Oct 26, 2010, 12:28 PM |

The Smithsonian, in association with the National Parlimentary Library of Georgia, published some information on the Georgian aristocratic house of Dadiani in which I discovered some fascinating items.

Before presenting them, I want to direct my adoring readers to other pages I've published on Prince Dadian of Mingrelia, one of the most interesting figures in chess in the latter part of the 19th century:
                      My Dadian Page
                      How I study History
                      Georgian Prince
                      Prince of Mingrelia, Part I
                      Prince of Mingrelia, Part II
                      Prince of Mingrelia, Part III


note: Dadian is sometimes Dadiani, and the transliteration of his first name has been Andre, Andrei, Andrey and Andria

The Smithsonian writes:

Prince Dadian of Mingrelia

"Niko’s brother Andria Dadiani (1850-1910) owned an estate in Kiev, Ukraine—a three-story building covered with pink stone tiles, and with floors tiled in a chessboard-like pattern that reflected Andria’s love for chess. "


Church of the Virgin, Martvili

" Two churches in the village of Martvili—Martvili Chkondidi  and the Church of the Virgin—date back to the seventh century, although both were extensively altered over the course of the many centuries since their initial construction. Modifications to the Church of the Virgin included the addition of a number of now-famous mural paintings in the 14th-17th  centuries; the Getty Foundation recently funded a project aimed at conservation of the Church’s frescoes. The Church is also known for its displays of portraits of donors and patrons who supported it over the centuries. Several Dadiani Principals and other family members are buried in the village of Martvili, including the last of the line:  Levan V Dadiani (1804-1840) and his wife Martha; their son David Dadiani (1840-1853) and his wife Ekaterine; and their sons Nikolas, David, and Andria."

They then give a brief biographical sketch and conclude with:

"The Strange Story of Andria’s Watch
     Andria Dadiani’s gold watch, now on display along with other personal effects of the prince in the Dadiania Palace Museum in Zugdidi, initially belonged to his mother Ekaterine. It was custom made in Britain, with an inscription indicating it was crafted by “the watch-master of the Queen of England.” It shows time, date, day of the week, month, and phase of the moon. After receiving the watch as a birthday gift from his mother, Andria had the coat of arms of the Dadiani dynasty inscribed on it, and he always carried it with him. It was, in short, both a valuable family treasure to the Dadianis and an artifact of historical interest to the Georgian nation.
     When Andria died in 1910, the watch was passed to Ucha Dadiani , after whose death it was lost. Over the years, it was gradually forgotten by almost everyone. In 1959, the State Company of Folk Dance of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic, led by Nino Ramishvili and Iliko Sukhishvili, was on tour in the United States, giving performances in several major cities. After one of these shows, the dancers were invited to a restaurant by a prominent Georgian expatriate—Levan Dadiani, a nephew of Ucha Dadiani. At this meal, Levan handed a precious object to Iliko Sukhishvili, asking her to pass it along to the Dadiani Palace Museum: Andria Dadiani’s lost watch.
Long after the watch had been given up for lost by his family, Levan stumbled upon it while browsing at a collectors’ shop, and recognized it as his ancestor’s time piece. The shop owner initially refused to sell the watch, but was eventually forced to return it to Levan, who was deemed its legal owner.
In an interview, Levan later confessed that he had been tempted to keep the watch. However, he decided to return it to its homeland because he feared that after his own death, this unique historical treasure would once again find itself in the hands of strangers who did not appreciate its significance.

     Andria never married, although he had romantic relationships with several women. The reason Andria choose the life of a bachelor is unknown, although it may have been that he simply enjoyed his freedom and did not want to tie himself down with commitment.
     The chess player and writer Tengiz Giorgadze casts some light on Andria’s relationships with women, as well as his prickly sense of pride. Giorgadze relates an anecdote that he heard in 1956 from Metodi Khoshtaria, a well-known agronomist who worked in the 1890s at a national park in Nice, France, where Andria spent his summers. Evidently, Andria was generally very popular with the French women, but could become quite petulant toward those who resisted to his charms. One day Andria was riding his horse in the park when he noticed a young lady who had spurned his advances, sharing champagne on the balcony of a restaurant with a male friend. Seeing this, Andria ordered a bottle of champagne and made a show of sharing it with his horse— prompting the insulted woman to leave the restaurant. "


Just for fun, here is a game Dadian played against Doubrava in 1896 :