Accepted Paper:

Soviet footprint: the issue of "traditional" in Georgian Crafts  
Ana Shanshiashvili (Georgian Heritage Crafts Association)

Paper short abstract:

The paper will discuss Soviet footprint on Georgian Craft production by analyzing the ways in which certain modes of craft design were used for ideological reasons in Soviet times and its legacy we encounter today, ranging from mental issues to the question of aesthetics and marketability.

Paper long abstract:

Located in Caucasus, at the geographic meeting point between Europe and Asia, Georgia has maintained brilliant crafts traditions throughout centuries. Every single province had its own traditions, designs and patterns, which ensured the ethnographic mosaic of the country and its special attractiveness. And yet, despite these rich cultural assets, demonstrated through the ancient craft items on museum displays, the majority of crafts produced in today's Georgia have something in common and that's not the traditional design, but the aesthetics, which in turn, goes back to the Soviet times.

Being the post-Soviet republic, Georgia has experienced political and socio-economic changes in the recent past. During Soviet times crafts sector, was an advanced industry in the country. It was by then, when "national identity" became the matter for censorship, and the traditional designs were turned into stylized, "pseudo-national" forms, while craft objects became just "souvenirs", instead of being the items for everyday use. Subsidized by centralized government, craft sector was one of the hardest hit sectors when the old system collapsed, giving way to the series of problems we come across in today's Georgia.

The paper will be based on the results of the comprehensive countrywide study conducted in 2012 in the framework of the project funded by the European Union Eastern Partnership Culture programme and will analyze the ways in which certain modes of craft design were used for ideological reasons in Soviet Georgia and its legacy we encounter today, ranging from mental issues to the question of aesthetics and marketability.

Panel P131
Which craft? Politics and aesthetics of handicraft in post-industrial contexts