In general, it should be said that in Tbilisi there are many unusual sculptures and monuments. In part, this is a consequence of the long stay of the republic as part of the Soviet Union. The rules of the game in the Soviet empire were very intricate. Often in the national provinces flourished such forms of art, which in the capital could not even dream of. For - bezdedeyschina and formalism.
But the national leaders liked to “insert a wick” in trifles to the ideological department of the Central Committee of the CPSU, while appealing to the fact that art is, although it is socialist in content, but still national in form. In the development of this national identity, several masters in each union republic were allowed some creative freedom. At the same time, new techniques gradually became permitted in other republics of the indestructible Union. So mosaic and chasing came into fashion. So on the fraternal cemeteries of Ukraine and Russia appeared very schematic figures of fallen soldiers and grieving mothers. Of course, copied not from the sculptures of Siddur or the Unknown, but from the works of Jokubonis - for sure.
Currently, the unusual nature of many monuments in Georgia is aggravated by the absence of any explanatory tablets. Sometimes there is an inscription in Georgian - that's all. And sometimes - and there is no inscription. I have to guess. And there is no guarantee that the guess will be correct. Because the small details or symbols that mark the heroes of national history or national epos are not known to those who grew up not in Georgia. Such little things are learned since childhood.
For example, I heard with my ears how the above-mentioned sculpture, where a tiger and a young man entwined in a deadly battle, the guide urged tourists that the sculpture depicts a duel between Mother Georgia and its many enemies. Although the naked eye could see the absence of any kind of female articles in a struggling man. However, the guide can explain his explanations. He was from a country far from Georgia. Just as tourists led by them, for whom Georgia was hitherto unknown, and they trustfully took all the stories of the guide.
To the credit of a not quite competent guide, I must say that Mother Georgia appeared in his story for a reason. The author of the sculptural group he was talking about is a Georgian sculptor Elguja Amashukeli (1928 - 2002). In Tbilisi, a lot of his work. Including the famous monument to the founder of Tbilisi, Vakhtang Gorgasali, in the center of the city on the high bank of the Kura, a monument to the native language not far from the “Dry Bridge” and mother Georgia, who had risen above the city with a sword for enemies and a cup for friends. Both of these sculptures are memorable to everyone who has ever been to Tbilisi. In general, the tour guide learned the lesson, but confused it a little.
However, the “explanatory note”, according to which it was possible to “read”, what this monument is still dedicated to and why the young knight is fighting the tiger, was written with a draw of Georgian letters on a pedestal. The letters were some very long text. But - alas and ah! - there was no translation in either Russian or English.
Another duel of a young man with a wild predator came to mind immediately. In the poem of M. Yu. Lermontov “Mtsyri” there is a scene of a fight with a leopard. The sculpture was erected in Soviet times, in 1984. One could, of course, consider this sculpture a peculiar monument to Lermontov. This version seemed to be romantic, but it was unlikely to be true.
Fortunately, from another guide, a nice girl, born in Tbilisi, I did find out what this monument depicts. And he depicts the plot of the folk ballad of the 9th or 10th century "Tiger and youth" ("Vepkhvi yes Mokme"). This ballad in Georgia is very popular and loved. Based on her, a poem of the same name was written by a Georgian poet. Vazha Pshavela (1861−1915).
Neither the poem by Vazha Pshavela, nor the ballad itself has been translated into Russian. The content of "Vepkhvi da Mokme" can be judged by the interlinear translation of the ballad into English, which was made in 1958.
The content of the ballad is. The young hunter met with a tiger in the forest. They fought for a long time, and both died. The body of the tiger remained in the forest, and the body of the young man was brought to his home. Mother sobbed over the lost son. And suddenly, the crying mother utters these words: “Or maybe the mother of the tiger cries and laments me more, I will go to her and offer her my condolences. Cry with her. "
To tell the truth, it’s hard to imagine such a turn of this sad legend. And, perhaps, it is precisely this kind of completion that says a lot about the national character of Georgians. Probably only a small people, tormented on both sides by mighty empires and therefore not too often rejoiced in victories, could come to the conclusion that the defeated enemy was also a person who had a mother and family, worthy of condolences. And that even the winner should adhere to the loser of the noble code of mutual respect.
It is quite possible that the episode of the fight against the leopard in the poem by M. Yu. Lermontov “Mtsyri” was inspired by this ballad. But the hero of the poem, having become the winner in a fierce battle, experiences very different feelings and behaves quite differently. Which is understandable: he is a young man, he is young, impatient and romantically does not put his own life into anything, and a stranger’s life is even more so. And this is not surprising. After all, a novice who escaped from the monastery wrote off a 26-year-old man with an exorbitant vanity, a Russian nobleman, a military officer and a genius poet.