Sunday, March 28, 2010
I made a quick time movie of the trip to visit the incredible caves and frescoes at Davit Gareja, a long mountainous ridge on the border between Georgia and Azerbaijan. But, I have been unable to load it. So a few pictures will have to suffice. This was another trip organized by Rita Prokopenko. We went in a van which provided more comfort. Nana, Giorgi, Gogo, Paata, Rita, and a driver plus Sarah and me.
Pictures were plentiful but I am only going to load a few. The path was narrow. We did not see the plentiful bird life the guidebook promised but this visit was on the first warm sunny day in March so we were too early. I had wanted to see some of the huge eagles and vultures that live in this region.
The picture of the cave entrance with the 53 in green ink on the wall is left over from the times when the Soviet military used these sites for artillery practice. You can see bullet holes in the cliff walls if you look closely.
The frescoes and icons were magical and beautiful and overpowered the graffiti written on them. I am glad we were there at a time when there were so few people as this made it even more special--to be able to feel the silence that this community of monks must have known way back 12-14 hundred years ago.
We probably passed 40-50 separate caves, many with beautiful imagery celebrating various aspects of Christianity, imagery made more beautiful by time. I wondered about the monastic society that lived here. Some caves were simple holes in the cliff. Others were quite elaborate, multi-room affairs with beautiful frescoes everywhere. This suggested some kind of status order to me but I have no idea what this might have been. Anyway, the social order of this ancient society is something I should like to explore further.