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Wednesday, I was invited to accompany our 7th grade class and Zina, one of our Russian teachers, to the museum of Mukhran Machavariani.
Zina is one of our most active teachers. She also helps at the Akaki Tseretli museum and has organized school presentations on Akaki Tserteli and Palestine. So no one should be surprised that she organized this trip.
Mukhran Machavariani was a Georgian poet from Argveti, a village in the Sachkhere region and just a short drive from where I’m at. He was also one of the strongest voices for Georgian independence and became a member of its first parliament as Georgia left the Soviet Union.
Where I was unable to understand everything that was said, Nino, one of my English teaching counterparts, helped translate. With her aid, I was able to ask some questions. It turns out that, yes, the USSR did take exception to his outspoken ways. In fact, they riddled his home in Tbilisi with bullets.
It can be said that Mukhran died as he lived. He was giving a poetry reading at the Rustaveli Theater in Tbilisi when he suddenly collapsed. The last word he said was საქართველო: Georgia.
The museum just opened less than a year ago and is rather small at this time. Its actually his house, with Mukhran's possessions carefully preserved and tastefully displayed. It is privately owned and maintained by Mukhran’s relations. They have plans to expand it. Its curator, Giorgi Iashvili is pouring all his money into it. We were fortunate that he left a supra (at which he was the თამადა / toastmaster) to give us our tour. As was a wonderful host and offered a free book to the student that could answer his questions about Mukhran.
Giorgi couldn’t entirely leave his toastmaster duties behind. At the end of the tour he offered the adults (especially me, as the only male) wine from Mukhran’s vineyard. I have to admit that it was pretty good ; though, I was a little annoyed that it also got sprayed over me as a result of excessive pressure in cask. The kids at least had fun at my expense, and then sang and played the panduri. This excursion as most do here: a picnic.
The museum also serves as a reminder of the wealth of literary figures from Sachkhere. I know of three museums, each to a different writer from here. It’s a source of pride for many locals, and they are all worth visiting if you have an interest in history and/or Georgian literature.