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Reviving the past

REVIVING THE PAST

MUZARADI USES ANCIENT FABRICS

By Sopo Kevkhishvili

IERI Store is a space where the past is appreciated and the future is determined. Here, you will see vintage carpets from 1932 along with the latest collections by contemporary designers. The latest collaboration between Muzaradi brand and Art Palace Museum is a clear illustration of our concept.

Ketevan Kherkheulidze. Photo by George Kardava for Kommersant

Established by Ketevan Kherkheulidze Muzaradi is an accessories brand that creates headpieces inspired by ancient Georgian warrior helmets. Ketevan Kherkheulidze started her brand in 2017, and surprisingly, the hoods and headpiece made quite a splash on social media, which encouraged her to start a brand. Newly founded Muzaradi attracted a lot of media attention, both for its refined design and a meaningful idea behind it, which lies in reviving Georgian past – the brand’s name is translated as a helmet, and its logo exemplifies a coat of arms of the Kherkheulidze family.

Ketevan Kherkheulidze, willing to add more glimpse of Georgian history to her brand, started working on a new project and collaborated with Art Palace, which was inspired by TBC bank though.

Art Palace of Georgia. Photo by an unknown author for Google Arts and Culture

Art Palace Museum was built in 1882 by Prince Oldenburg as a family home for his beloved wife Agraphina Japaridze. Designed by an Italian architect Paul Stern, Art Palace originally represented a palace of most uncharacteristic architecture for Tbilisi. Currently though, Art Palace is a state museum of Georgian theater, music, cinema and choreography, which exhibits more than 300,000 objects.

For the project/collaboration, Ketevan Kherkheulidze visited Art Palace and explored “Textile from Georgia”, a book telling the stories and exploring the origins of Georgian textile fabrics and patterns. Under this collaboration, Muzaradi created headpieces with the patterns from ancient Georgian Fabrics, restored by the Art Palace team.

IERI team has recently had a chat with Ketevan Kherkheulidze. In the interview [below], the designer provides a detailed overview of Muzaradi’s latest collaboration with the Art Palace and introduces Moodboard readers to the brand’s exciting upcoming projects.

         How did you discover the book “Textile from Georgia” and why did you decide to participate in a project by TBC Bank and the Art Palace Museum?

         TBC Bank contacted me and suggested collaborating with the Art Palace Museum. Since I am mostly abroad and often feel nostalgic about my home country, Georgian culture-inspired projects are of  particular importance for me. I deeply value such projects and always have warm sentiments for them. Learning about TBC’s offer – creating headpieces, which  feature patterns of ancient Georgian fabrics – I felt thrilled and honored, and started working on the project with pleasure.

         The book “Textile from Georgia” features myriads of fabrics. How did you select fabrics and patterns for your collection? Was there a particular selection criterium that you followed?

         True, the book presents numerous beautiful fabrics. Honestly, I did not follow any specific criteria during the selection process; however, I paid particular attention to the aesthetics of each pattern. Although it was extremely difficult to choose ornaments, I still managed to select ten exquisite patterns for this limited edition.

I should also note that I was pleasantly surprised after discovering so many colorful garments, which were apparently, worn by our ancestors. I love playing with colors and such a rich color palette [of fabrics] gave me room for plenty of  experiments and creativity.  

         Have you ever co-worked with other brands/companies before? 

         Generally speaking, I find collaborative projects as an issue of delicacy. My potential working partner and I should have similar creative viewpoints and strongly agree on certain aspects. Finding a partner with such bonds is quite hard – that is exactly why I seldom collaborate. 

My first collaboration was with Ria Keburia Gallery and three other artists, Anya Mokhova, Elena Tarabakina, and Marousia Nizovtseva. We staged an interesting performance “Dom Moi Mili Dom (XI)” in Moscow.

My second collaboration was with Sopho Gongliashvili. This project was quite spontaneous – once I visited Sopho, and after having an informal conversation,  suggested her working on a mutual project. Sopho agreed and specially for this project, collected some sketches that have never been turned to jewelry pieces and ornaments from her previous works – each having an interesting story behind. Soon, we released Muzaradi headpieces featuring Sofio Gonli’s beautiful patterns. This limited edition can be purchased exclusively at IERI STORE. 

       Do you plan to work on other collaborative projects in the future? 

       Yes, the rest is yet to come. Currently, I am working as a costume designer for a project by Sarajishvili, Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra, Zagareli, and Muzaradi. This project aims at recording Georgian songs and later on, releasing vinyls.  Tato Kotetishvili shoots a teaser for this project, which, along with other interesting details, features Muzaradi new headpieces.

I also plan to start co-working with a French street artist Alexandre Bavard, who is well-known for his graffiti and worldwide performances/installations. 

 

       Besides the classic headpieces, Muzaradi also offers a wide selection of hats, T-shirts, raincoats, bags, and headbands. Do you aim at adding more pieces to the collections?

       Muzaradi’s classical headpiece can be seen as a foundation of the brand’s concept. Also, it is Muzaradi’s  main accessory, which, regardless of the season, is always in high demand. 

The rest of Muzaradi products, though, vary from season to season and are created in accordance with demand. Normally, I create pieces upon necessity for myself. In case if a particular piece gets popular, I add it to the Muzaradi collection. For instance, amid the pandemics, I tailored a face mask. As the mask invited much public interest, I decided to create more of such pieces. Soon, Muzaradi face masks will be available in IERI STORE. The top priority for Muzaradi is the quality and functionality of the products.

     Muzaradi has been on market for nearly four years already. What do you consider the brand’s biggest achievement? 

I am delighted that Georgian people know Muzaradi and love the brand. The demand on our headpieces is quite high in Georgia. For me personally, such a positive attitude from Georgians is Muzaradi’s  top achievement. I am proud of this success

IERI team has also reached George Kalandia, a professor of history, director of the Art Palace Museum and co-author of “Textile from Georgia”, who speaks about the book, discusses the significance of Georgian fabrics and presents Art Palace’s other interesting collaborations.

Giorgi Kalandia in the Art Palace. Photo credits to artpalace.ge

         What is the idea behind your project?

         The main aim of our project was the revival of the unique Georgian fabrics that our history stores from VIII, XV, XVI centuries. Those fabrics are extremely fragile and the only way to showcase them to the audience is to expose them. In order for those fabrics to become part of people’s lives, we had to come up with a solution: in the world today, which is full of museums, people are no longer satisfied with the window displays. They actually want to feel and touch the history! 

For that reason we had collected all valuable materials preserved in our museum, as well as the ones featuring on Georgian frescoes and soon, started experimenting with them. We had a team of painters, designers and painter-restorers, who worked on this project for over two years. Our team visited a number of churches and monasteries all over Georgia and made copies of the existing frescoes. These copies served as a foundation for an electronic version, which was later transferred onto the fabric. 

Most importantly, we did not transfer painting onto the fabric using any modern method. We wished to discover how our ancestors had been dressed, or dyed their fabrics back then. That is why we used their techniques, including hand-colouring, cold printing, and hand-painting. We had learnt all of these methods and later used them for our project. 

This is exactly why our fabrics are unique: they come in small quantities, and cannot be purchased in bulk – they require much physical effort [to be created]. Furthermore, these fabrics are especially valuable since they represent tangible historic art. After our project had come to life, a number of companies, including TBC and Muzaradi, decided to collaborate with us. We are currently working with these brands.

         The garments presented in the book “Georgian textile” and in the Muzaradi collection are very colorful. Does it have anything to do with Georgian history or some national particularities?

         Historically speaking, Georgians are a very diverse nation and often their costumes are colorful. This diversity is also well illustrated in Georgian royal clothes, each of which comes in only one piece. Back then, the garments were crafted by, let’s call them designers or tailors, who were often present at the royal household. The tailors usually worked on Kings’ outfits. For instance, in this picture you can see King Lasha-Giorgi (son of Queen Tamar), who is wearing Kabacha (a Bizantian dress for men). The ornaments featuring on the crown, clothes and sleeves are quite similar, which gives us a reason to assume that this particular dress had been crafted especially for the King. The design of the garments  is unique since it was never repeated.

Queen Tamar and Lasha-Giorgi

         I have heard a number of ridiculous myths regarding ghosts living in the museum. How do you react to such misbeliefs? 

         We do not do anything about these myths since they only benefit us. Such mystical stories grow public interest towards us, so more people visit our museum. We discussed this matter with our European colleagues, who advised us not to prove the nonexistence of ghosts scientifically. 

We aim to have as many visitors as possible. Sometimes, when people come to see ghosts here, they end up discovering the unique pieces that our museum possesses.

         What inspired you to start working on a project like this?

         As a historian, I always look for different approaches to history. Years ago, movie directors, while working on their films, made research about the costumes of their ancestors, and later, included the garments in their films. They searched for frescoes and historical facts in the literature, which featured such costumes. I found this method, as well as the research very exciting. So basically, this approach to history was my main inspiration for the book.

Costume collection exhibited in Art Palace. Photo credits to Google Arts & Culture

CONCLUSION:

The collaboration between Muzaradi and Art Palace, cherishing Georgian past and presenting an alternative approach to history, is displayed in IERI Store. In order to get a better idea of this collaboration, view our gallery below. Meanwhile, you can visit Art Palace virtually and explore the astonishing collection online.

This pattern was found in the fresco of Beka Jakeli (in the middle) in Sapara, St. Saba monastery. The fresco is dated to the XIV century.

The quote from “Textile from Georgia” book: 

The colour, manner of adornment and decoration make the shirt, worn by Beka Jakeli, special. It is difficult to guess what kind of figures are depicted on the costume’s fabric; however, they are presumably either cherubs or flock of pigeons. The v-neck embroidered piece is thought to have been made of golden thread and pearls. The shirt is longer than the dress – this style of a dress was an old Georgian tradition. Italian missionary Arcangelo Lamberti spoke of this style, indicating that the Georgians had outstanding taste and that their style of dresses was always sophisticated.

This pattern can be seen on the garment, worn by George Chorchaneli, on the fresco in Zarzma Monastery. The fresco is dated to the XVI century.

This pattern can be seen on the garment, worn by George Chorchaneli, on the fresco in Zarzma Monastery. The fresco is dated to the XVI century.

This pattern can be seen in the fresco of Psalm in Samegrelo. The fresco, dated to the XV century, depicts a lady (on the right), who wears a garment featuring these ornaments.

This pattern can be seen in the fresco of Psalm in Samegrelo. The fresco, dated to the XV century, depicts a lady (on the right), who wears a garment featuring these ornaments.

Georgian textile of the XV century is characterised by the freshness of colours and variety of geometric ornamentations. A Venetian traveller Giosafat Barbaro, travelling in Samegrelo, indicated that Samegrelo produces poor quality textile.  In the following centuries however, Georgians extended their production of linen. According to an 18th century english source, Mingrelians had to pay tribute to Turks and give them  sixty thousand ‘eli’ pieces.

. This pattern can be found in the fresco of Levan I, Principal of Samegrelo. The fresco is located in the Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior and is dated to the XVI century.

This pattern can be seen in the fresco of King Alexander III of Imereti and Queen Nestan-Darejan in Gelati Monastery. The fresco is dated to the XVII century.
Royal family members used to wear luxury adorned clothes. This especially festive textile with abundant decorations indicates to the taste of 17th century Georgia.

This pattern can be seen in the fresco of King Alexander III of Imereti and Queen Nestan-Darejan in Gelati Monastery. The fresco is dated to the XVII century.
Royal family members used to wear luxury adorned clothes. This especially festive textile with abundant decorations indicates to the taste of 17th century Georgia.

This pattern can be found in the fresco of Duke of Ksani Shalva, dated to the  XVII century. This is a copy of the fresco, made by Gregory Gagarin.
In this miniature, the duke of Ksani, Shalva, wears a coat made of precious cloth called “Kulaja”. Kulaja was a man’s costume worn by noblemen over the “Akhalukhi”.

 

This pattern can be found in the fresco of Duke of Ksani Shalva, dated to the  XVII century. This is a copy of the fresco, made by Gregory Gagarin.
In this miniature, the duke of Ksani, Shalva, wears a coat made of precious cloth called “Kulaja”. Kulaja was a man’s costume worn by noblemen over the “Akhalukhi”.

 

This flower-shaped detail can be seen on the garment worn by a Ktetor Chikovani in the fresco in the Assumption of the Mother of God Church, Martvili. The fresco is dated to the XVII century.
The textile of the clothes worn by a member of the Chikovani family is distinguished with its colourful and refined ornaments. The colours are sharp but their brightness complements the abundance of flowers.

This pattern can be found in the fresco of King George III (father of Queen Tamar) in Vardzia, dated to the XII century. The King is  wearing a ceremonial apparel with a crossed lorosi, covering the King’s left hand.

This pattern can be found in the fresco of King George III (father of Queen Tamar) in Vardzia, dated to the XII century. The King is  wearing a ceremonial apparel with a crossed lorosi, covering the King’s left hand.

This ornament can be seen in the fresco of Ktetors Kurtsiki and Araba in Zarzma Monastery. The sleeves of the garment worn by Ktetor Kurtsiki feature these patterns. The fresco is dated to the XIV century.

This ornament can be seen in the fresco of Ktetors Kurtsiki and Araba in Zarzma Monastery. The sleeves of the garment worn by Ktetor Kurtsiki feature these patterns. The fresco is dated to the XIV century.