A woman riding a horse wearing a typical Tushetian outfit, which is worn nowadays only during particular occasions. The ancient traditions and the call of the ancestors are the forces that have kept Tushetian people to stay
connected to their land, even though it is an inhospitable place. Their seasonal return
to these remote areas, is a return to tradition, a rediscover of their roots and a way to defend their identity
against the passing time and modernity.
A shepherd leads his flock on the mountain. Traditionally the Tushetian are sheep herders. Due to the tough living conditions of their land, a semi-nomadic lifestle has developed. Many Tushetian families
began to move southwards from Tusheti during the first half of the nineteenth century and settled in the
low-lying fields of Alvani, at the western end of Kakheti. Nevertheless every summer many of these families
still go back with their flocks of sheep high up in the mountains, to the old villages to pay homage to their
ancestors and to celebrate their traditions passing them across generations. They fight against the
modernization and even literally against invaders from neighboring regions to preserve their unique heritage.
The Tushetian sheep lives in nomadic conditions and can cover a distance of about 500-600 km from winter to summer pastures and return.
Kako, a Tushetian man, is shaving outside his house in a sort of outdoor toilette. He, and his wife Eliko, are one of the few remaining families to live in Shenako all year round. Due to the inaccessibility of the place many comfort are not available. Here electricity is a scarce and valuable good as well as running water in the houses. Tushetian life is simple but tough.
A Tushetian old man in his house in Shenako while eating a typical meal. Tushetian cuisine is basically made of what they can produce on the mountains. Almost everything is home made: bread, cheese (called “Guda”), meat, Khinkali (boiled dumplings filled with finely chopped grinded pieces of meat), khachapuri (cheese bread), vegetable.
Despite meat and dairy products being the basis of the Tushetian cusine, plants and herbs are largely used in preparing the meals. The Tushetians know well the nutrient and medical properties of wild herbs, which serve them in their migratory life style.
Kheme an inhabitant of Shenako, leads a ram to the “khati” shrine
(sacrificial altar) during Atengenoba festival. This is part of an ancient Tushietian animistic rituals which take place in summer. Tushetian people come back to their ancestor’s villages to pay homage to their traditions which are integral part of their identity. Atengenoba is an ancient festival which takes place around 100 days after Easter in the villages of Tusheti.
A wedding ceremony in traditional Tushetian outfit, is going on in the only Christian Orthodox church of Tusheti. Tushetian people are mainly Georgian Orthodox Christian in religion, but their culture has retained elements of Georgia’s pre-Christian beliefs and pagan practices still persist.
A young guy on a horse. Tushetian horses are an important part of Tusheti’s cultural heritage and needs to be preserved. They are a kind of horse small in size, but very strong. They are the trustworthy companion of mountain people and nomadic herders.
Some Tushetian children enjoying themselves on the slopes of the Tusheti National Park near Shenako, when a mysterious light suddenly illuminates the valley. This area, on the northern slopes of the greater Caucasus mountains, bordered by the Russian republics of Chechnya and Dagestan, is one of the most ecologically unspoiled territories in the Caucasus. During winter time the frequent snowfalls completely insulate the region from the rest of the world. The people who are still living here must be totally autonomous for at least 7-8 months a year.
Some people relaxing in Shenako in a summer day. Due to the hard living conditions of the area, many Tushetian families began to move southwards from Tusheti during the first half of the nineteenth century and settled in the low-lying fields of Alvani at the western end of Kakheti. Many of these families come back every summer to their ancestor’s village. Here a typical Tusheti house built with traditional dry stone walls. At the end of 19th century, the architecture changed. Traditional tower-houses were partially replaced with typical houses of the lowlands with balcony.
A young girl wearing a typical Tushetian outfit during a banquet in the forest of Tusheti. This region is one of the
most ecologically unspoiled territories in the Caucasus.Here forest is full of wild animals such as wolves and bears.
Women preparing Kinkali, a typical Georgian food, similar to dumplings. The Tushetian rhythm of life is defined by ancient customs. Men and women spend most of their time separated and with a distinct distribution of tasks.
Landscape by night of Shenako, one of the small villages in Tusheti. The inaccessibility of the land preserved the mysterious atmosphere of the place, which seems not to be touched by modern conveniences:
here electricity is a scarce and valuable good. Candles are still commonly used. As the night falls at Shenako village the community comes together around a fire in a meadow in front of the church.