DER Documentary

The Feast-Day of Tamar and Lashari


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by Hugo Zemp
color, 73 min, 1998



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The Pshavi people of the eastern mountains of the Republic of Georgia perform a ritual which can be characterized as a syncretism of ancient polytheistic beliefs and Orthodox Christian faith, but which is qualified by city habitants of Tbilisi as "pagan". The ritual of Tamar and Lashari celebrates queen Tamar (12-13th century) and her son Lasha, deified by the mountain dwellers.

Each year, and for three days, on the hillside of a Caucasus valley, pilgrims consecutively meet at two sanctuaries consecrated to these deities and worship them through prayers, songs and sacrifices, enjoying at the same time food and happy chats with friends they have not seen for a year. In addition to prayers and sacrifices by a shrine priest, religious songs are an essential part of the ritual.

The purpose of this film is not to isolate the most archaic elements, nor to reconstitute an idealized image of a polytheistic ritual of the past, but it is to show the multiple dimensions of the festival as it happened in July 1991. Several centuries-old songs could be heard there, but also profane music, traditional and modern, rural and urban, oriental and occidental music.

This film is also available as part of the Music of Georgia (Caucasus) Series.

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
First Video Prize, 9th International Festival of Ethnographic Films ("Music and Rites"), Nuoro, Italy, 1998
Prize for Outstanding Documentation, Pärnu International Documentary Film Festival, Estonia, 2000

Related Resources
Study Guide

Related Films
Funeral Chants from the Georgian Caucasus
Duduki of Tbilisi
The Feast in Dream Village
Horses of Life and Death
The Feast (Yanomamo)


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