The man in the panther’s skin by Shota Rustaveli.

pantherWritten in the 12th century, this book was written by Georgian poet Shota in honor of Queen Tamar. On day The King of Arabia, Rostevan, is out hunting with a huge party. In the woods he sees a man by the river wearing a panther’s skin (has also been translated to tiger’s skin). Rostevan want to talk to him, but the man just kills all the people Rostevan send as messages before he vanishes.  Rostavan’s only child princess Tinatin is in love with the knight Avtandil. Rostevan tells Avtandil that he can get the Tinatin’s hand in marriage if he managed to bring him the man in the panther’s skin.

When I am far from thee, think of me, love me.

I fear not my foes; I shall take care of myself

A brave man must be of good cheer, he must not mope in grief

I hate when a man hesitates at no shameful deed. – 766

It was interesting to read this after Ali and Nino. While the book places Georgia firmly in Europe, culturally, to show the ambiguity of Azerbaijan. While Georgia is culturally closer to other western Zichy,_Mihály._Illustrations_to_'The_Knight_in_the_Panther's_Skin'._1888_28European countries, Georgia is a culture that has drawn influences from both east and west. You see both the Persian and the European storytelling traditions and symbols in the poem.

Shota has also been praised for his philosophical aspects to the text. Personally, I didn’t really get so much of that, but I wouldn’t be surprised if things were lost in translation. This is a book I read up on afterwards because I knew so much of the sub-text was going over my head.

My only complaint is that considering this was made in dedication to Queen Tamar, I would have like to see more of the two characters who are clearly images of her. The two princesses are there in the text as something the men long for and talk about, and we do find out that they are very capable to take care of themselves. My complaint is that most of the things the princesses do is talked about, not showed. I would have liked to “see” it in the whole show don’t tell element.

I was surprised by the humor, I get why this was a part of a woman’s dowry and why it’s considered the most important Georgian piece of literature. Deserves to be a bigger part of the global literature discussion.

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