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Shota Rustaveli

Portrait by Professor Sergo Kobuladze (1937)
Shota Rustaveli was a Georgian poet in the 12th century, one of greatest representatives of the literature of the medieval world. His best-known work is The Knight in the Panther Skin ("Vepkhistkaosani" in Georgian), the Georgian national epic poem.

It is assumed that Rustaveli was a Georgian Prince, the treasurer ("Mechurchletukhutsesi") of Queen Tamar and also painted frescoes in the Georgian monastery of the St. Cross in Jerusalem. One of the pillars of this monastery bears a portrait which is believed to be the portrait of the poet. Little facts are known about Rustaveli's life, in particular dates of his birth and death are unknown.

The meaning of surname Rustaveli (or Rustveli) is landlord of Rustavi or a man from Rustavi (Rustavi was old city in Meskheti, South Georgia).

"The Knight in the Panther's Skin" has been translated into many languages. It has been first printed in 1712, in Tbilisi (capital of Georgia).

Among the illustrated secular works produced in Georgia, the manuscripts of "The Knight in the Panther's Skin" occupy an important place.

In the Institute of Manuscripts of the Georgian Academy of Sciences (Tbilisi) are two leaves of the text of the XVI century, and some lines of the poem belong to the XIV century. All other lists of the poem belong to the XVII century (manuscript of 1653, H-54 of the Institute of Manuscripts).

The highest Prize of the Republic of Georgia in the fields of Art and Literature is the Shota Rustaveli State Prize. The main road in Tbilisi is the Rustaveli Road. In Tbilisi exists also Shota Rustaveli State Academic Theatre, Shota Rustaveli Institute of Georgian Literature of the Georgian Academy of Sciences, Shota Rustaveli Underground Station, etc.

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