Vessels for drinking beer

The ritual and cult function of beer is closely connected with beer drinking vessels, the most important of which is a specially adorned silver bowl, the so-called chalice, decorated with different jewelry: silver coins, chains and some other accessories coming from a Georgian national costume.

It is only allowed to draw beer from the cask with the silver chalice, since it is a sacred vessel, but if a man has sinned, he will never allow himself to drink beer from it. In prayers, the bowl is referred to as a holy chalice. Its sacral meaning is seen from the following ritual:   once a year it is brought out in front of the congregation and the whole community welcomes it by paying homage to it. The chalice is thought to be coming from heaven, being directly connected with the origin of the cult, it bears the sign of the God's children and the cross emerges from it. "This heavenly chalice" (or the sign of a cross) appears in front of the community in the image of a dove. When the chieftain holds the chalice, it acquires a special power. To express veneration towards the chalice it is adorned with jewels. The empty chalice is filled with beer and the folks receive communion, then everybody drinks from it, which symbolizes the idea of the unity of the community. Drinking from the chalice also has its rules: the folks have to kneel and drink so, without touching the chalice with hands.

The flag of the holy image occupies an important place in the ritual of mountains and is considered the greatest sanctity. The flag is adorned by silver coins, chains, beads, bells and crosses that had been sacrificed by people. Sometimes its handle is crowned by the spearhead of a lance or sometimes by a cross. In Khevsureti they disassemble the flag and keep it so. Before its use, the chieftain or a master assembles it and during the process he has to keep silence, i.e. he has no right to speak to someone. When ready, the flag is brought out and the chieftain starts the ceremonial service.

The Khevsurians believe that the flag has been snatched from the demons' world and that it bodes victory. Generally, it is a symbol of bravery and is a sacred relic that accompanies the folks in battles. At the same time, the power of holy image is embodied in it. It is the main attribute and the symbol of unity and eternity. No festivity is held without the flag. The jingling sounds coming from it arouse respect and joy in believers' hearts and bode that the secret power of the holy image and grace go to each of them.

 It is well known, that the ritual vessels and religious attributes were sacred and had a great value. That is why the treasurer had a great responsibility for  guarding them.
As the treasure was sacred, it had to be hidden secretly and could only be exposed during festivities to perform rituals. The treasure of some of the churches was quite valuable. The more valuable the treasure they possessed the more powerful and influential the church would be. According to Vakhushti Batonishvili, Pshavi Lashari church had a rich treasury. Together with beer drinking vessels, they possessed silver and gold crosses, books and icons. All this treasure had been sacrificed by individual people and this way the church gained more and more wealth. The treasure was so sacred that it was not allowed to sell or give away any of the items. The study of materials connected with beer production in Georgian mountains clearly proves the fact, that the role of beer and its use in cult rituals has distinctly established traditional forms. It undoubtedly indicates that the drink has been consumed in Georgia from immemorial times.

 

 
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