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Georgia: Love Your Country, Love Your Chokha

France may be known for its berets, and Spain for its mantillas, but few national costumes are linked to as strong a sense of national pride as Georgia's chokhas.

Dating from the Middle Ages, the chokha is a calf-length, wool coat for men inherent to the Caucasus, distinguishable by the bandoliers sewn across the breast and its tapered waist cut. Accessories typically include a hood, tall leather boots and a belt holding a long, embossed dagger, called a khanjali.

But this is no party costume. Nearly every Georgian household has photos of ancestors adorned in chokhas.

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Justyna Mielnikiewicz and Paul Rimple

Georgian Poetry at Cardiff University

The language of Shota Rustaveli filled a packed auditorium at a multilingual gathering in Cardiff University on 25th September, 2009.

One of NKTA’s members, Russell Travenen Jones, who has studied the notoriously tricky Georgian language, read some Georgian poetry to a very appreciative audience of EU representatives, academics, and students from all over the globe.

Cardiff School of European Studies came up with the idea of an international poetry reading to mark the European Day of Languages, a Council of Europe initiative designed to celebrate linguistic diversity. The European Day of Languages, which has been celebrated since 2001, is an attempt to promote language learning, and a way of achieving greater inter-cultural understanding.

Russell, who is currently studying for an MA in Translation Studies at Cardiff University, was gratified to discover that, of all the languages featured in the event – some eighteen in total (he also read the Hungarian national poem A walesi bárdok at the gathering) – Georgian attracted the most interest and greatest number of comments. In a reception which followed the reading, he spoke to several members of the audience about Georgia, its people, culture and language, and was able to promote the activities of the Newport Kutaisi Twinning Association.

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The Georgian Dance Experience

Every time we have visited Kutaisi we have experienced the beautiful spectacle of Georgian Dance. From a young age the dancers are taught the brilliant rhythmic and acrobatic routines that are currently drawing in huge crowds on New York’s Broadway.

Georgian dance is generally characterized by the graceful floating gait of the female dancers. With bodies erect and leaning very slightly forward, the women create lovely formations and turns in an appearance that has been said to form the illusion of ice skating along the floor. The hand, arm and head movements are flowing and gentle while travelling in this quick floating manner. The modern dress is commonly a floor length gown fitted at the torso and long sleeved, in a solid usually pastel colour. A type of pillbox hat is worn with a veil attached to the back. 

The most characteristic element of the male Georgian dance is the acrobatic, or gymnastic movements including knee spins, aerial cartwheels, splits and kicks and many other such feats. But the most amazing to most viewers is the fast and varied manner of dancing on the knuckles of the toes. The dancers wear soft soled boots and often jump continually on the toe knuckle, with the body straight and strong, the arms in a very heroic posture, the men often shout or proudly stare as they do this spectacular feat. It is said that it is done in preparation for battle, to show virility to the commanding officer and others. The men's costuming consists of a long, almost knee length jacket with long sleeves which are sometimes rolled up or may hang well below the hand. Two of the most prominent features of the Georgian men's costuming is the tall fur hat and the eight little pockets on each side of the jacket breast, containing ammunition cartridges. The colours for the jacket are usually dark often black, grey, brown or a dark red often adorned with medals or braid or gold trim, with dark tight fitting pants, darkshirt and the straight leather boots.

The Georgian State Company

The website to this popular Broadway show states that the company specializes in Georgian dance and music and is committed to studying and accurately representing the folk traditions and their evolution into contemporary forms. It continues:This ensemble of traditional music and dance emphasizes elegance, its dancers and musicians bring to the audience a love of their homeland, the Republic of Georgia on the Black Sea. Work of the ensemble is devoted to practicing, presenting and transmitting to others the living cultural legacy of the folk Georgian arts. All dances and music are performed with strict adherence to the traditions, evolved over centuries. At the same time performance of the Georgian dancers, New York, USA is part of the living tradition and includes contemporary interpretations by traditional artists. 


The Georgian National Ballet was founded by Iliko Sukhishvili and Nino Ramishvili in 1945 (right) and was initially named as "The Georgian State Dance Company". It was the first professional state dance company in Georgia. Many other companies were founded on their example.

Click on image to go to dance footageClick on the picture to your left to view footage of the Georgian