Smithsonian

National Parliamentary Library of Georgia

 
Dadiani Crest language image Georgian Version English Version

Introduction

 

The western Georgian province of Samegrelo[1] has played a central role in the history of Georgia. Since the late middle ages, it has often been at the center of Georgia’s political intrigues, military struggles, and cultural development.

Ekaterine Dadiani's Palace

For centuries, Samegrelo was ruled by the powerful Dadiani family. Over the centuries, the House of Dadiani has produced noted writers, historians, military leaders, statesmen, clergy, athletes, and other illustrious personalities, in addition to the ruling eristavis (Dukes) and mtavaris (Principals) of the province .

This website introduces readers to the Dadiani family and to Samegrelo, from ancient times to the present. Like its companion site on the Chavchavadze family of eastern Georgia, this site contains texts, photographs, and maps that strive to capture the spirit of an extraordinary family and its times. It is aimed at scholars, students, and members of the general public who want to learn about Samegrelo’s historical journey. In providing an overview of the province’s history and roots, this site also seeks to lay a foundation for additional research into areas of history that remain shrouded in uncertainty. It is divided into three main sections:

  • The first section is an introduction to Samegrelo, including information on the province’s geography, ethnography, and history, plus an overview of the House of Dadiani.
  • The second section looks at places (palaces, churches, residences, and so on) associated with the Dadiani family, including a discussion of the transformation of one of these into a museum that preserves memories of the Dadiani family, the province of Samegrelo, and the region more generally. This section also contains some brief sketches of the lifestyles of the Dadianis in the mid-to-late 19th century.
  • The third section presents colorful biographical sketches of some prominent members of the Dadiani family, starting with the feudal lord Levan I in the 16th century and ending with David (Dudu) Dadiani, a professional basketball player and ambassador of Georgian sport whose life ended tragically just as the 21st century was beginning. These remarkable stories are at the core of the site. Through them, the struggles and triumphs of Samegrelo and Georgia in the past several centuries take on a human aspect.

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    Gathering information for this site was not easy. Primary sources are limited, even for relatively modern times; and secondary sources vary widely in terms of detail. In secondary sources, chronologies are sometimes sketchy and factual narrative is at times mixed with interpretation. Interviews with Dadiani descendants, communications with scholars, and visits to the Dadiani Palace Museum were helpful, but in the end it was impossible to obtain the whole picture, and some errors of fact may remain. (Readers are invited to contact us with questions or corrections.) Instead, like a painter, the creators of this site used a limited selection of shapes and colors to create an impression of an extraordinary family and the times and places associated with them.

    With these caveats in place, welcome to the world of the Dadianis...

    [1] Known in Russian as Mingrelia. Before the 19th century, called Odishi. On this website, the term “Odishi” will often be used in references to the province before the 19th century.

     

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