavle Mtbevari at Tbeti bishop’s cathedra. That he is mentioned as Sapareli in the sources, points to his origin or his initial activities in the Sapara Monastery (at 12 km distance from Akhaltsikhe), or his activities as father-soperior of monastery.

 E.Taqaishvili considers that in the 13th century there was copied one Georgian Gospel, the socalled Ubisi Gospel. In its two colophons made in the time of the manuscript, Giorgi Mtbevari is mentioned. One says: “Christ, our God, protector of all and graciousness of annunciators, make use of this Gospel for Giorgi-Mtbevari, give peace to him here and in other world.” It is also mentioned about some Saba, the manuscript copyist, who mentions about himself in two other marginal additions. This Saba dedicated an iambus verse to Giorgi Mtbevari, which he wrote down in the manuscript. In iambus he calls Giorgi as David’s preacher. E.Taqaishvili supposes this should be King David, the text does not clarify which one out of the 13th century three kings under this name72.

 The monuscript N.76 of Jerusalem Holy cross Georgian Monastery, has the following colophon: “I, poor Iowane Vardzieli , archpriest of the Ressurection Church, have been presented by God to got the Book of Epistles of Souls blesser Paul Apostle, who is Father-superior of all us, … It was written at the Church of Holy Sepulchre when it had been captured by Turks. The year was – 32 (i.e. 32+1312=1344). It was time, when the keys (of Holy Sepulchre) had the Turks, for our sins. It was very difficult to enter the Church without the great troubles and much sums. (This was done) when here was Kvirile Mtbevari who brougth up us and who is our protector”73.

 It is evident, that: 1) The manuscript contents Apostle Paul’s Epistles. 2) The MS have been got by archpriest of Ressurection Jerusalem Church Iowane Vardzieli. 3) MS was copied at 1344 year74 in the Church of Holy Sepulchre, when it was captured by Turks and they hold the keys of this Church. 4) At that time there was in Jerusalem a protector and master of Iowane Vardzieli – Kvirile Mtbevari. For us it is topic That there is mentioned unknown by other sources Kvirile Mtbevari, the bishop of Tbeti of the 14th century.

 After that the information on Mtbevari bishops in the historical sources appears only from the 15th century.

 It is mentioned in “Akhali Kartlis Tskhovreba” (New History of Georgia”), that in 1485 Kvarkvare Atabagi ousted Matsquereli thus punishing him, after Iaqub-Khan stole the Atsquri icon of Holy Mother of God and “found another bishop at the border with Ponto, from Trebizond city, by the name Svimeon, as he headed then the Tbeti church. And he granted him Matsquereli rank”75. Consequently, certain Svimon from Trebizond, who was Mtbevari, was appointed by Kvarkvare Atabagi as Matsqvereli. It is unknown whether Svimeon preserved both cathedras or not as the case was with Iovane Mtbevari- Matsquereli at the turn of the end of the 10th-11th centuries, or he was simply raised in rank, granting him Atsquri Cathedra and another was appointed as Mtbevari instead of him. Iv.Javakhishvili supposes Svimeon from Trebizond should have been Greek. More earlier, in 1475, probably, he was the person sent by Kvarkvare to Greece and Athos to commemorate the newly deceased Bahadur76.

 In the memorial records book of the Athos Monastery of Georgians, in the end of a lengthy note concerning determination of the memorial records for Bahadur, who died at the age of 20 or 21 (October 20 is the day of his death), it is mentioned: “One of those invited for this to Samtskhe was Svmon, a Greek priest, who had long served them and one Georgian monk, named Akaki, brought up by them and serving them”77. It seems from this note Svimon was a Greek, whether he was from Trebizond, was Tbeti church head until Qvarqvare Atabagi made him Matsqvereli. 

In 1904 Shavshet-Klarjeti expedition journal, N. Mari preserved notifications about two, now lost, inscriptions, connected with the Tbeti bell-tower, done in the old Georgian Asomtavruli script. The bell-tower stood to the south-west of the temple. Only ruins of it have reached us. One of the inscriptions was of construction, another of a construction executive, i.e. of the supervisor of the construction. A stone with a fragment of a constructional inscription was set into a fire-place mantelpiece at N. Mari’s host family’s, Jevri-Efendi’s house78. N. Mari speaks about the preserved part of the text, from which it becomes clear that a certain “….itos” Mtbevari, had probably constructed “the above mentioned bell-tower. Chronicon was 215”79. I suppose “….itos” could be restored as “Dimitros” or “Dimotrios” and thus we receive a name of one more Mtbevari bishop80. The date set in the inscription corresponds the year 1527 (1312+215). N. Mari himself supports this date, rather then the year 996 (780-215), supposedly presented by himself. Plus taking into consideration the fact, that constructing of the bell-towers in Georgia is considered to have started by the end of the 13th century81.

 The text of the second of Tbeti bell-tower inscriptions was as follows: “†, The lord have shown mercy upon the supervisor of this (temple) Shahmuz Tatukhadze”82 . The same Jevri-Efendi hadtaken the inscribed stone from the ruins of the bell-tower83 10 years before i.e. N. Maris visit to Tbeti. The supervisor mentioned in the text N. Mari had comprehended as “someone standing upon something” and translated this part of the text in Russian as follows: “standing on this site, at this place or here”84; according to it, he considers the inscribed stone to be a grave-stone (“This inscription points not to the bell-tower, but the grave stone”- in Russian). But as a mater of fact, “supervisor’ is a technical term used to mark the executive-manager of the works, the one who supervises” (stands upon) the craftsmen and the work. Even older version of the term (10th century) is “work supervisor”, as the supervisor of the Oshki temple Grigol calls himself 85.

 Consequently, in 1527 a certain unknown Dimitros or Dimitrios (if the the names are mentioned correctly) was the bishop of Tbeti. During his time a bell-tower was constructed, according to other sources too, the supervisor of works was a certain Shahmuz Tatukhadze.

 According to one chronological note added to the manuscript S-252g of the Institute of Manuscripts, in 1556 “Father Saba Khakhulari Tsqmedidze was appointed Mtbevari”86. That means, Saba, who was Khakhuli Monastery Father Superior then became Mtbevari bishop.

 One of the dateless manuscripts (Ad-720) of the Institute of Manuscripts – a book of loyalty sent by Saba Mtbevari to Cathalicos Domenti, (original) has a cross in the end for a signature – confirmation, is dated as 155687 according to the mentioned above chronological note. The document text says: “I, Mtbevari Saba, gave this Eternal Book to you – the ruler of Cathedral and Apostolic Holy Church, Catholicos of Kartli, Patriarch Domenti, when I have Blessed by you”88.

From the Kartli Cathalicoses named of Domenti, Domenti I was a head of Georgian Church in 1556-156089. It seems that he consecrated Saba Mtbevari and immediatly took from him a book of loyalty; The next part of the document points: “I shall be faithful to your church and obedient to your order”90.

On January 9th 1586, the king of Kartli, bestowed “the sign and the order” to the Dmanisi temple, according to which the villages of Chinchxori, Vardisubani, Mutavisi, and the Gudarekhi monastery were subjected to Dmanisi91. A piece of paper is attached (stuck) at the beginning of the document, where in red, yellow and black paints the image of the Holy Virgin (up-waste) with the baby-Christ (in full body) (fig.25) is presented. The image is set into a double thin-lined square-shaped frame, outside of which, up in the corner to the full width, in bold letters and noticeably, in two lines, done in black ink, an Asomtavruli inscription is made: “Lord, mercy Dmanel-Mtbevari Metropolitan (the metropolitan of Dmanisi and Tbeti) Elise, who till his own death tried to enrich his temple92.”

To the left of the image of the Holy Virgin, in the space left in the frame, an inscription is done in Nuskha-Khutsuri, in black ink, where once again, the Dmanel-Mtbevari Metropolitan Elise is mentioned, and besides, there are enumerated the endowments of the king to the temple, where the Metropilitan Elise had its owm share: “The villages, Vardisubani, Mutavisi, Gudarexi are endowed to the Holy Virgin”

“Holy Virgin, Have mercy upon the Dmane-Mtbevari Metropolitan, Elise, who restored his dwelling and inherited it to the temple. Amen”93.

As it is obviously seen from this document, by the end of the 80es of the 16th century, the Tbeti chair was also transferred to the Dmanel-Mtbevari Mertopilitan. As no other sources proving this fact exist (as a matter of fact, Dmanisi and Tbeti are rather remote from each other) only suppositions can be uttered. It is evident, that The Tbeti Chair at this time, after Saba Mtbevari, was free (widowed), and that may be why it was passed to Dmaneli Metropolitan for control – why exactly to him, is as well unclear. The Tbeti Chair itself was not abolished, as it below it becomes apparent that it existed till the mid 17th century, i.e. for at least a half century longer. Another Mtbevari Bishop, known from the sources is Gedeon Siprodze, (The 30es of the 17th century). Was there anyone else between him and Elise Mtbevari is as well unknown. Thus, on this stage of the research, we have to just state facts, that The Tbeti and The Dmanisi Eparphies were under control of one and the same person (Elise Mtbevari). The manuscript S-252g points that in 1637 “Sapridze Gedeon was Mtbevari”94. In 1650 “Mtbevari Sapridze” is mentioned, probably, he is the same Gedeon “who got Ishkhneli and Matsqvereli ranks from sultan”95.

 In 1650 when Mtbevari Gedeon Sapridze got the rank of Ishkhneli and Matsqvereli “Khvantkari”, i.e. Ottoman sultan was Mehmed IV (1648-1687) of 9 years old, he became a sultan at the age of 796.

 After that there is no mention on Mtbevari bishops in historical sources any longer. In the period of Vakhushti Batonishvili the Tbeti cathedra has already been abolished.

 To sum up all said above we see the following evidences in the sources about Mtbevari bishops:

 Stepane – the end of the 9th – the beginning of the 10th century.

Iovane – the end of the 10th – the beginning of the 11th century,  Matsquereli since 995.

Akvila – the beginning of the 11th century

Saba – mentioned from somewhere near 1028.

Pavle – the 60s of the 12th century.

Iovane, Mtbevar – Sapareli – the end of the 12th century.

Giorgi – the 13th century.

Kvrile – mid – 14th century.

Svimeon – second half of the 15th century, Matsqvereli since 1485.

Saba Tsqmedisdze, Mtbevar – Khakhulari since 1556.

Kvrile – the 16th century.

 Gedeon Sapridze – mid-17th century, Mtbevari since 1637; He is mentioned in 1650 as well.  Later he was also Ishkhnel-Matsquereli.

 The most significant historical source “The book of memorial records of Tbeti”, a remarkable written source, seems to have been created in Tbeti and is connected with the Tbeti church. It is a long scroll (476 cm long and 16,5-19,5 cm wide) made of parchment pages sewn one to another, on which there are written commemorations on different persons living on the territory of the Tbeti eparchy, in different periods, in different centuries (the 12th -17th centuries). There are 588 memorial records but they should have been far more. The “The book” involves rich material for studying historical geography, genealogical trees and onomastics in South-East Georgia. At present the monument is completely published phototypically97. 

Two monasteries from those founded by St. Grigol Khandzteli (759-861) and his disciples are located in the Tbeti Eparchy. They are Khandzta Monastery and Gunatle Convent98. Each of them, especially Khandzta, contributed largely to the history of Georgian culture.

 

 Chapter V 

Eparchy of Bana

 

  The Bana eparchy was one of the eparchies of the Georgian Apostolic Orthodox Church. The Father Superior of the Bana eparchy carried the title «Baneli» (of Bana) or «Banaeli». It was founded at the turn of the 9th-10th cc and existed up to the end of the 17th century. Foundation of the Bana eparchy is mentioned in the work by Sumbat Davitisdze, the 11th century Georgian historian, «Life of the Bagrations»: «Adarnese, son of David Kurapalati, was established as the «King of Georgians” … and this Adarnese, son of assassinated David, built Bana by the hand of Kvirike Baneli, who became the first bishop of Bana»1. The same is repeated in the insertion into the work of the 11th century «Matiane Kartlisai» («Chronicle of Georgia»)2. Hence, the Bana church was built by Adarnese, King of Georgians (888-923) by the hand of Kvirike Baneli, who had become the first Bishop of Bana. Vakhushti Batonishvili (Prince Vakhushti) (1696-1957) informs that Bana «is a domed church. It was built by King Adarnese»3. Recent research considers that the initial church of Bana is built in mid – 7th century and in the reign of the King Adarnese (9th-10th cc) it was renewed, reconstructed and turned into the bishop’s cathedral4. The eparchy centre was the village Bana located in South-West Georgia, in historical Tao, in 2km distance from the Turkish village Peniak, on the right bank of the river Banistskali (Penik-chai), in the river Chorokhi basin5. Vakhushti Batonishvili informs that Bana is the same Panak: «In the highland there is Bana now called Panak»6. He also gives evidence on the eparchy territorial borders: «in Bana there sat a bishop, pastor of Panasket and entire Tao, Oltis and Narumaki»7.

Bana etymology is connected with the Georgian word «banaki» (meaning «camp»). It is considered that the final consonant (k) fell out, as in the Georgian words: agaraki agara, danaki dana, eshmaki eshma, mushaki musha, khuashiagi khuasha, etc8.

The historical document of the beginning of the 16th century, «Bishops and Flocks of Cathalicos in Samtskhe-Saatabago», the Bana eparchy borders are determined as follows: «Baneli pastorate; entire Bana, Taos-kari, Panaskerti, Harizi gorge, entire Oltisi, Namurakani» 9. In the mid of the 18th century the Bana eparchy was abandoned. This is informed by Vakhushti Batonishvili10. Since then it has not been renewed. Its grand church (foundation diameter – 38m, interior space height, probably 32m) is in ruins now, though it has been comparatively well-preserved up to the mid of the 19th century and suffered considerable damage since then. During the Crimea war (1853-56) it was turned into a fortress by the Turks. They added some construction on it and added one high tower to eastern and southern sides. In 1855 and 1877-1878 there were some battles between the Russian and Turkish armies near Bana, in result of which the church was seriously damaged11.

From the architectural viewpoint the Bana church is an original and complex construction. It belongs to a group of round churches, based on tetraconch (fig.26,27). The church exterior is faceted but as it is big building it forms an impression of being circular. As an architectural construction Bana is in parallel with the monuments of Ishkhani (Tao), Leketi (historical Hereti), also two Armenian churches – Zwartnots and Gagik (in Anisi). In addition there are erected three floors with quadrangular chambers in the corners of apses to the east and west of the Bana church. They are supporting piers of construction on which the dome rests. The church is encircled with hoop-like doorways. All this attached beauty to the church in addition to its being firmly built. The capitals are decorated with special mastery both in the arcade of the altar and in different places of the church most complicated construction interior. Their total amount is about 20 and the motifs of the embellishment resemble those of antique capitals (pseudo-Corinthian, pseudo-Ionic…) but from the artistic viewpoint are of more compact scale. There are used geometric and plant motifs in the ornaments of the façade decoration (a pomegranate branch with leaves, flowers and fruits, a vine branch with thick bunches of grapes…)

All those, who had visited or studied the Bana church, were most charmed with its ornaments, beauty and magnificence. It was visited in different periods by a botanist K.Koch (1843), D.Bakradze (1881). It was twice visited by E.Taqaishvili (1902, 1907) who published its extensive description, characterization, and photos of good quality12. In our period, V.Beridze13, P.Zakaraia14, W.Djobadze15, R.Mepisashili, D.Tumanishvili16 published their works dedicated to the Bana church.

Bana was a residence and property of the Georgian kings. For example, in the work by Sumbat Davitisdze it is mentioned about Bagrat IV (1027-1072) «there reached Bagrat Tao and came to his estate Bana»17 and David Aghmashenebeli’s historian says that «did go King Giorgi to Tao, patrimony of his, and came to Bana»18. King Giorgi II (1072 – 1089) mentioned here, is David Aghmashenebeli’s father. The name of Bagrat IV, one of the renowned kings of Georgia, is closely connected with Bana, especially the years of his adolescence. «Matiane Kartlisai» informs that Queen Mariam, on her return from Constantinople in 1032 after conducting talks there, «when she did reach the patrimony of her son, Tao, she brought to him (Bagrat) the rank of Kurapalati; the wedding was arranged, his crown was consecrated at Bana»19. It was just the wedding of Bagrat IV to Princess Helen of Byzantine royal court that was represented on one of the 11th century frescoes of the Oshki church20(fig.28). Unfortunately, it did not reach us in full. The fresco was interesting because it has the Bana church represented on it which is most unique, interesting and important21.

Bana, as a royal property, also was a royal place of interment. King Vakhtang IV (1443-1447), son of Alexandre the Great (1412-1442), was the last to be interred there in 1447, and in 1444 there was buried his wife, Queen Sitikhatun, daughter of Taqa Panaskerteli22. Bana, being located in the south-western part of Georgia, experienced frequent raids of Turks. The Georgians resisted as hard as they could to defend it. On the pages of «Kartlis Tskhovreba» (History of Georgia) over the 11th-16th cc one can come across the evidences on battles for Bana and by Bana23.

Due to frequent attacks, only the scare evidences have been preserved on the Bana eparchy and Bana bishops. For example, according to the 13th century document «Gangeba Darbazobisa» («The ceremony og Royal Court») it is known that among 37 hierarchs of East and South Georgia, Bishop of Bana sat on the 32nd place at the royal assemblages after Bishop of Tsalka and in front of the Bishop of Cherem-Kalaki24. The historical sources inform about few bishops of Bana.

The first bishop of Bana was Kvirike, a contemporary of King Adarnese, who conducted his activities at the turn of the 9th-10th cc. There are no other evidences about him. We only know that he built, renewed and reconstructed the Bana church.

El. Metreveli considers that in the colophon (Inst.of Manuscripts, A-648) of Zakaria Banel- Walashkerteli (infra) there is mentioned «Asat Patriarch», who was Baneli bishop, carrying his title nominally as it was devoid of real content of patriarch25. She dates the situation represented in the colophon by the last quarter of the 10th cent26. I think this consideration may be conventionally shared and we may imply Asat Patriarch at Bana Episcopal cathedra in the last quarter of the 10th century.

In the 11th century there are known two bishops of Bana-Zakaria and Iovane. Both were participants of the most turbulent political events of the 11th century, especially Zakaria Baneli. He has become head of Valashkerti, an orthodox eparchy neighbouring Bana (eastwards) and has been frequently mentioned in the sources as Zakaria Valashkerteli or Zakaria Banel-Valashkerteli. He was also granted the highest Byzantine ecclesiastical title of Svingelos and in the written sources he was called Zakaria Svingelos. Thus, for example, in the colophon to the collection of homilies (Inst.of Manuscripts,A-1) by Grigol the Theologian copied in 1031 he is mentioned thus: «Christ, Our Lord of Glory, exalt by your glory in the both excestance, Zakaria Svingelos, Baneli patriarch and give to his soul abode in heaven»27. The colophon to the collection of works by Maxime the Confessor (Q-34) copied in 1028-1034 mentions that it «was written by the order and approval of Zakaria, bishop of Bana and Svingelos»28 and so on.

The evidences on Zakaria Baneli have been preserved in the colophons of remarkable Georgian manuscripts (A-1, A-92, A-648, S-143, Q-34) copied on his initiative in 1028-1034; in the work by the 11th Armenian author Aristakes Lastivertezi «History»29; in the work by Byzantine historian Ioane Skylizes30 (after 1040 – the first decade of the 12th cent.) etc. These evidences represent the following picture:

Zakaria’s parents belonged to the Tao Georgian aristocracy. They were close to king David Kurapalati (†1001). Zakaria mentions about him in the colophon to one of the manuscripts copied on his initiative as «a guide of his way of life». Here he also names his parents, the circle of persons he had relations with and who formed and determined his life. He «prays for soul of his educator David Kurapalati of Georgians who guided his life, whose soul is glorified in heaven and for exalting the souls of his father-superiors and parents: Arsen Mamamtavari (Father Superior), Bakuri and Tekla, Patriarch Asat, David and Dapanchuli». El.Metreveli suggests her supposition that Zakaria was from Dapanchuli family31.

Zakaria was being prepared for ecclesiastical activities since his childhood. He was said to be sent to the Otkhta Eklesia («Church of Four») for education, to Arsen Father Superior Ninotsmindeli, future renowned figure (ca 1001-1002) of the Athos Georgian monastery and closest counselor of Eptvime Mtatsmindeli. After Arsen Ninotsmindeli went to the Georgian Monastery of Iviron in Athos the ways of Arsen and Zakaria were separated.

It is not known where and when Zakaria started his ecclesiastical activities, but in 1022 he appeared in the political life. It was the year when Basili II, Emperor of Byzantine (976-1025) advanced with his army in Basiani and demanded from the Georgian King Giorgi II (1014-1027) to give back the lands temporarily transferred to David Kurapalati, the lands, which should have been returned to the Emperor of Byzantium after David’s death (it is mentioned about it directly and clearly by St Giorgi Mtatsmindeli in his work «Life of Iovane and Eptvime»: «Then (after Barda Skleros’ revolt was defeated through the assistance of David Kurapalati) kings (Emperors of Byzantium Basili and Constantine) gave upper lands of Greece to Kurapalati (David), to have them in his life»)32. Zakaria Baneli participated in the talks from the Byzantine side as a person entrusted by the Emperor. By that time he had already been granted the rank of Valashkerteli and the title of Svingelos.

The agreement was nearly reached and the talks were coming to the end, when the Emperor was informed about the revolt of Nicipore Poka and Ksipe. Basili went back and turned his attention to the defeat of the revolt. King Giorgi I and other Georgians put great hopes to this revolt; the representatives of Armenian aristocracy were also involved in it. Giorgi I decided not to observe the term put forward to him. But Emperor Basili suppressed the revolt and mercilessly punished its participants, among them the Georgian and Armenian feudals.

The talks between the Emperor and the King resumed and Svingelos Zakaria Banel-Valashkerteli again participated in them. It seemed he was trying to artificially delay the agreement in favor of the Georgian side, which was guessed by the Emperor and his suroundings. The Emperor was angry with Zakaria. He was deprived of the right to take part in the talks. Zakaria was exiled to Constantinople and the Emperor ordered his escort to cut out his tongue on the way (these events are described in details and some specific details are added in the publication by the 11th century Armenian historian Aristakes Lastivertezy)33. The sources say nothing on whether this last demand was fulfilled but after that Zakaria Baneli settled at Pirghu, district of Constantinople, in his own small monastery Hagiapanta («All-Holy»). There he started his wide literary and cultural activities, ordering and copying the manuscripts34.

In 1028-1031 on the wish and order of Zakaria Baneli 6 remarkable, richly illustrated Georgian manuscripts were copied in the scriptoria of the Georgian monasteries in Byzantium (Iviron, Hora and Hagiapanta of Constantinople and Olympus of Bitwinia). All of them have reached us and fortunately all of them are in Georgia. At present they are pride of the fund of Georgian manuscripts in the K.Kekelidze Institute of Manuscripts at the Georgian Academy of Sciences. One manuscript concerning Zakaria Baneli is kept in the N.Berdzenishvili Kutaisi Museum of History and Ethnography (N 176)35. Zakaria Baneli was endowed with creative talent. He is the author of one verse in Greek, in which he calls himself Svingelos and Valashkerteli.

Zakaria Baneli died in the beginning of the 11th century, as his name has not been mentioned since then37.

Iovane Baneli, his junior contemporary, can be considered Zakaria Baneli’s heir in the Bana eparchy. In the 20s of the 11th century Iovane Baneli betrayed under-age Bagrat IV and along with a group of nobles he left for Byzantium. Sumbat Davitisdze (the 11th cent.) mentions the following about it: «And there sat on the throne after him (Giorgi I) his son Bagrat, being nine years old; And the Tao noblemen went to Greece: Vache Karichisdze, Bana bishop Iovane, and also many noblemen of Tao… betrayed Bagrat and joined Constantine, brother of Basili, King of the Greeks, who later became a king»38; Basili II died in 1025 and Constantine VIII in 1028, Iovane Baneli and the Georgian nobles joined the Byzantine side after their betrayal in 1025-1028; Bagrat IV became a king in 1027, these events are dated as 1027-1028.

In 1033 a nephew of Gabriel Giorgi blessed by Iovane copied in lavra the Gospel-Tetraevangeliar, which is now preserved in Mestia ethnographic museum (N1)39. It was copied “in chronicon 253,” (i.e. 788+253=1033). Ilarion, the manuscript «momgebeli» (initiator) is mentioned twice in the colophon («Ilarion Ishkneli, an initiator of this holy book» and «Ilarion, son of Masur, Ishkhneli bishop initiated this holy Gospel»)40; in both casThe agreement was nearly reached and the talks were coming to the end, when the Emperor was informed about the revolt of Nicipore Poka and Ksipe. Basili went back and turned his attention to the defeat of the revolt. King Giorgi I and other Georgians put great hopes to this revolt; the representatives of Armenian aristocracy were also involved in it. Giorgi I decided not to observe the term put forward to him. But Emperor Basili suppressed the revolt and mercilessly punished its participants, among them the Georgian and Armenian feudals.

The talks between the Emperor and the King resumed and Svingelos Zakaria Banel-Valashkerteli again participated in them. It seemed he was trying to artificially delay the agreement in favor of the Georgian side, which was guessed by the Emperor and his suroundings. The Emperor was angry with Zakaria. He was deprived of the right to take part in the talks. Zakaria was exiled to Constantinople and the Emperor ordered his escort to cut out his tongue on the way (these events are described in details and some specific details are added in the publication by the 11th century Armenian historian Aristakes Lastivertezy)33. The sources say nothing on whether this last demand was fulfilled but after that Zakaria Baneli settled at Pirghu, district of Constantinople, in his own small monastery Hagiapanta («All-Holy»). There he started his wide literary and cultural activities, ordering and copying the manuscripts34.

In 1028-1031 on the wish and order of Zakaria Baneli 6 remarkable, richly illustrated Georgian manuscripts were copied in the scriptoria of the Georgian monasteries in Byzantium (Iviron, Hora and Hagiapanta of Constantinople and Olympus of Bitwinia). All of them have reached us and fortunately all of them are in Georgia. At present they are pride of the fund of Georgian manuscripts in the K.Kekelidze Institute of Manuscripts at the Georgian Academy of Sciences. One manuscript concerning Zakaria Baneli is kept in the N.Berdzenishvili Kutaisi Museum of History and Ethnography (N 176)35. Zakaria Baneli was endowed with creative talent. He is the author of one verse in Greek, in which he calls himself Svingelos and Valashkerteli.

Zakaria Baneli died in the beginning of the 11th century, as his name has not been mentioned since then37.

Iovane Baneli, his junior contemporary, can be considered Zakaria Baneli’s heir in the Bana eparchy. In the 20s of the 11th century Iovane Baneli betrayed under-age Bagrat IV and along with a group of nobles he left for Byzantium. Sumbat Davitisdze (the 11th cent.) mentions the following about it: «And there sat on the throne after him (Giorgi I) his son Bagrat, being nine years old; And the Tao noblemen went to Greece: Vache Karichisdze, Bana bishop Iovane, and also many noblemen of Tao… betrayed Bagrat and joined Constantine, brother of Basili, King of the Greeks, who later became a king»38; Basili II died in 1025 and Constantine VIII in 1028, Iovane Baneli and the Georgian nobles joined the Byzantine side after their betrayal in 1025-1028; Bagrat IV became a king in 1027, these events are dated as 1027-1028.

In 1033 a nephew of Gabriel Giorgi blessed by Iovane copied in lavra the Gospel-Tetraevangeliar, which is now preserved in Mestia ethnographic museum (N1)39. It was copied “in chronicon 253,” (i.e. 788+253=1033). Ilarion, the manuscript «momgebeli» (initiator) is mentioned twice in the colophon («Ilarion Ishkneli, an initiator of this holy book» and «Ilarion, son of Masur, Ishkhneli bishop initiated this holy Gospel»)40; in both cases Ishkhneli is written in scratched places. A second time there is written «ishkh» in the scratched place and «nel» following it is of initial writing41. It seems there was initially written «Banel» there, i.e. in 1033 when the manuscript was copied Ilarion was Baneli bishop then be became Ishkhneli.

As we have seen above, in 1027-1028 Iovane Baneli together with Tao noblemen repudiated King Bagrat IV and joined the Byzantine side. He seems to be replaced by Ilarion at Bana cathedra. It was just then that he ordered to copy the Gospel manuscript, in the colophon of which an alteration was introduced by him after leaving Ishkhani cathedra. This took place in 1033. Therefore, Ilarion was at Bana cathedra in 1028-1033 (cf:above, chapter II, Ishkhani Cathedra).

Ilarion is the last bishop at Bana cathedra known to us from the historical sources; so by now we know the following Bana bishops:

Kvirike –the end of the 11th – the beginning of the 10th cent. Asat “Patriarch” –the last quarter of the 10th cent. Zakaria –the 20s of the 11th cent. Iovane – the 11th cent.up to 1028. Ilarion – 1028-1033.

Episcopal cathedra did not exist long in Bana after the 11th century. It seemed to be a victim of Turk-Seljuk raids. But Bana has remained a spiritual centre for a long time after as there was monastery there. This is witnessed in the colophon to one manuscript copied in the 16th century (infra).

The literary activities were also ongoing in Bana42. Unfortunately, Bana has been permanently raided by the enemies since the 11th century. That was why nearly none of the manuscripts copied there survived. Only one of them is known. It is a manuscript of “Sabatsminda Charter” (Typicon) (A-647) copied by order of Princess Ketevan in 1511. It is said in one of the colophons to the manuscript: «This holy book of Charter (Typicon) was written by the order of daughter of King of Kings Giorgi Patroness Kristine (Ketaon in secular life). God bless her life. It was Finished in chronicon One Hundred Ninety-Nine, in the monastery of the Life-Giving Cross, in Bana»43. The scribe is also mentioned in another colophon to the manuscript: «finished by the hand of the most sinful Iacob, son of Jaqeli»44.

It clarifies that the Bana Monastery was named after the Life-Giving Cross in the 16th century, and Iacob Jaqeli is the last one known to us from Bana.

 

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ტაო-კლარჯეთი  Tao-Klardjeti

 

 

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