WATCH FROM HOME: Table Songs of the Kakheti

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Hugo Zemp, Nona Lomidze
color, 83 min, 2016
in Georgian with English subtitles

Available on DSL and DVD

At the foot of the Caucasus, the Kakheti province of eastern Georgia is famous for its wine and its polyphonic songs. Banquets with their alternation of ritualized toasts and collective singing are considered by Georgians as a major component of national identity. Verbal art and musical art are bound together in a unique way. Table songs of Kakheti have two ornamented solo voices – occasionally one melodic voice – while the choir sings the drone, a sustained tone in the bass.

Thanks to CDs and international tours by folk groups, lovers of Georgian polyphony from abroad appreciate this specific repertoire. However, this film reveals the performance of these songs in the traditional context of banquets (supra), under the presidencies of toastmasters (tamada). Georgian banquets conventionally are the prerogative of men. Mastersinger Andro Simashvili, known as Andro Papa, leads his friends at a classical men’s banquet.

On the other hand, renowned female singer Leila Legashvili is the toastmaster at a women’s banquet, where Andro Simashvili is an honored guest. Long songs and elaborate toasts are shown in their integrality, revealing important insights into Georgian cultural values.

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