Coats of arms of the Royal House of Georgia
Georgia and its Royal House are (considered to be) the keepers of one of the most important holy relics – the Lord’s Tunic. It is said that after the crucifixion the tunic of Christ was brought to Georgia and buried in a place, upon which the Georgian Kings built the cathedral of Svetitskhoveli, and burial place of Georgian monarchs of the Bagrationi dynasty who are guardians of this shrine.
As a result, the heraldic achievements (coat of arms, or just arms) of the royal line of the Kings of Georgia depict in addition to the symbols of the Saint King David the Psalmist, as the ancestor of the Bagrations, but also a charge of the sacred relic of the Tunic of Jesus Christ.
These symbols were emphasized within Georgian Royal heraldic achievements as well as their flags and seals. Its use is an indication of a true and worthy claim to the throne of the Kingdom of Georgia through descent from the direct line of kings of this dynasty.
The Sling and Harp of King David, were also of great importance as they specified the divine origin and right of the Bagration dynasty to the crown and throne of Georgia. This is expressed by the inscription around the shield which is taken from Psalm 132:
“The Lord swore an oath to David, a sure oath he will not revoke: “One of your own descendants I will place on your throne” (Psalm 132 : 11).
Further, the arms also bear an inscription from the gospel:
“the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom” (John. 19, 23).
The Royal arms also display other royal regalia, such as the scepter, orb, sword and scales.
The most ancient depiction of the Georgian Royal arms is that of the arms of King of Kakheti Levan I (1518-1574), which is depicted on the tombstone of his wife, Queen Tinatin in the monastery founded in Akhali Shuamta (New Shuamta) which she personally commissioned the construction of, and dates from 1591. In the center of this ancient, square-shaped coat of arms, is depicted the Tunic of the Lord with surrounded by the inscription of Psalm 132:11
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The coat of arms of the King of Kakheti Levan I (1518-1574)
In depicting the Holy Tunic on their coats of arms, the Kings of Kakheti emphasized their privileged right of possession and guardianship of the sacred relic, and thereby to the royal tomb in Svetitskhoveli. This claim was fair because had the united Georgian Kingdom not divided into separate parts, the descendants of this genealogically senior branch of Kakhetian Bagrations would have continued to reign on the throne of a united Georgia as the direct descendants of the last King of a united Georgia, King Giorgi VIII
Therefore, despite the throne of the direct descendants of Georgi VIII being in the city of Gremi (in Kakheti), and not Tbilisi as the capital of the unified Georgia, the Kings of Kakheti Levan, by depicting the symbol of the sacred relic of the Tunic of Christ, proclaimed the superiority of their Royal house, over those of the other two recently emerged “royal” houses.
At the beginning of the 18th century, King of Kartli Kaikhosro (1709-1711), created a new achievement of arms based on those of the Kakhetian Kings but with a small difference. An inscription from the gospel now appeared around the image of the Tunic:
“the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom” (John. 19, 23).
The coat of arms of the King of Kartli Kaikhosro I (1709-1711)
The next King of Kartli Vakhtang VI (1716-1724) remade the square arms of King Kaikhosro into a circle, but the original blazon remained unchanged.
The coat of arms of the King of Kartli Vakhtang VI (1716-1724)
During the reign of the King of the united Kartli-Kakheti kingdom Erekle II, the royal arms took on the function of a symbol of state. Along with the political strengthening of the united Kartli-Kakheti kingdom, Erekle II began to regulate heraldry in general, which include both state and regional as well as personal heraldry. King Erekle II improved his achievement of arms according to the European style, introducing a shield in the French style, divided into five fields. Depicted in the central field is the Tunic of the Lord. Angels supporting the crown also appeared.
Inscriptions, used in previous achievements now disappeared as an unacceptable form for heraldry in the European style. It is during the reign of Erekle II, that heraldic achievements were “improved”, now adorned with mantles. Examples can be seen on state seals of that time.
The coat of arms of King Erekle II (1744-1798) (1)
On one large state seal of King Erekle II, which was made by emulating those used at that time in European countries, the arms of the King were surrounded by the arms of all the territories and administrative entities that were vassal states and over which King Erekle claimed sovereignty. The full titles conferred to the King are given in the ratified text of the Treaty of Georgievsk of 1783, which says: “… we, Erekle II, King of Kartli and King of Kakheti, Crown Prince of Samtskhe-Saatabago, Prince of Kazakhi, Prince of Borchaly, Prince of Shamshadilo, Prince of Kaki, Prince of Shaki and Prince of Shirvan, ruler and lord of Ganja and Yerevan.”
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The coat of arms of King Erekle II (1744-1798) (2)
The last King of “Georgia and other lands” Giorgi XII, did not follow the innovative way of his predecessor King Erekle but returned to the traditional style of the Royal arms used by the Kings Levan I, Kaikhosro and Vakhtang VI.
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The coat of arms of King Giorgi XII (1798-1800)
Another interesting example is the arms of the ruler of Georgia, Crown Prince David (son of King Giorgi XII) (1800-1801), which stylistically differs from that of his father’s state arms and has a purely European style similar to the arms of his grandfather, King Erekle II.
The description of the arms of Crown Prince David is as follows:
“The German shield is divided into six parts. In its first azure part is depicted the golden lyre of the biblical king David. In the second silver part is the golden Tunic of Christ, around which there is a Latin inscription. In its third gules part are depicted the golden orb and the sling of the biblical King David. In its fourth part gules part there is crossed golden scepter and sword with handles upward. In the fifth silver part the golden St. George the Victorious on a horse defeating a dragon. In the sixth azure part are the golden scales reflecting justice of the biblical king Solomon. Above the shield there is a golden Georgian royal crown, supported by two silver angels blowing gold trumpets. Under the shield is the motto in Latin. Shield holders are two golden lions. The coat of arms is decorated with a scarlet, lined with an ermine mantle with gold tassels and the same fringe and topped with a golden royal crown”.
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The coat of arms of the ruler of the kingdom, Crown Prince David (XII) (1800-1801) (1)
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Another coat of arms of the ruler of the kingdom, Crown Prince David (XII) (1800-1801) (2)
Also surviving to the present day are the arms of other sons of King Giorgi XII, Batonishvili Bagrat and Batonishvili Teimuraz, which repeat the heraldic symbols of the Royal House of Georgia.
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The coat of arms of Batonishvili Bagrat, son of King Giorgi XII (1775-1840) (Seal)
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The coat of arms of Batonishvili Teimuraz, son of King Giorgi XII (1782-1846)
A very interesting example of the use of heraldry by the daughters of the Kings Erekle II and Giorgi XII can be seen in the cathedral of Svetitskhoveli. On the gravestones of Batonishvili Ketevan and Batonishvili Tekle (daughters of King Erekle), are engraved the European style coat of arms of the Royal family of Georgia. Also, the arms of Batonishvili Sophia, daughter of King Giorgi XII, is preserved on a gravestone in the church of Ertatsminda.
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The coat of arms of Batonishvili Ketevan, daughter of King Erekle II (1764-1840)
The coat of arms of Batonishvili Tekla, daughter of King Erekle II (1776-1846)
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The coat of arms of Batonishvili Sophia, daughter of King Giorgi XII (1770-1840)
After the annexation of the Georgian kingdom in 1801 and the exile of the members of the royal family into Russia, the image of the Tunic of the Lord continued to be used on the arms of the members of the former royal house of Georgia.
On January 22, 1885, the Russian Empire officially recognized the arms of the Most Serene Princes of Bagrationi-Gruzinski, the descendants of King Erekle II. It was included in the Volume XIV of the “The general herbarium of noble families of the All-Russian empire” under entry No.2.
The description of the arms is as follows:
“Four-part shield with a small shield in the middle. In the first gules part is a silver tunic. In the second azure part there is a golden harp, in the third azure part there is a silver sling with the same belts and a golden stone. In the fourth gules part is a golden Orb under crossed silver sword with golden hilt and a golden scepter. In a small gold shield at the middle is depicted the holy Great Martyr and Victorious George with azure armory and a gold cross on his chest, sitting on a scarlet horse covered with scarlet and gold fringe and striking with a scarlet spear a green dragon with black wings and scarlet eyes and tongue. Above the main shield is the princely crown, supported by two soaring angels with gold hilted silver swords. Shield supporters: two golden lions with scarlet eyes and tongues. The coat of arms is decorated with a scarlet, lined with an ermine mantle with gold tassels and the same fringe and topped with the crown of the Most Serene Princes”.
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Approved Coat of Arms of the Serene Highness Princes of Bagrationi-Gruzinski, descendants of King Erekle II (1885)
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Coat of arms of the Head of the Royal House of Georgia, Batonishvili and His Serene Highness
Prince Peter Bagrationi-Gruzinsky (patronymic Alexander) and his brothers – Batonishvili and Their Serene Highness Princes Giorgi and Mikhail Bagrationi-Gruzinski
(the coat of arms embroidered on hankie)
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The сoat of arms of the Most Serene Princes of Bagrationi-Gruzinski
(coat of arms from the collection of Götling)
Therefore, The new achievement of arms of the Head of the Royal House of Georgia, Batonishvili Nugzar Bagrationi-Gruzinski, is stylistically a display of the historical development of the arms belonging to his royal ancestors, although it should also be emphasized that in this new coat of arms, in addition to the Tunic of the Lord was added the image of the Tunic of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, which is stored in a shrine in one of the monasteries of western Georgia. This symbolizes the unity of western and eastern Georgia – Iveria.
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The coat of arms of the Head of the Royal House of Georgia,
Batonishvili Nugzar Bagrationi-Gruzinski
The description of the coat of arms of the Head of the Royal House of Georgia, Batonishvili Nugzar Bagrationi-Gruzinsky, is as follows:
On a fillet cross Or, 38 triangles reversed Argent (representing the ancient Georgian alphabet, named Asomtavruli), in Escutcheon Saint George with a nimbus Or, dressed in a tunic Gules, mounted on a horse salient sable, armed with a lance with a cross Or, slaying a dragon Vert.
Quarterly: First, Gules on a tile Argent the Tunic of Christ Or.
Second, Azure in the Dexter a Lyre (of the Biblical King David) Or stringed Argent and a sling shot Or and Argent with a stone Gules.
Third, Azure an orb Gules Trimmed Or above a scepter Or and a sword Argent in saltire, above a scale Argent with bowls Or. In the Dexter chief the Georgian symbol of the period of Queen Tamar.
Fourth, Gules, on a cross Bottony Argent the Tunic of Saint Mary Or.
Supporters; On a compartment Or, two Griffins (Paskunjis) segreant Or. Under the compartment lies the mythological Golden Fleece proper.
For a crest the royal crown of Georgia proper supported by angels proper Volant each brandishing an Argent sword.
The armorial achievement is decorated with a circle belt interwoven with a star of eight points with celestial stars on each of the seven highest points; this is symbolic of the heavenly paradise of Georgia. The motto integrated into the octagon is in Asomtavruli and says the biblical scripture from Psalms: “The Lord swore an oath to David, a sure oath he will not revoke: “One of your own descendants I will place on your throne” (Psalm 132 : 11)
Underneath the above is a motto written in Mkhedruli, the modern Georgian alphabet, which reads: “May All of Georgia Be Blessed”.