Icon of Kvireghvtishvili
Exploring the ruined towers in the village of Pkhelshe, you will find the “Icon of Kvireghvtishvili“, also known as the Women’s Icon.
The unusual statue takes the form of a weasel, bearing a small metal icon with the face of Christ. The weasel is dressed in white robes and adorned with earrings and other jewellery, with bells around its neck. Traditionally, the festival of Kvireghvtishvili was held on Ascension Day and only women were permitted to take part.
Each year, an unmarried virgin was selected as Archpriestess to lead the festival. The Archpriestess was dressed in white robes and blessed the women who came to pray to Kvireghvtishvili for health and fertility. The Archpriestess accepted sacrifices(sacrifice from prayers) from the women, and lit candles and prayed for them.
Sick women paid tribute to the Icon of Kvireghvtishvili, bringing gifts of silver and jewellery as they prayed for a cure. The face of Christ was removed from the statue and paraded through the village, then adorned with robes and the women’s gifts. After the blessings, a table was laid below the weasel statue and the women enjoyed a celebratory feast.
In earlier times, the worship of Kvireghvtishvili was found throughout the valley. Even today, this tradition continues in villages such as Pkhelshe and Goristsikhe.