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Famous Georgian Women

gamoCenili qarTveli qalebi



(XII-XIII century BC)

Medea was the daughter of King Aeetes (Georgian Ayeti) of Colchis (Georgian Kolkheti), skilled in magic and sorcery. She fell in love with Jason and helped him, against the will of her father, to obtain the Golden Fleece, a symbol of the opening of new trade routes. When Aeetes lost the Golden Fleece, he lost also his kingship. Perses 3, his brother, could depose him and became king in his stead.

When Jason left Colchis, she fled with him and lived as his wife for 10 years, bearing him two children. Jason later wished to marry Creusa, daughter of King Creon of Corinth, but Medea sent her an enchanted wedding gown that burned her to death. The angered citizens of Corinth killed her two children. (The tragic situation of Medea, abandoned in Corinth by Jason, was the subject matter transformed by Euripedes in his tragedy Medea, first performed in 431 BCE).

Afterward, Medea fled to Athens, where she married King Aegeus. They had one son: Medus. When Theseus returned to Athens, Medea, with Medus, fled Athens and came incognito in Aea, Colchis and, finding that Aeetes had been deposed by his brother, slew Perses 3 and restored the kingdom to her father.

The death of King Aeetes has not been reported, but he was probably succeeded in the throne by Medus, the son of Medea.

See also:

Gela Gamkrelidze - "Zur Identifikation der Kolcherin Medea auf einem par Stelenrelief von Suchumi"




Tamar Bagrationi was first Woman King of the kingdom of Georgia from 1184-1213. She ruled during what is generally regarded as Georgia's "golden age" and gained a reputation as an outstandingly successful ruler, dubbed "King of Kings and Queen of Queens" by her subjects.

She was born in 1160, the daughter of King Giorgi III (1156-1184). Tamar's first husband was the Russian prince Yuri Bogolyubsky (in 1185-1186). She had no children by Yuri. Then she selected her second husband herself. He was the Ossetian prince David Soslan of the Georgian Bagrationi family, whom she married in 1188.

Tamar played an active military role as the commander of an army. In 1193 the Georgian army marched to Bardav. Following its triumphant return, a new campaign was undertaken against Erzerum. The army under Tamar and David attacked the Seljuks (Turks) wintering on the banks of the river Arax.

The Atabag of Azerbaijan Abu-Bakr was given command of the army of the coalition of Georgia's Muslim opponents. A battle was fought near Shamkhor in 1195 which ended in a Georgian victory. Numerous prisoners and huge amounts of booty were seized, including the Khalif's standard, which Tamar donated to the Icon of Our Lady of Khakhuli. The Georgians took the city of Shamkhori and the adjoining regions, and the occupied lands were turned over to the Shirvan-Shah on terms of vassalage. From Shamkhori the Georgian army marched to Gandza.

The Georgian victories alarmed the Muslim rulers of Georgia's neighbours, particularly Rukn ad-Din, Sultan of the Seljuk state in Asia Minor. The Sultan prepared for war in order to break the might of Christian Georgia and fought a major battle near Basiani in 1203. Despite the huge size of the Seljuk army - said to number more than 400,000 troops - the Georgian army under Tamar and David won a famous victory.

Under Tamar's rule, Georgia became the strongest power in the Near East and expanded its territorial influence considerably around the shores of the Black Sea. In 1204, Tamar helped found the Byzantine Empire of Trabizond on the southern shore of the Black Sea (now the Turkish province of Trabzon). This so-called "empire" was populated mainly by Lazi (Chani) Georgian tribes, ruled by refugees from Constantinopole. In 1206, Tamar's army occupied the city of Kars.

Like other medieval monarchs, Tamar played an active role in promoting her country's religion and culture, sponsoring the construction of numerous Georgian Orthodox churches. The poet Shota Rustaveli commemorated Tamar in his epic poem The Knight in the Panther's Skin, in which her coronation gave Rustaveli the historical background for his sublime description of the coronation of Tinatin.

King Tamar died in 1213 and was canonized by the Georgian Orthodox and Apostolic Church.


Ketevan Tsamebuli

In the beginning of XVII century Kartli and Kakheti (Eastern Georgia) were included into the subject of Iran. The Leaders of Kakheti showed their loiality to Shah but in real they were preparing secretly insurrection. The leader of these venture was Queen Ketevani.

Queen Ketevan Tsamebuli ("The Martyr") was daughter of Ashotan Bagration-Mukhraneli and Kakhetian King Alexandre's eldest son's - David's wife. David passed away in 1602. In spring of 1606 according with Ketevan's demand Shah-Abbas affirmed Christian Teimuraz II the King of Kakheti. He was 16 and the kingdom was ruled by Queen Ketevani.

Shah-Abbas decided to solve Georgia's problem at last. He intended to break Georgian's resistance. At first he decided to break the Georgian's morally and demanded from Ketevani to convert to Muslim. Queen Ketevani was famous and influential. Shah-Abbas knew if she converted to Muslim it will be his greatest victory. Terrible Shah could not force her convert in any way.

12 September, 1624, Queen Ketevani was put to death. She was martyred for speaking out of turn to the Persian court in Shirazi. Picture of beauty Queen was tormented with red-hot-iron in public. During torment Georgian Queen was very firmly.

Ketevan Tsamebuli was canonized by the Georgian Orthodox and Apostolic Church.

King Teimuraz II dedicated to mother the poem "Martyr of Queen Ketevani".

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Ekaterine Chavchavadze (1816-1882)

Ekaterine Chavchavadze was frequently described as proud, self-assured, strict, and demanding. Governor N. Muraviov Ekaterine Chavchavadzeprovided the following description of her:

Aspiration to nobility was evident in Ekaterine since her childhood. She was regarded as a very beautiful girl, but haughtiness always prevailed. She was always smart and restrained; she seldom laughed. Because of her haughtiness, I called [her] "princess" and predicted that she would be enthroned. It came true.

Ekaterine was born in Tbilisi on March 19, 1816. Her father, Alexandre, named her in honor of his godmother, Russia's Tsarina Ekaterine. After obtaining her primary education, Ekaterine entered the exclusive private boarding school of Praskovya Nikolaevna Arsenyeva Akhverdova in St. Petersburg. Like her older sister Nino, Ekaterine met her future husband-David Dadiani, the heir and future prince of the Georgian principality of Samegrelo-at Akhverdov's school, where David, a fellow student, was attracted by her beauty, grace, intelligence, and wit.

Ekaterine had many admirers both before and after she married David Dadiani in 1839. One was her childhood friend, Nikoloz (Tato) Baratashvili. Ekaterine continued to harbor tender feelings toward him throughout her entire life, and she played a vital role in popularizing his poetic works. Baratashvili, who died at age 27 in 1844, gave Ekaterine a notebook with his works, and she always carried it with her-even while living with her children in St. Petersburg and subsequently in Europe in the 1850s and 1860s. When the young poet Ilia Chavchavadze, visited Ekaterine in St. Petersburg, she showed him this notebook; Ilia immediately appreciated Baratashvili's talent, and used his influence to get the works of this deceased poet published posthumously. Another of Ekaterine's famous suitors was the Spanish Ambassador, Duke d'Osuna, who first met her at the coronation of Alexandre II in St. Petersburg in 1857.

On several occasions, the strength of Ekaterine's character was evident in her devotion to her family. She always maintained the honor of the Dadiani family and of Samegrelo, first as wife of the Prince David Dadiani and later as a princess, a role in which she contributed to the inculcation of Western values in the province, the furthering of its people's education, and defense of the territory of Samegrelo. She also played a vital role in maintaining and preserving the Dadiani's impressive ancestral library.

In August 1853, at the age 42, David contracted malaria and died after a month-long illness; at the time, Ekaterine was 37 years old. Because David's heir Niko was too young to assume his administrative powers, Ekaterine became de facto ruler of Samegrelo in her capacity as princess. She appointed Platon Ioseliani, David's friend, as her chief advisor; he actively participated in state decisions and undertook guardianship of her children. Ekaterine continued to pursue David's domestic and foreign policy goals, which included suppressing obstinate landlords and arrogant clergymen, and controlling the income of church.

In 1861, Ekaterine traveled to Dresden and Paris, where she became reacquainted with the renowned French historical novelist Alexandre Dumas, an old friend of the Chavchavadzes. Through her relationship with Dumas, Ekaterine acquired many influential French friends, and decided to reside for a time in France.

After her return to Georgia, Ekaterine took particular care of the family's ancestral library and manuscripts. She also contributed to the translation of Shota Rustaveli's Classic epic poem, A Knight in Tiger's Skin, into French. But despite her many interests, Ekaterine missed the status she enjoyed as Princess of Samegrelo, and as she grew older she began to have health problems. Her letters in these later years contain many poignant reflections on herself, her hopes and the passing of time. For example, she noted, "Happiness never lasts for a long time. A human is a sliver of wood from the tree called the tree of life."

Ekaterine Chavchavadze died on August 13, 1882. She was buried in Martvili convent, Samegrelo, next to her husband, and is remembered both as a heroic patriot and as a personality in which beauty, intelligence, and powerful will achieved a unique balance.

Nino Chavchavadze (1812-1857)

Nino Chavchavadze was stately, dark-haired, and dark-eyed, and attracted considerable attention for her beauty and charm. One of the literary essays about Nino Chavchavadze reads: "Nino was an incomparable musician, singer, and dancer; director and participant of family performances; artist; [a] magnificent embroider [and] rider; and a true lover of literature. At first sight, she charmed women and men of all ages and ethnicities-Georgian, Asian, Russian and European."

Nino was born in Tbilisi on November 4, 1812. Her birth was celebrated with a feast in the Chavchavadze family. In commemoration of her birth, her father Alexandre stored wine in a special amphora to be opened at Nino's wedding party.

Nina  Chavchavadze. 1857Nino received her initial education at home. Later, she attended a famous private boarding school in the St. Petersburg home of Praskovya Nikolaevna Arsenyeva Akhverdova. Praskovya Akhverdova's school attracted children of many noble families, and played an important role in Nino's life as well as the lives of her siblings. Here, they received a general education, studied foreign languages, learned to draw, and received a variety of special lessons.

Nino met her husband, the Russian poet Alexandre Griboedov (1795-1829), at Praskovya Akhverdova's school.

Nino Chavchavadze and Alexandre Griboedov married in Sioni Cathedral on August 22, 1828.

Unfortunately, the happy times Nino and Alexandre spent together as a married couple lasted just a few months. In 1828-four months after their marriage, and with Nino expecting a child-Griboedov traveled to Persia once again. In February, 1829, he was assassinated in Tehran. On July 13, 1829, Alexandre Griboedov's body was buried in the Mtatsminda churchyard of St. David's Monastery in Tbilisi. Nino had the following words engraved on the gravestone: "Your thoughts and deeds remain eternally in the memory of Russians, but why did my love for thee outlive thee?"

Although only 16 at the time of Alexandre's death and still surrounded by a great many admirers, Nino never remarried. Instead, she turned her attention to family, friends, and people in need.

In 1857, Nino Chavchavadze died of malaria in Tbilisi. According to her wish, she was buried beside her husband on Mtatsminda Hill. Flowers are often placed near her grave, as a testament to the love and respect that she continues to command among Georgians.

* * *

Meri Shervashidze

Winner of World Beauty contest. Original model of Coco Chanel.

Upon his arrival in Georgia (1912), Nicholas II of Russia was introduced to many Georgian ladies. Unable to conceal his admiration, the Emperor exclaimed, "What beauties!" and then addressed one of them directly, "It is sinful to be so beautiful!"

These words were addressed to Meri Shervashidze, very soon to be the Emperer's mother's maid of honour. As her father, an Abkhazian prince, the Major-General, Prokophy Shervashidze, was a member of the Russian State Duma (State Council), the family lived in Petersburg.

After Meri's father died the family mainly lived in Kutaisi. In 1918, Meri's fiance, Gigusha Eristavi, aide-de-camp to Nicholas II came to Kutaisi from Petersburg and theym got married.

In 1921, when the independence of Georgia was nearing its last days, she calmly and legally boarded a ship sailing from Batumi. She was traveling to France, joining her husband in Constantinople, Turkey on the way. It was here that Meri took part in a beauty contest and won.

"You got married that night, Meri"... Nobody knows precisely who this poem was dedicated to. Every Georgian associates the image of Galaktion's "Meri" with Meri Shervashidze's name.

Meri Shervashidze's remembered as being tall, well-built with dark straw-coloured eyes and chestnut coloured hair, never laughing, only smiling. She had a very narrow circle of friends but everyone who knew her noted her modesty, humbleness and gentleness.

In Paris, Meri Shervashidze settled down in the prestigious sixteenth district in the Rue de La Tour near Boulogne forest. For a while the family endured hardships. Meri's mother, Nino Mkheidze and her twin sisters, Elene and Tamar lived together with Meri. Nino began to work at one of the famous sewing workshops. After some time the family managed to open a saloon of their own. At this time Meri Shervashidze became the Coco Chanel model. The worldly Parisians particularly noted Meri's style of dress as well as her ability to manifest the beauty bestowed on her by God. Meri's portrait, painted by the famous artist Saveli Sorin, hangs in the palace of the Prince of Monaco (even though the painter had dedicated the picture to the Georgians).

In 1935, in France, Galaktion Tabidze happened to see Meri Shervashidze by chance. She was sitting in a park in front of the Louvre and was even more beautiful than ever. After this, the poet dedicated a number of poems to Meri Shervashidze.

Gigusha Eristavi passed away at an early age, leaving Meri with no heirs so she raised her sister's children, Constantine and Nino.

Meri Shervashidze spent the last years of her life in a nursing home. Meri died at the age of 97, retaining her beauty, nobleness and stateliness until the last day of her life.

Nani Bregvadze

The Queen of Georgian and Russian romance

"Paradoxically, a Georgian singer hols the key to Russian romances. There are lots of Russian-born romance singers, of course, but none of them will outshine Bregvadze… Full of royal dignity, with irreproachable manners and taste, she conveys the very soul of the romance as perhaps no one else does"- Nina Yakhontova

Nani Georgievna Bregvadze was born On July 21, 1938 in Tbilisi, Georgia. She grew up in a family where music was much loved and esteemed.

"I've been signing ever since I learnt to speak. At six I sang the romance "Kalitka". How the adults laughed! I understood not a word in Russian but intended to "put all my soul into it". My future profession was in my genes".

After ending of musical school has arrived in musical technical school, and then became the student of the V. Saradzhishvili Tbilisi State Conservatory on a class of a piano (1958-1963).

1956 - solist of Orchestra of Tbilisi Politechnical Institute. 1959-1964 - soloist of the Tbilisi State Orchestra "Rero". 1964 - 1980 soloist of the rocking vocal group "Orera".

Later Nani made separate careers. She became the popular Russian romance singer of Georgian descent. Incidentally, Nani's daughter Eka Mamaladze followed in her mother's footsteps and probably so will her granddaughter.

Nani Bregvadze is the People's Artists of the USSR (1983) and the People's Artist of Georgia (1974). Memorial stars in her honour were unveiled on the Star Square near the Kremlin in Moscow and in the Georgian capital Tbilisi.

Nona Gaprindashvili

The Queen of Chess
Nona Gaprindashvili was born on May 3, 1941, in Zugdidi, in Georgia.

She became the Women's World Champion in 1962, when she won the title from Elizaveta Bykova by a score of 9-2. Gaprindashvili went on to dominate the women's international chess scene, and remained Women's World Champion for 16 years! She finally lost the title to another Georgian, 17-year-old Maia Chiburdanidze, in 1978, losing by the score 8-1/2 to 6-1/2.

During her career Gaprindashvili successfully competed in men's tournaments, winning (amongst others) the Hastings Challengers tournament in 1963/4 and tying for first place at Lone Pine in 1977. In 1978 she became the first woman to be made an (unqualified) International Grandmaster — having been a Women's Grandmaster since 1962.

Gaprindashvili is one of only a few women who could compete realistically in top level tournaments dominated by male grandmasters.

Nino (Nina) Ananiashvili

One of the Greatest Ballerinas of all time. Prima-balerina of American Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet and etc.

Nino Gedevanovna Ananiashvili was born on March 28, 1963 in Tbilisi, Georgia. Her father, Gedevan, and two older brothers, George and Levan, are geologists. Her mother, Lia Gogolashvili, is a philologist. Because Nino was often sick as a child, her parents decided to enroll her in figure skating lessons in order to improve her health. By the time she was six years old, Nino was a ranked skater, and at ten became Georgia State champion in the junior division.

In 1969 Ananiashvili entered the Georgia State Choreographic Institute. Tamara Vykhodtseva was her first teacher there. The great Vakhtang Chabukiani also took little Nina under his wings. Her progress was so impressive that it drew the attention of teachers from the Moscow Choreographic Institute, who convinced her parents to allow Nina to continue her studies there. In 1976 Nino was accepted at the Moscow State Choreographic Institute.

In 1980 she won the Gold Medal (junior group) at the 10th International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria. In 1981, dancing with Andris Liepa, Ananiashvili won the Grand Prix (junior group) at the IV International Ballet Competition in Moscow.

Nino Ananiashvili graduated from the Moscow Choreographic Institute in 1981 and was accepted into the Bolshoi corps de ballet.

During the 1983-87 seasons Ananiashvili added Giselle, The Nutcracker, Don Quixote, Raymonda, Le Spectre de la Rose and Romeo and Juliet to her repertoire.

In 1985 she won the Gold Medal (senior group) at the Vth International Ballet Competition in Moscow and was made a principal dancer of the Bolshoi Ballet the same year.

In 1986, Nino Ananiashvili and Andris Liepa were awarded the Grand Prix at the IIIrd USA International Ballet Competition at Jackson, Mississippi, USA.

In 1988, Ananiashvili and Liepa became the first Soviet dancers to be invited to guest with the New York City Ballet. There, Nina danced the lead in Raymonda Variations, Apollo and Symphony in C.

Nino Ananiashvili didn't forget her native city either. She first danced in Tbilisi in 1983 while only a soloist with the Bolshoi, appearing in Swan Lake and in Chabukiani's version of Don Quixote partnered by Yuri Vasyuchenko. Later she danced Giselle, La Sylphide, and other ballets with the Tbilisi company.

While performing with the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden, Ananiashvili worked closely with Kenneth MacMillan, dancing in his Prince of the Pagodas and Romeo and Juliet. In London she also performed Symphony in C, The Nutcracker, Ashton's La Fille Mal Gardee and Cinderella, Fokine's Firebird, among others.

Ananiashvili has appeared as a guest artist with the Rome Opera Ballet, La Scala Ballet, Royal Swedish Ballet, Ballet de Monte Carlo, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Boston Ballet, Munich Ballet, Tokyo Ballet, with the National Theaters of Norway, Finland, Portugal, with Belgrade Ballet, Sofia Ballet, Hungarian National Ballet and with Goteborg Ballet.

In 1993, Nino Ananiashvili became a principal dancer with American Ballet Theater.

In 1999, Ananiashvili became a principal of Houston Ballet where she danced in Manon and in Ben Stevenson's Three Preludes and The Sleeping Beauty.

On Nino's initiative, the Bolshoi acquired an evening of Balanchine ballets in 1999. At the premiere of the Balanchine programme at the Bolshoi, she danced both Mozartiana and the second movement of Symphony in C.

In 2000, Ananiashvili and Fadeyechev established their own company, the Moscow Dance Theater.

Nino has decided to cancel all her performances for the rest of 2005.

Now she is an artistic director of State Ballet of Georgia.


See also:

Leila Abashidze, Elene Akhvlediani, Sofiko Chiaureli, Lia Eliava, Tamar Gverdtsiteli, Sofo Khalvashi, Liana Isakadze, Medea Japaridze, Keti Melua, Nino Machaidze, Leila Meskhi, Tamara Tumanishvili, Nino Ramishvili, Rusudan Petviashvili, Salome Zurabishvili,




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