How ancient jewelry inspired a fountain in Kutaisi, Georgia

We were sweating when we arrived at the enjoyably chaotic bus station in Kutaisi, still dressed in mountain weather-appropriate layers.  There are palm trees in Kutaisi and an almost tropical humidity, which explains the omnipresent  ice cream bars.  This is a city of ice cream bars—multiple coolers of ice cream bars on every block.  We’re not talking artisanal ice cream here either, just regular old grocery store ice cream, and plenty of people munching away on sticks.   Many of these ice cream eaters were wearing white tee shirts with awkward English phrases printed on them, such as “Don’t bother me, I have WiFi” and “My other friend is Mickey”.   (Note to self, never wear clothing that contains a language you can’t read.)

After a brief bus ride from the station (costing 15 cents each) we hopped off in the center of Kutaisi, on the edge of a traffic roundabout.  Before we could sort out the directions to our hostel, we saw it, the Colchis Fountain, glittering away, right in the center of all that traffic.

While planning our trip to Georgia, I would sometimes see a photo of the Colchis fountain in Kutaisi, and my hair would stand up.  “We’re going to see that!” I said to myself, with my usual sense of travel entitlement.  Earlier in our trip we visited the Georgian National Museum in Tbilisi for a bit of background research.  Normally I despise treasuries, which I privately refer to as Shiny Shit for Rich People, but the treasury in the National Museum was more like a fascinating archaeological exhibit.  The superstars of the museum treasury are gold jewelry and other artifacts from ancient Colchis kingdom of Georgia dating mostly 8th – 3rd century BC.  They were found in Vani, a short distance from present date Kutaisi, in Western Georgia.

The Colchis Fountain is smartly designed, with about 30 enlarged copies of Colchis jewelry on blue mosaic pedestals, with, of course, spouting water.

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You can’t tell from this picture, but getting to the fountain involves a death-defying sprint though roundabout traffic.

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The centerpiece of the fountain is focused on a large-scale reproduction of horse earrings we saw in the National Museum.

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The craftsmanship of these earrings, c. 400 bc, is outstanding.

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Proudly standing at the foot of the fountain is this lion, another reproduction from the National Gallery collection.  (We forgot to take a photo in the museum, so the image on the left is from Wikipedia.)  The original gold lion was created around 2500 bc, and is much beloved by the Georgian people).

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It feels like the hairy fellow we met in Ushguli has a few close relative on the fountain too.

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I adore this fountain and commend the city of Kutaisi for investing in culturally relevant, beautifully executed public art.  Any city with this many ice cream bars and the Colchis fountain, is clearly a winner.  I urge you to visit.

 

How we got to Kutaisi: marshrutka ride from Mestia.

Where we slept: Hostel Paradise Road.  Price: €23 for a double.  Recommended: yes.

 

 

 

 

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14 comments

  1. Those earrings! :O Totally worth reproducing in fountain form.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know! My mom is a retired metal smith, so I was thinking of how much she’d enjoy the craftsmanship.

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  2. Fantastic. Isn’t it funny how art that is so old can look so modern.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! The human forms seemed particularly mid 20th century.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That lion IS pretty cool. I would be proud of it too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We noticed the lion is on the logo for the National Bank of Georgia. He’s 4500 year old and handsome as heck.

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  4. That is totally worth a visit, amazing, looking forward to more 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you blosslyn! Georgian people and their art, music and food are certainly quite endearing.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve never seen anything like this fountain. What a
    fabulous civic project. So I wonder if it’s a popular rendezvous place, located as it is in a traffic circle? And do people toss in coins?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t see a lot of people hanging out at the fountain, other than a mother and her toddler. Perhaps the residents are big wusses about traffic like I am, but still, it’s not really a calm place to linger. No coins that I saw. Agreed that this is a fabulous civic project, esp. relating to the rich Georgian history in the area.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. That fountain is F-ing too cool. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yeah, and that Colchis jewelry is really F-ing cool, too. Thanks for reading!

      Like

  7. What a charming fountain ! Yes,the traffic is definitely challenging.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do hope the folks whizzing around the traffic circle take a moment to appreciate the fountain’s charm!

      Like

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