Tetri Giorgi

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The Tetri Giorgi Church near Alaverdi Monastery in Akhmeta, Georgia.
Tetri Giorgi and the Seven Celestials – 1918 design of the emblem of the Democratic Republic of Georgia.

Tetri Giorgi (Georgian: თეთრი გიორგი, "White George") is one of the local names of Christian Saint George in Georgia, specifically in the country’s northeastern highland districts.

Tetri Giorgi was used as a national symbol, as part of Georgia's coat of arms in the years 1918-1921 and 1991-2004. The name of Tetri Giorgi has also been adopted by several political and non-political organizations, significantly by an anti-Soviet Georgian émigré group in Europe and a 1990s paramilitary unit.


Saint George was venerated in Georgia since the late ancient period.[citation needed] The exonym Georgia was applied to the country from the 11th or 12th century, probably by false etymology, but inspired by the great popularity of the saint there.[citation needed]

The cult of Tetri Giorgi is associated with the Kakheti region in particular. It is syncretistic, combining the Christian saint with the cult of a local lunar deity.[1]

A feast day of Tetri Giorgi (tetrigiorgoba) separate from the feast day of the Christian saint was once[year needed] marked annually on 14 August, when many pilgrims from the eastern Georgian provinces attended an overnight feast at the saint's chief shrine – a 14th-century church overlooking the village Atsquri in what is now Akhmeta Municipality, Kakheti.[2]

In heraldry[edit]

In May 1918, the Democratic Republic of Georgia – newly independent from the Russian Empire – chose the equestrian depiction of Tetri Giorgi as a centerpiece of its coat of arms. But the image was rendered more secular as its Christian symbolism was disfavored by Georgia's Social-Democratic government, recalls Revaz Gabashvili, a critic of the contemporary Georgian government.[3] In this design, Tetri Giorgi is shown as an armed horseman below a depiction of "the Seven Celestials" (the seven classical planets).

This coat of arms was in use until the Soviet takeover in 1921 and again in post-Soviet Georgia from 1991 to 2004.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Yarshater, Ehsan (ed., 1983), The Cambridge history of Iran, pp. 533-534. Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-20092-X. "lurking within the Georgians' conception of St George may be a Moon deity, as is evidenced inter alia by the saint's nickname: ťeťri Giorgi (თეთრი გიორგი), 'white George'." S. H. Rapp, The Sasanian World through Georgian Eyes: Caucasia and the Iranian Commonwealth in Late Antique Georgian Literature (2014), p. 152, referencing Kevin Tuite, [http://www.mapageweb.umontreal.ca/tuitekj/publications/Lightning_Sacrifice_Possession-2004-2.pdf "Lightning, Sacrifice, and Possession in the Traditional Religions of the Caucasus"[, Anthropos 99.2 (2004), 481–497 (487f.).
  2. ^ (in Georgian) http://www.folk.ge/index.php?section=164&lang_id=geo&info_id=551 თეთრი გიორგი (Tetri Giorgi)]. State Center of Folklore of Georgia. April 14, 2008. Retrieved on April 30, 2009
  3. ^ (in Georgian) Gabashvili, Revaz, "მოგონებები" ("Memoirs"), pp. 119-120, in: Sharadze, Guram & Sanikidze, Levan (ed., 1992), დაბრუნება (ქართული ემიგრანტული ლიტ-რა) ("The Comeback — Georgian Émigré Literature"). Tbilisi: Metsniereba.