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Exhibition Svaneti-Khalde Revolt 1875-1876

By Mariam Chanishvili
Thursday, December 26
Georgian National Museum and Khalde Revival Foundation are presenting the exhibition Svaneti-Khalde Revolt 1875-1876 that will introduce the history of the uprising to the audience for the first time.

The exhibition will be available for the visitors until February 20 at Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia.

The exhibition displayed at the Soviet Occupation hall in Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia, based on archival documentation, ethnographic and photo-video materials, conveys the story of determination and self-sacrifice of inhabitants of a small mountainous village Khalde, and shows freedom-fighters who confronted the Russian imperial power.

The Soviet Occupation Exhibition Hall, located inside the Museum of Georgia since 2006, presents artifacts from 70 years of Soviet power in the country from 1921 until 1991.

The National Liberation Movement in Georgia was active in the first half of the 19th century (Kakheti and Mtiuleti uprisings, ecclesiastical riots in western Georgia). In the second half of the century, the focus shifts to the revival of ethnic self-awareness. This period also includes an uprising in Svaneti, in the village of Khalde, 1875-1876.

The provocation of the conflict came from local prince Tengiz Dadeshkeliani. He made the announcement to the population of the particular place Balszemota - about measuring the lands that would have to be handed over to the Treasury. He was also required to provide information on how many cattle they had - from cows to horses, to dogs and cats (for taxation).

Because of this unconscious intent, the people have also appealed to Dadeshkeliani and Bokauli to act as intermediaries before the government. Dadeshkeliani calmed down the population by making it clear that the population would have to pay nothing and that he would stand by them.

This was the first stage of Svaneti's uprising. After this initial stage, different events took place, tensing and aggravating the situation.

The Russians prepared numerous military expeditions to Tiflis and Kutaisi. A large army arrived at the Lower Svaneti Gate under the leadership of General Tsitovich.

Throughout the whole process, emergency measures had to be taken. The villagers had to find shelter in the glaciers from time to time near the village.

The events of 1876 were as follows: three out of the 19 men who were declared rebels the previous year did not trust the Russians and therefore, could not be captured.

After the revolt, the trial process was very interesting for the Georgian population. Akaki Tsereteli, a famous Georgian poet, assumed the role of Public Defender. Niko Nikoladze, another prominent writer and public figure, raised his voice in defense of the rebels. However, the verdict was unjust and severe.

Unfortunately, no one lives in Khalde today. One can see the remains of ancient towers, reminiscent of the tragedy that struck here a century and a half ago.