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Georgian alphabet heritage of Humanity

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, December 2
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) added the Georgian alphabet to the list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The decision was made at the eleventh session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which took place in the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa Conference Centre in Addis Ababa, from 28 November to 2 December 2016.

The Georgian delegation including Georgia’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to France and Permanent Representative to UNESCO Ekaterine Siradze-Delone, Director of the International Cultural and Humanitarian Relations Department Ketevan Kandelaki, Director General of the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation Nikoloz Antidze and respective experts, who took part in the work of the Committee.

The nomination was submitted to UNESCO for consideration in 2015. The main goal was to underline the harmonic co-existence of three alphabets.

UNESCO says that the evolution of Georgia’s written language has produced three alphabets – Mrgvlovani, Nuskhuri and Mkhedruli – which all remain in use today.

Mrgvlovani was the first alphabet from which Nuskhuri was derived, with Mkhedruli following some time later.

“The alphabets coexist thanks to their different cultural and social functions, reflecting an aspect of Georgia’s diversity and identity, their ongoing use in a cultural sense, also gives communities a feeling of continuity,” the statement of UNESCO reads.

UNESCO says that the Mrgvlovani and Nuskhuri alphabets are practiced and taught informally predominately by the community of the Georgian Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church while Georgia’s educational system, however, is based on the Mkhedruli alphabet.

“Taught in primary and high school, the Mkhedruli alphabet is also transmitted informally in the home from older to younger generations. The Mrgvlovani and Nuskhuri alphabets are taught at schools in Georgia but at a basic level,” the statement of UNESCO reads.

Georgia’s President, Giorgi Margvelashvili, congratulated Georgians on the achievement.

“I congratulate the Georgian people on recognition of Georgia’s three alphabets. Our mission is the continuation of our ancestors, who took care of our alphabets and transmitted them from generation to generation,” the statement of the President reads.

Georgia’s Foreign Minister, Mikheil Janelidze, also congratulated the people of the country.

“This fact underlines that Georgia is a country of great history and culture,” said Janelidze.