English translation. Source: https://allpoetry.com/Let-the-Banners-Wave-on-High!
Whenever I was in Tbilisi before, I had an urge to push doors open. «There must be magic to discover behind its enchanting doors », my inner nudge was saying. And so it is. .
The magic of stained glass by Italian masters, on doors crafted by Georgian carpenters, framed by unique patterns of metal shaped in laces by Armenian blacksmiths, leading to halls adorned by Renaissance or Moorish style paintings on walls and ceilings … all this beauty as a celebration of our diversity giving birth to something amazing.
There are so many wonderful buildings in Sololaki through which German, Italian, Georgian, Armenian and Russian architects expressed their love for the beauty of this city.
Haratischvili takes the reader through historical events on Georgian soil with the ease of a seasoned local. She introduces us to events as if she was there at that time: “It’s ten thirty on a beautiful sunny morning scented with cardamom, coffee, dust, and cloves, the kind of morning you will only find in Tbilissi.” That was the day Stalin robbed the Tsar’s carriage in plain day in the center of the town.
« The eighth life » could be the story of any family on Georgian soil, who had members living in Russia, as the events of those times joined and separated people of these two countries at most unexpected crossroads. And Haratischvili gives us the story with the intimate knowledge of someone who might have lived more than one life on earth. It is beautiful, touching and utterly brave.
Haratischvili does not take us on a simple straight journey. It is rather a carpet weaving as she adds characters and events to the story. And she does so because « I often used to wonder what would happen if the world’s collective memory had retained different things and lost others. If we had forgotten all the wars and all those countless kings, rulers, leaders, and mercenaries, and the only people to be read about in books were those who had built a house with their own hands, planted a garden, discovered a giraffe, described a cloud, praised the nape of a woman’s neck. I wondered how we know that the people whose names have endured were better, cleverer, or more interesting just because they’ve stood the test of time. What of those who are forgotten? » Yes, what about those?
Anyone wishing to understand more about recent history of Georgia and the reasons behind many of its current institutions should read “The eighth life ». And do that with an open mind, as our guide David said: «Nino was very considerate to the reader in presenting many facts of our recent history. She probably thought that it would be to complicated to grasp for those who have not lived through those times”.
One of the local legends say that the house was built by the oil magnate Kalantarov as a pledge of love to an Opera signer, who agreed to nothing more than a dwelling as splendid as the Opera House in Tbilisi. The young architect Sargsyan seemed to like all things Moorish in architecture and design. The love birds soon moved in and lived there happily until 1921. It then became home to many families placed here by virtue of soviet expropriation. It was slowly losing its magic, until it was refurbished by the Academy of Arts in 2014.
When we got in, Alla Borisovna – one of the house residents – was standing in the inner hall and was immediately attracted by the art book my guide was holding. From a page to another we got into stories around the house, its inhabitants’ habits and the love she and my guide – Elene – shared about Tbilisi’s architecture and the men and women who left us so many architectural jewels to admire today.