World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

The Knight in the Panther's Skin

Article Id: WHEBN0000395822
Reproduction Date:

Title: The Knight in the Panther's Skin  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: National epic, Lelo burti, Tariel, Stalin's poetry, Grigol Orbeliani
Collection: 12Th-Century Poems, Epic Poems, Georgian Poems, Medieval Poetry, Middle Georgian Literature
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

The Knight in the Panther's Skin

The Knight in the Panther's Skin
17th-century manuscript of Vepkhistqaosani
Author(s) Shota Rustaveli
Dedicated to Queen Tamar of Georgia
Language Georgian
Date c. 1180–1205/07
First printed edition by King Vakhtang VI in 1712
Genre epic poetry, national epic
Length 6,500 lines
Subject love, friendship, heroism, loyalty
Period covered Reign of Queen Tamar of Georgia
Georgian Golden Age

The Knight in the Panther's Skin (

  • Marjory Scott Wardrop, The Man in the Panther's Skin: A Romantic Epic by Shota Rustaveli, Royal Asiatic Society, 1912
  • Donald Rayfield, The Literature of Georgia, Richmond, Curzon Press, 2000 (1st ed. 1994)
  • A. G. Baramidze & D. M. Gamezardashvili, Georgian Literature, Honolulu, University Press of the Pacific, 2001 (1st ed. 1968)
  • Kakha Shengelia, History of Georgia, Tbilisi, Caucasus University Publishing House, 2001
  • Jean-Claude Polet, Patrimoine littéraire européen, vol. 4a, Le Moyen Âge, de l'Oural à l'Atlantique. Littératures d'Europe orientale, De Boeck, 1993
  • Gijs Koolemans Beynen, "Adultery and Death in Shota Rustaveli's The Man in the Panther Skin", Courtly Arts and the Arts of Courtliness, 2004
  • M. Kveselava, Anthology of Georgian Poetry, Honolulu, University Press of the Pacific, 2001 (1st ed. 1948)
  • Nodar Asatiani & Alexandre Bendianashvili, Histoire de la Géorgie, Paris, l'Harmattan, 1997
  • A. Khakhanoff, «Abrégé de l'histoire et de la littérature géorgienne», dans Raphaël Isarloff, Histoire de Géorgie, Paris - Tbilissi, Charles Noblet - Librairie de la société géorgienne de lettres, 1900


  1. ^ Baramidze & Gamezardashvili, p. 17
  2. ^ Shengelia, p. 106
  3. ^ Shengelia, p. 105
  4. ^ Delshad, p. 18
  5. ^ Baramidze & Gamezardashvili, p. 26
  6. ^ Baramidze & Gamezardashvili, p. 19
  7. ^ Asatiani & Bendianashvili, p. 151
  8. ^ Malinka Velinova, "Interférence des genres dans les emplois du monologue médiéval", Institut Roustavéli, p. 160
  9. ^ Polet, p. 529
  10. ^ Polet, p. 500
  11. ^ Polet, p. 525
  12. ^ Kveselava, p. 13
  13. ^ The Knight in the Panther's Skin, st. 4
  14. ^ The Knight in the Panther's Skin, st. 1666
  15. ^ Orbeliani & Iordanishvili, 1949
  16. ^ Rustaveli, SUNY Press, 1977
  17. ^ Rustaveli, Netlancers Inc, 2014
  18. ^ The Knight in the Panther's Skin, III-XXX
  19. ^ The Knight in the Panther's Skin, XXX-XLV
  20. ^ Beynen, p. 221
  21. ^ Beynen, p. 219
  22. ^ Beynen, p. 222
  23. ^ Beynen, p. 228
  24. ^ Delshad, p. 50
  25. ^ Polet, p. 548
  26. ^ Mirianaschwili, Müller & Müller, «Schota Rustaveli, "Der Ritter im Tigerfell", 1999
  27. ^ Wardrop, p. 6
  28. ^ Beynen, p. 220
  29. ^ Wardrop, p. 7
  30. ^ Baramidze & Gamezardashvili, p. 25
  31. ^ Baramidze & Gamezardashvili, pp. 25-26
  32. ^ Baramidze & Gamezardashvili, p. 21
  33. ^ Wardrop, p. 4
  34. ^ Baramidze & Gamezardashvili, pp. 21-22
  35. ^ Beynen, p. 232
  36. ^ Wardrop, p. 7
  37. ^ Baramidze & Gamezardashvili, p. 23
  38. ^ Polet, p. 527
  39. ^ Shengelia, p. 107
  40. ^ Baramidze & Gamezardashvili, p. 22
  41. ^ Khakhanoff, p. 95
  42. ^ Baramidze & Gamezardashvili, p. 24
  43. ^ Baramidze & Gamezardashvili, p. 20
  44. ^ Rayfield, p. 77
  45. ^ Wardrop, p. 270
  46. ^ Rayfield, p. 76
  47. ^ Wardrop, p. 4-5
  48. ^ Rayfield, pp. 77-78
  49. ^ Bolkhovitinov, Историческое изображение Грузии в политическом, церковном и учебном ее состаянии, St. Petersburg, 1802
  50. ^ Brosset, pp. 277-294
  51. ^ Lapchinski & Eristavi, 1840
  52. ^ Der Mann in Tigerfelle, von Schota Rustaveli, Arthur Leist, 1889
  53. ^ Taktakishvili & Urushadze, pp. 142-148
  54. ^ Tsereteli, pp. 661-664
  55. ^ Mikola Bajan, Kiev, 1937
  56. ^ Asatur, Yerevan, 1937
  57. ^ Vurghun, Rahim & Rustam, Baku, 1937
  58. ^ Shahzoda 1938 & Mirtemir 1959
  59. ^ Almaty, 1938
  60. ^ Gulia, Sokhumi, 1941
  61. ^ Li-tsi-e, Shanghai, 1943
  62. ^ Shavlokhovisa, Tskhinvali, 1943
  63. ^ La pelle di Leopardo di Schotha Rusthaveli, Milan, 1945
  64. ^ Vera Roman, Bucarest, 1947
  65. ^ Frunse, 1956
  66. ^ Ashgabat, 1957
  67. ^ Kotchlashvili & Fukuro, 1962
  68. ^ Gustavo de la Tore Botaro, Santiago, 1964
  69. ^ Gombojav, Ulan-Bator, 1965
  70. ^ Zvonak & Khvedarovitch, Minsk, 1966
  71. ^ Krecu, Chișinău, 1966
  72. ^ Agiashvili, 1967
  73. ^ Mouzaev, Grozny, 1969
  74. ^ Asad & Ankus, 2007
  75. ^ Baramidze, p. 344


Today, unabridged editions are available in many languages: Hungarian,[54] Ukrainian,[55] Armenian,[56] Azeri,[57] Uzbek,[58] Kazakh,[59] Abkhaz,[60] Chinese,[61] Ossetian,[62] Italian,[63] Romanian,[64] Kyrgyz,[65] Turkmen,[66] Japanese,[67] Spanish,[68] Mongolian,[69] Belarusian,[70] Moldovan,[71] Hebrew,[72] Chechen,[73] Kurdish,[74] Bashkir, Chuvash, Tatar, Esperanto,[75] Serbian, and also in Persian.

Outside of Georgia, first interest in the poem appeared in 1802, when Eugene Bolkhovitinov published a verbatim translation of the first stanza of the poem into Russian.[49] In France in 1828, Marie-Félicité Brosset made his first partial French translation.[50] In the 19th century the poem saw full translations into Polish,[51] German[52] and Russian. In 1845, extracts were published in Russian, French and Armenian. In 1912, Marjory Wardrop published one of the best English translations available, given the proximity to the original.[53]


Philosophical references of the poem is the Pseudo-Dionysius (st. 1478) which could be identified with the Georgian monk Peter the Iberian, an idealist, who believes in the oneness of God but sees the impossibility of knowing God's real existence.[48]

However, the moral framework of the work is Christian, with a clear dichotomy between a good god and a hard and disappointing world. This Christianity yet has no fanaticism, even though its references to Islam, its prophet Muhammad (st. 1019), to Mecca (st. 1154) and the Quran (st. 344, 523 and 1154) are not particularly benevolent, and it is sometimes mocking,[46] they nevertheless clearly show some knowledge of this religion.[47]

The poem sometimes gives the impression of being a pagan work.[44] In fact, no prayer is inserted into the poem, and never appear references to Christ or the Virgin Mary, or the Trinity but only to Paul the Apostle. Paul is mentioned, although references to the Gospels and the Old Testament are many (ten occurrences of Garden of Eden, including references to the Euphrates, Gibeon and Levi).[45]

Religious and philosophical views

In general, the poem is a "manifest of living with joy". The success of the three heroes in the liberation of Nestan shows that justice can exist on earth, as with enough courage and perseverance, one can find the happiness here.[43]

Politically, the poem does not lack and is not without patriotism. The state must be led by a strong and autocratic central government, however, sovereigns must rule with justice and prudence.[42]

With the glorification of courtly love, Rustaveli leads to strongly condemn forced marriages. Poem also shows an admiration for the woman and demands for Saint Nino in the 4th century.[39] This "cult of woman"[40] celebrates her honor and freedom to choose her own husband and Nestan is the model of a noble woman who puts reason above passion. In equal rights, women can develop a sincere friendship with the opposite sex without love and desire and Asmat is dedicated to Tariel. Slavery is also condemned in the poem.[41]


Morals, religion and philosophy

The friendship between the three heroes sworn, Avtandil, Tariel and Pridon, a clear narrative of the entire epic, binds them together and at the same time it binds their peoples. These three men belong to different nations, they find themselves with the same aspirations and the same goal and that is their union of forces that can and will destroy a tyranny and evil what is represented by the Kajs.[37] This friendship, full of honesty and courage, free of cowardice and sycophancy, must go to the death if necessary. Such friendship is also possible between persons of different sexes in this case of Tariel and Asmat who share the same cave in brotherhood. However, love and friendship are intertwined as love of a knight with his heroism is fully realized with the help of a disinterested friendship and absolute loyalty. Both feelings are also expressed in the terms when Avtandil even against the will and order of his king departs to help his friend in need. Moreover, the happiness of each is conditioned by the happiness of others. Tinatin allows Avtandil to leave for Tariel, because it is the duty of her suitor to rescue his friend to whom he has promised to help.[38]


Loyalty of Nestan that fills the work and supports the dramatic tension well before the appearance of the character, is a model of righteousness. When it was announced that she would be married against her own will, she protests with force and supports its consequences with her heroic courage and stoicism. For three heroes who go to her aid, fearless and selfless, the fight is intended as a quest for justice. Amorous conquest is also noticeably absent from the poem. Both romantic relationships are paralleled and never mixed as the true brotherhood between the two heroes prevent such incidents.[35] Love, like friendship, often gives rise to hyperbolic descriptions in the poem.[36]

In the prologue, Rustaveli describes three types of love: an inaccessible due to the divine, heavenly love; physical love; and finally, a higher earthly love or passionate love.[32] Rustaveli thinks that pure and constant love does not expect love in return.[33] Such kind of love can not be felt without a strong spirit and the only possibility of experiencing love of this order is determined by the natural qualities that should have a real human being. Therefore, the valiant must have its beautiful with impeccable behavior including a constant devotion, the rejection of social duties and selfless loyalty. And as the author puts it "love is a severe trial for man as for woman".[34]


Rustaveli is a great humanist. The poet focuses his attention on a man as a complex of sincere feelings, emotions, passions and aspirations. To counterbalance the mentality of the Middle Ages and the ecclesiastic morality of asceticism Rustaveli's poem proclaims the freedom of man as a personality, freedom of thought and feeling.[31]

Human relationships

[30] Patman takes little account of family honor as she humiliates her husband on account of his bodily defects. Patman's character is true to life from the artistic point of view. Despite everything, she is capable of displaying both affection and sincere warmth peculiar to a woman. She spares no effort to save Nestan. It is very characteristic that when Patman learns of the purpose of Avtandil's journey, she makes no attempt to keep the man she loves at her side even for a short time.[29] Tinatin is a static character who leaves no time to the court of his father in Arabia. Nestan being a prisoner in the distant regions, is also passive. But their confidence, righteousness, shows these two women being faithful and respective lovers. As for Patman, she is an altered representation of their type but an infidel during the absence of her husband.[28] Although they take little action, these female characters, Tinatin and Nestan-Darejan are constantly present in thoughts of the knights and in the narrative tension as a whole. Princesses, a higher rank than their servant knights, they are inspired by the Queen

The faithful and patient lover: Tinatin and Nestan-Darejan

These two characters represent the most devouted and friend lover characters, both heroes capable of cult was particularly strong in the 12th century especially in the episode where Tariel kills a lion and a panther.[26]

The brave and loyal knights: Avtandil and Tariel


The poem is placed far away from Georgia in countries that the poet has certainly never visited: Arabs are portrayed as more rational, as the king Rostevan and his knight Avtandil with their communication skills and action help to break deadlocks. Conversely, the Indians appear to be more emotional and impulsive and cause unintended disasters, as of the image of Tariel and Nestan.[21] Other locations mentioned as the Kajeti or country of Kaj demons are imaginary. As for Gulansharo, capital of the "Kingdom of the Seas", has been compared to Venice.[22]


Tariel, Avtandil and Pridon looking at the Kajeti fortress.

Places and characters

Avtandil then leaves Tariel to get into the kingdom of Pridon, where he did not hear anything about new on Nestan. Continuing his quest, he arrives at city of Gulansharo. He met Patman, wife of the chief Usen, who falls in love with him. Avtandil, sensing she knows the fate of Nestan, gives himself right to be seduced by her. She tells him she has hosted Nestan and, as she was promised to the son of the king, she helped her escape, but in her flight she was abducted by the Kaji, a demon king. Avtandil then returns home to Pridon and then in the cave of Tariel and later all three friends decide to go to the country of Kaji with an army of three hundred men to find and deliver Nestan. When she's released, all return to Arabia, where King Rostevan, having forgiven Avtandil his flight and breaking the king's order they all celebrate the marriage of the latter with his only daughter, Tinatin. They then leave for India where Tariel marries his love Nestan. Pridon also returns to his homeland and the three friends reign happily with prosperity and generosity in their own respective realms.[19]

Search for Nestan-Darejan

The King of Arabia Rostevan having no son to succeed him, confers the kingship on his only daughter, the beautiful and wise, Tinatin, who has a tender affection for Avtandil, the knight and the commander-in-chief. One day, when King Rostevan and Avtandil are hunting they encounter a mysterious grief-stricken knight dressed in the panther's skin who kills several members of the royal guard sent by the king and disappears. Tinatin then asks Avtandil to find this strange knight promising him in return her faithful love. After three years of searching, he finally finds the knight in the panther's skin. His name would be Tariel and he will then tell Avtandil his story. Tariel served to the king of the seven kingdoms of India, King Parsadan. The king had a daughter, Nestan-Darejan, who had been brought away from the court. When Tariel saw her for the first time, he fell in love immediately but she was promised to the Khwarezmian prince. Tariel could not bear the idea of marriage, and at the request of Nestan he killed the suitor. The princess was then placed on a boat and adrift on the seas. Despite Tariel's lengthy search for his love he could not find her. Later he met Nuradin-Pridon, ruler of Mulgazanzar, who told him that Nestan was alive but trapped on a distant boat. Tariel retired to a cave to live a wild life with Asmat, the former servant and messenger of Nestan. Moved by this story, Avtandil promises his friendship and brotherhood to Tariel and agrees to help him find his love, Nestan-Darejan. Avtandil returned home to Arabia, he tells Tinatin the story of Tariel and returns to his new friend, going against the king Rostevan's will.[18]

Tariel, the knight in the panther's skin.

Search for Tariel

The story can be divided into two parts: the first part shows Avtandil looking for Tariel, the knight in the panther's skin and the second his quest for Nestan-Darejan.


Georgian title ვეფხისტყაოსანი (vepkhistqaosani) literally means "one with a skin of vepkhi". The identity of the animal that it refers to is not certain and it can be a [15] The alternative English titles of the poem also are "Lord of the Panther Skin"[16] and "The Man in the Panther's Skin".[17]


Content and form

ქართველთა ღმრთისა დავითის, ვის მზე მსახურებს სარებლად,
ესე ამბავი გავლექსე მე მათად მოსახმარებლად,
ვინ არის აღმოსავლეთით დასავლეთს ზართა მარებლად,
და ორგულთა მათთა დამწველად, ერთგულთა გამახარებლად.
God of the Georgians, David, who the sun is his servant,
And here I wrote this poetry for their use,
The one who rules on the east and west,
To burn the infidels, and please the devoted.

And in the epilogue he praises the queen's king consort David Soslan.[14]

თამარს ვაქებდეთ მეფესა სისხლისა ცრემლ-დათხეული,
ვთქვენი ქებანი ვისნი მე არ-ავად გამორჩეული.
მელნად ვიხმარე გიშრის ტბა და კალმად მე ნა რხეული,
ვინცა ისმინოს, დაესვას ლახვარი გულსა ხეული.
By shedding tears of blood we praise King Tamar,
whose praises I, not ill-chosen, have told forth.
For ink I have used a lake of jet, and for pen a pliant crystal.
Whoever hears, a jagged spear will pierce his heart.

In the very prologue, Rustaveli mentions that he wrote this poem for praising the "King" Tamar.[13]

The creation of the poem corresponds to the golden age of the wine culture or a woman being the king who became an heir of her father.[12]

Context and time

Tamar the poem, by Mihály Zichy.

History of the work


  • History of the work 1
    • Context and time 1.1
  • Content and form 2
    • Title 2.1
    • Story 2.2
      • Search for Tariel 2.2.1
      • Search for Nestan-Darejan 2.2.2
  • Places and characters 3
    • Places 3.1
    • Characters 3.2
      • The brave and loyal knights: Avtandil and Tariel 3.2.1
      • The faithful and patient lover: Tinatin and Nestan-Darejan 3.2.2
  • Human relationships 4
    • Love 4.1
    • Friendship 4.2
  • Morals, religion and philosophy 5
    • Values 5.1
    • Religious and philosophical views 5.2
  • Translations 6
  • References 7
  • Sources 8

The story takes place in [9]

[5] Rustaveli drew upon the entire wealth of the old Georgian written culture and, by following the best traditions of the Georgian folklore, developed and raised Georgian poetry to unprecedented heights, poetry which would describe the highest ideals and aspirations of the

[4][3] Until the early 20th century, a copy of this poem was part of the dowry of any bride.[2]

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.