Hungarian Cultural Days Dazzle Tbilisi

Earlier this week, Tbiliselebi were afforded a taste of authentic Hungarian folk culture. Indeed, December 4 - 5 saw the Government of Hungary organize the Hungarian Cultural Days in the capital. With this celebration of Georgian-Hungarian cultural ties dedicated to the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two states, locals and foreigners alike were exposed to various elements of Hungarian culture, including gastronomy, history, art, literature, religious traditions, music and dance.

On Monday, people were able to experience a Roman Catholic Mass at the Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral, orchestrated by H.E. Monsignor Giuseppe Pasotto, Bishop of Tbilisi, father Adam Ochal, and H.E. László Kiss-Rigó, Bishop of the Szeged-Csanád diocese, Hungary. Subsequently, at the Zurab Tsereteli Museum of Modern Art, the works of 23 contemporary goldsmiths were displayed at an exhibition titled, “From Silver to Iron,” showcasing Hungarian goldsmithry at the turn of the 20th-21st centuries. Moreover, guests were also afforded a unique history lesson, “Hungary in Georgia”, that offered proof to the theory of Hungarian-Georgian coexistence and relations in the Caucasus dating back to ancient times. To conclude the first day, Szalonna Pál István and his band, with the Saint Ephraim Male Choir, delivered an amazing concert at the Tbilisi State Conservatoire.

The following day, with Maia Tsinadze, wife of the Prime Minister, amongst others in attendance, opened an exhibition of the artworks of Mihály Zichy, the most well-known Hungarian painter and graphic designer in Georgia, who, it should be known, was also a key illustrator of the Georgian classic epic poem, Knight in the Panther’s Skin, at a reception at the Art Palace. Moreover, to much fanfare and enthusiasm from the audience as they flocked en-masse to grab a copy of the Georgian translation, the exhibition included a presentation on Imre Madách’s landmark and internationally acclaimed poem, The Tragedy of Man, with the illustrations done by none other than Mihály Zichy himself. Later in the day, Hungarian writer and historian Péter Pál Kránitz gave a lecture to students of Tbilisi State University about the life and work of Miklós Misztótfalusi Kis (1650-1702), the Hungarian letter cutter, typeface designer, typographer and printer, who was apparently the first print and letter cutter of the Georgian alphabet, thereby helping lay the foundations of book printing in Georgia.

The crown jewel of this mini-cultural festival for this author though, aside from a nostalgia-inducing trip down memory lane to those blissful childhood summers spent at my grandparents’ reunion with Hungarian charcuterie, has to be the penultimate event. Indeed, as the old adage goes, the best was saved for last. For the Hungarian National Dance Ensemble and Orchestra delivered a truly unforgettable and virtuoso performance, titled, “Dazzling the Sun”, which, with the sun long since set, went above and beyond to dazzle the audience.

For those who missed the event, and those who have yet to satiate their appetite for Hungarian produce, if you are looking for more than just the Hungarian bacon available on Carrefour shelves, worry not, for Hungary is this year’s Guest of Honor at the Tbilisi International Film Festival, where audience members will be given the chance to watch the latest greats of Hungarian cinema, including last year’s Oscar-winner “Son of Saul” and this year’s Berlin Film Festival-winner “On Body and Soul”.

Máté Földi

07 December 2017 19:21