The Gravestone of Bishop Parthenoz of Kharchashani

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Ekaterine Kvachatadze


The Chapel of Divinity, built as a family mausoleum for bishop Parthenoz of Kharchashani, is located near the village of Pichkhovani in Akhmeta municipality. North-west of the church interior houses a long and narrow crypt underneath the floor. It serves as the tomb of Bishop Parthenoz of Kharchashani. A gravestone laid on the floor above the crypt depicts a relief of Bishop Parthenoz. It is now preserved inside the palatine chapel of the King Erekle II in Telavi.

According to the building's inscription, the bishop of Kharchashani, the “teacher of teachers Parthenoz” died on May 3, 1713. Therefore, we can claim with confidence that the gravestone should also be dated back to 1713.

The gravestone of Parthenoz of Kharchashani consists of a large rectangular grey tile (255x76x21cm). The lifesized depiction of the Bishop almost fills the entire area of the surface showing Parthenoz dressed in episcopal vestments. The relief sculpture is executed with highly refined artistic skills and great mastery. It stands as one of the examples of a professional stream of the 18th century relief sculptures.

Unfortunately, the written sources provide rather scarce information about the bishop. The unique appearance of the tomb indicates at his noble origin, possibly from the Cholokashvili family. It is worth noting that Akhmeta was the land inherited by the Cholokashvilis and a few of the bishops of Kharchashani belonged to this family.

As noted earlier, we know of no analogous tomb from Medieval period found in Georgia. Stylistically it stands closer to contemporary mural paintings and the later embroidered tomb covers.

The relief sculpture of the Bishop of Kharchashani is a continuation of the best traditions of relief sculpture of the Middle Ages. These are treasured among the highly distinguished artworks of the so called “Renaissance” (such as Ananuri, David Gareja, the Church of Peter and Paul in Sagarejo, the Deesis of the eastern facade of Svetitskhoveli). Yet, at the same time, the tomb also reveals new secular trends of the time. They are most apparent in the diligently particularized, highly nuanced, and detailed depictions of the figure of the bishop and his vestment. The image along with the monumental experience of a form and high level of generalization well known during the Middle Ages, also bears the individual features of a portrait. In the relief sculpture of the bishop, we can obviously discern those secular tendencies characteristic to the Orthodox art of the time, which refer to orientation towards the European works of art.

Published: Nov 13, 2022

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How to Cite
Kvachatadze, E. (2022). The Gravestone of Bishop Parthenoz of Kharchashani. Academia, 145–156. Retrieved from