Shouakhevi, Ajara, August 2007

Forum Activities

Cultural Caucasus International Movement continues conducting forums for peaceful coexistence, tolerance, respect and understanding in the states of South Caucasus.

In 2007 Shouakhevi, Ajara hosted the fourth international intercultural forum. Shouakhevi is a picturesque beautiful place with pure healthy air and untouched nature. It is located in the mountains of Ajara in the gorges of Skhalta-Khikhani and Maretti.

Mountainous region of Ajara was chosen as the venue for the fourth intercultural forum for its indigenous multicultural environment where different ethnic groups and religions stillcoexist in tolerance, understanding and peace.

The international group was accommodates in the center of Shouakhevi region with the families of Nodari Davitatze, Nargiz Putkaradze, Otari Tsinaridze, and Zurabi Davitadze. Those kind people were happy to accept people from different states of South Caucasus in their families and showed up a cordial hospitality to the guests.

Staying with the host families created wider possibilities for the participants to experience cultural elements specific to that region, including:

  • Applied arts and crafts (pottery, goldsmith, embroidery, wood carving)
  • Vernacular architecture (culture of wooden houses, panning of dwelling houses, farmstead )
  • Oral histories about the place, people, etc.
  • Traditions and customs (religious holidays, national celebrations, culture of hospitality)
  • Local production (corn, winery, tobacco, textile industry)

Like in previous forums the priorities of the group remained:

  • Cleaning and beatification of the historic sites and monuments. In this respect the group visited Okropilauri fortress, Khemshiashvili fortress, old arched stone bridges specific to that region in Phurtio, Makhunseti, and Dandalo for cleaning.
  • Communication with local people and experiencing different cultural elements. The group visited many villages of Shouakhevi region, among them Nigazeuli, Khinchauri, Brili, Dabadzveli. In Nigazeuli we visited the museum of Semin Khemshiashvili – the national hero of Ajara having closer interaction with the history of the place. In Nigazeuli we visited some families (Abashidze, Putkaradze, Tsekhvladze). We got to know their daily life, habits, crafts, houses, tasted home-made delicious food. The villagers granted some pieces of local crafts to the museum of Cultural Caucasus.

Cultural Caucasus Museum

Many different things “donated” by the participants and the local people accumulated creating kind of a museum. The museum enriched also with the synergy of our collaborative creative efforts.

A good cultural experience for the group was participation in the religious holiday Mariamoba celebrated in Khinchauri village, which attracted all the population of Shouakhevi. We enjoyed a real Georgian chorus and a Georgian party.

The group also visited a new established textile workshop in Shouakhevi. The specialists from Tbilisi came here to train the local women and young ladies to make “pardaki” (Georgian for a small rug hang on the wall – an element of interior design, shawls, and the techniques of composing patterns).

The forum in Shouakhevi was enriched with a novelty – workshops of creative collectivity organized and conducted by the participants themselves.

Arman Tadevosyan, a forum participant from Armenia was facilitating crafts workshop. We started the process from the very beginning. The locals helped us to find and dig out the clay in Brili village (the name of the village means clay in Georgian). The participants together with the locals with great excitement were modeling different figures symbolizing peace, human friendship and trust. They produced also some souvenirs and crockery. Later we burned the pottery in the open fire, which attracted all the villagers of all ages. The burning process turned to be a big celebration – a party with presentations of national dance and ethnic cuisine. Half-broken and half-burnt pottery came out really good. On our way back the Georgian custom house was blaming us for illegal export of antique pieces of national history. Good job!

Alexey Manukyan, another participant of the Forum from Armenia was facilitating art workshop. The participants of the workshop were provided with the canvases, paints and freedom in creativity. It was a pleasure observing people mixing up the paints and putting them on the canvases with their fingers instead of brushes. The workshop opened up people, they were fully sincere, open and free in their feelings and emotions, like little kids. They were absolutely absorbed by the creative process and freedom of expression united with their deepest feelings and desire for peaceful creative coexistence for common welfare in South Caucasus.

People of different ages, social groups, nationalities, religions and beliefs came together for common work and creativity. The synergy of their work (clean historic sites, pottery, canvases and the most important – their cleaned and treated souls and hearts) became symbols of peaceful coexistence and cultural integrity for everyone’s’ good in South Caucasus.


Participants Cultural Records