Readying for a supra at a Georgian restaurant in Tbilisi
Readying for a supra at a Georgian restaurant in Tbilisi

A supra (Georgian: სუფრა [supʰra]) is a traditional Georgian feast and a part of Georgian social culture. There are two types of supra: a festive supra (ლხინის სუფრა, [lxinis supʰra]), called a keipi, and a sombre supra (ჭირის სუფრა, [tʃʼɪrɪs sʊpʰra]), called a kelekhi, that is always held after burials.

The traditions of supra, as an important part of Georgian social culture, were inscribed on the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Georgia list in 2017.[1][2] Traditionally, and for many Georgians, up to the present, the foregrounded participants at a supra are men, with women relegated to secondary, supporting roles (especially as far as food preparation is concerned).[3]

Etymology

In Georgian, "supra" literally means "table-cloth" and, over centuries, it has become essentially synonymous with feasts where a large table is ordinarily set. The word for "table-cloth" itself is likely related to the Persian word sofre, although it does not have the same connotations outside of the Georgian language context.[4] Large public meals are never held in Georgia without a supra; when there are no tables, the supra is laid on the ground.

Rules

Rather than serving food in courses, traditional supras often present all that a host has to offer
Rather than serving food in courses, traditional supras often present all that a host has to offer
Begos' friends by Niko Pirosmani. A tamada holding a kantsi (horn) and introducing a toast at a keipi (festive supra)
Begos' friends by Niko Pirosmani. A tamada holding a kantsi (horn) and introducing a toast at a keipi (festive supra)

Regardless of size and type, a supra is always led by a tamada, or toastmaster, who introduces each toast during the feast. The tamada is elected by the banqueting guests or chosen by the host. A successful tamada must possess great rhetorical skill and be able to consume a large amount of alcohol without showing signs of drunkenness.[5][6][7]

During the meal, the tamada will propose a toast, and then speak at some length about the topic. The guests raise their glasses, but do not drink. After the tamada has spoken, the toast continues, often in a generally counter-clockwise direction (to the right). The next guest who wishes to speak raises their glass, holds forth, and then drains their glass. If a guest does not wish to speak, they may drink from their glass after some words that particularly resonate for him or her.

Eating is entirely appropriate during toasts, but talking is frowned upon. Once everyone who wishes to speak on the theme has done so, the tamada proposes a new toast, and the cycle begins again. Some popular traditional themes include toasts to God, Georgia, family, the mother of God, various saints, friends, ancestors, and so on. However, the theme of each toast is up to the tamada, who should be able to tailor his or her toasts to the occasion.

A keipi toast is called sadghegrdzelo (სადღეგრძელო, [sadɣɛɡrdzɛlɔ]), while a kelekhi toast is called a shesandobari (შესანდობარი, [ʃɛsandɔbarɪ]).

See also

References

  1. ^ "არამატერიალური კულტურული მემკვიდრეობა" [Intangible Cultural Heritage] (PDF) (in Georgian). National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  2. ^ "UNESCO Culture for development indicators for Georgia (Analytical and Technical Report)" (PDF). EU-Eastern Partnership Culture & Creativity Programme. October 2017. pp. 82–88. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  3. ^ Linderman, Laura Joy (2011). "The Gendered Feast: Experiencing a Georgian Supra". Anthropology of East Europe Review. 29 (2): 22–50.
  4. ^ Tuite, K. (2010). "The Autocrat of the Banquet Table: the political and social significance of the Georgian supra". In Vamling, K. (ed.). Language, History and Cultural Identities in the Caucasus. Papers from the conference, June 17-19 2005, Malmö University (PDF). Malmö: Dept. of International Migration and Ethnic Relations, Malmö University. pp. 9–35. ISBN 978-91-7104-088-6.
  5. ^ Mühlfried, Florian (2006). Postsowjetische Feiern: Das Georgische Bankett im Wandel (in German). Stuttgart: ibidem-Verlag.
  6. ^ Manning, Paul (2012). Semiotics of Drink and Drinking. New York: Continuum. ISBN 9781441160188.
  7. ^ "Sharing the same blood – culture and cuisine in the Republic of Georgia". Retrieved 2008-08-09.