Tek'le Badrishvili

Tek’le is from Shuapkho, the largest village in the Pshavi gorge.  As the daughter of a well-known khevisberi,1 she is a wealth of local knowledge. 


As tall and lean as she is straightforward, Tek’le spends most of her time with her cows and her books.  She comes from a family of five sisters and a brother.


''Out of all of my sisters, I am the most strange. They were all very hard workers, and I always loved books.''


Most of her twenty-seven cows died several years ago when a sickness swept through, and her hopes are set high on replenishing the herd soon.


Tek’le reflects on her age: ''I am eighty-five years old. Eighty-five! That’s eighty-five years times twelve months a year. Think about that…! But you know, when I look out at the streets of my village it feels like I was a child yesterday. Just yesterday. This is our ts’utisopeli.''


1A "valley elder" in the northeastern highlands of Georgia. This term historically referred to a local elected leader, responsible for the political and military life of his community. In contrast, a dekanozi was the chozen head priest in charge of the shrines and spiritual life of his highland community. By the 19th century, as the dekanozi began taking on the responsibilities of the khevisberi, the two titles merged into one. Today this leader is responsible for tending to the local mountain shrines. In Khevi, Mtiuleti and Tusheti he is referred to as a dekanozi, whereas Pshavs and Khevsurs use the term khevisberi.

Tek'le Badrishvili - Mtibel Mtibels Gazdzakhoda, Gvrini
+ Song Info

This is a gvrini1 from Pshavi.


To hear other gvrinis, visit the page of Gogale Arabuli.


1The gvrini is a lament from Pshavi and Khevsureti, traditionally sung by men while haying to commemorate the souls of the dead.  George Charachidze talks about the gvrini in his 1968 book, Le système religieux de la Géorgie païenne: analyse structurale d’une civilization, and the following explanation is based on his writing:


Traditionally during a funerary ceremony in Khevsureti or Pshavi a woman is possessed by the dead soul and becomes an oracle through which the soul communicates with the living.  The ensuing lament that the soul communicates through the oracle is silently memorized by the men in attendance, who are not allowed to vocally mourn in any way during the ceremony.  Before the men go out to the fields on the first haying day of the year, a feast is held in the name of the most recently deceased. Only after this ritual feast occurs and only under the supervision of the mountain priest are the men allowed to bring their scythe into contact with the grass.  The Khevsurs and Pshavs believed that the afterlife was under the ground, and therefore that the motion of swinging the scythe close to the ground to cut grass was symbolically entwined with the Land of the Dead.  As the men began to mow on the first haying day of the year, they sang the gvrini that the dead soul communicated to them at his funeral. Through this lament they paid homage to the souls of the dead.

+ Lyrics

Mtibel Mtibels Gazdzakhoda, Gvrini

(scroll down for English translation)


Mtibeli mtibels gazdzakhodae

Qvaris tavidan bachnis tavsae

Tibda da tibda bachanai

Mteli skheuli ilghveodae

Sadilobamde bachanasae

Shvidni tivani gaetibne




Refer to the ''About'' for a detailed explanation of this song.


The Haymaker’s Song


One haymaker called to another

From where Qvari starts

To where Bachna ends

Bachani hayed and hayed

His body was exhausted

Bachani made seven hay stacks

Before supper

Tek'le Badrishvili - Pshauri
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+ Lyrics



Tsam daikhura p’irbade

Mtebma dakhuch’es tvalebi

Aghar shpotoben saplavshi

Gmir toplisperi tvalebi


Kari kvitinebs ghrubeltats

Zari tkves shesazarebi

Guli ver maupkhania

Tsmreli sdis alazniani

Gajavrda tsas emukreba

Ghrma ghele ts’qaro pshiani




A Pshav Song


The sky covered himself in a veil

The mountain closed his eyes

In the graveyard, no longer is there alarm

In the hero's honey-colored eyes

The wind sobs to the clouds

The clouds call out

The heart can endure no more

The Alazani1 sheds a tear

The deep spring from Pshavi

Become angry and threaten the sky



1Alazani is the name of several rivers in eastern Georgia. It is name of the main river that flows through K'akheti.  The rivers that flow through the highland of Tusheti are also referred to by locals as the Alazani.  

Tek'le Badrishvili - Khat'ebze
+ Song Info

Tek'le sings verses she remembers from the writing of Mariam Ts'ik'lauri, about the mountain shrine of Tsikhe-Gora in Pshavi.  It is the clannic sanctuary of the Udzilauri Family, devoted to K'op'ala.1


1K'op'ala refers to a legendary supernatural being worshipped by Khevsurs and Pshavs, who each have a sanctuary in his name (K'arati's Cross in Khevsureti and Tsikhe-Gora in Pshavi). The highlanders especially revered K'op'ala for fighting off evil spirits and helping captive souls find their rightful places in the afterlife. A festival held every July, K'op'aloba involves feasts and a horserace (doghi), complex rituals enacted by the living for the dead relatives of their clan, to ensure the welcoming of deceased souls into their designated positions.

+ Lyrics

There is no English translation available for this song. If you are able to provide one, please include it in an email to aurelia@tsutisopeli.com and we will update the page.



Text: Mariam Ts’ik'lauri


Marjvniv gza midis sauplos

Salotsavebis jeria

Tsikhe-gors galobs burbuli

Quchad usmenen mtania


Visats eg madli ak’lia

Misi tskhovreba madlia

Visats akvs misi qopna k’i

Maradisobis zhamia

Tek'le Badrishvili - Bich'ur Badrishvilis Leksi
+ Song Info

Tek’le sings verses she remembers from the writings of her father, Bich’ur Badrishvili, a mountain priest in Pshavi


These verses are about his sixth child, a long-awaited son born after five daughters.

+ Lyrics

There is no English translation available for this song. If you are able to provide one, please include it in an email to aurelia@tsutisopeli.com and we will udpate the page.


Bich’ur Badrishvilis Leksi

Text: Bich’ur Badrishvili


Genatsvlos tavis mshobeli

Mama it’ire irao

Orniv bak’-parekhs vak’etebt

Moida shabat k’virao


Mena var ormotsdakhutis

Shen k’i ekvsisa arao

Sad rodis ts’amomests’rebi

Dghe ghame imas vgminavo


Me vekhvets’ebi upalsa

Silaghit momtsas binao

Bolos ar itkvas chemzeda

Sadauria vinao

Tek'le Badrishvili - Dzveli Pshauri Dat'ireba
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An old mourning song from Pshavi.

+ Lyrics

There is no English translation available for this song. If you are able to provide one, please include it in an email to aurelia@tsutisopeli.com and we will udpate the page.


Dzveli Pshauri Dat’ireba


Movida mze da movhqev mentsa

Dedao gana dedamtilo

Adgils mikebden shen shvils ara


Me shen shvil upro mamets’ona

Aba sada gqav lamaz shvili

Tskhen unagiri chavabaro

Ghmertma mshvidobas maakhmaros

Tek'le Badrishvili - Nino Tsabaurashvilis Dat'ireba
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A mourning song from Pshavi.

+ Lyrics

Nino Tsabaurashvilis Dat’ireba


Bich’ur k’ldetavs gadavkhede

Shen bak’-parekhs peri akhkhdomiqo

Dzrokhebi mts’velavs k’itkhulobden




Nino Tsaburashvili’s Mourning Song


Bich’ur, I look at the top of the cliffs

Your flock has no color

Your cows are asking for their milker