The Khakhuli dome decoration : eschatological and historical contexts

Title: The Khakhuli dome decoration : eschatological and historical contexts
Variant title:
  • Dekorace kupole v Khakhuli : eschatologický a historický kontext
Source document: Convivium. 2021, vol. 8, iss. Supplementum 1, pp. [44]-63
  • ISSN
    2336-3452 (print)
    2336-808X (online)
Type: Article
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The complex decorative program in the dome of the main church at the Khakhuli Monastery features a combination of eschatological symbols and historical references. The iconography of the Apparition of the Cross, which usually carries triumphal and eschatological connotations, is also associated with a historical context that recalls the fulfilment of the Conversion of Kartli. In the Khakhuli dome, the Ascension of the Prophet Elijah, presented alongside the Vision of the Cross, further emphasizes the "national" context of the Georgian Orthodox Church, alluding to one of Georgia's most precious preserved relics – Elijah's Mantle buried in the Svet'itskhoveli Cathedral in Mtskheta together with the "unwoven Chiton" of Christ. The reference in Khakhuli to the former capital of Kartli, the "New Jerusalem" of Georgia, has both symbolic and political connotations, as it demonstrates the spiritual unity of Georgia and anticipates the ideas of its political unification. The reference to one of the most important Old Testament relics, which was considered a palladium of medieval Georgia, may also reflect the political aspirations of the Georgian ruler vis-à-vis his counterpart in the neighboring Byzantine Empire.