|Georgian poet, scholar, and journalist. Raphael Eristavi was descended from the powerful noble family of the Eristavis of Aragvi and studied in gymnasiums in Telavi and Tbilisi before starting his service in the Russian viceroy’s administration. He eventually became a member of the Caucasian Censorship Committee. Eristavi contributed articles on various issues to the journal Kavkaz and played an important role in establishing the Georgian Museum, Georgian theater, and the Society for the Advancement of Learning Among the Georgians. From 1884–1886, he directed the Georgian Drama Society and participated in the scientific study of the text of Shota Rustaveli's Vepkhistkaosani (The Knight in Panther's Skin) poem in 1882.
Eristavi’s first major work appeared in 1852 when the journal Tsiskari published his story Oborvanets (in Russian) followed by his first Georgian novelette, Nino, in 1857. In later years, he wrote the poems Ghvino (1868) Tandilas dardi (1882), Beruas chivili, Beruas chafikreba (1883), Aspindzis omi, Tamariani (1887), Dedaena, Neta ras stiri dediko?, Ras erchi mag bichs tataro (1881), Samshoblo khevsurisa (1881) ,and others. Eristavi also tried vaudevilles, and his first play, Mbrunavi stolebi, appeared in 1868 followed by Dedakastma tu gaitsia, tskhra ugheli kharis umdzlavresia (1870), Jer daikhotsnen, mere iqortsines, Suratebi chveni khalkhis tskhovrebidan, and others.
Through his journalism and scholarship, Eristavi played an important role in the development of Georgian ethnography and folk studies. He traveled widely all over Georgia and studied in detail the traditions in the mountainous regions of Georgia, especially in Khevsureti, Pshavi, Tusheti, and Svaneti. His works attracted the Russian public by their fluent Russian narrative and the interesting materials which Eristavi retrieved from his travels. Together with Ilia Chavchavadze, he published Glekhuri simgherebi, leksebi da andazebi which compiled folk songs and poems; in 1873, he also published Kartuli sakhalkho poezia on Georgian folk poetry, and four years later, he authored a book on Georgian proverbs and riddles. In the 1870s, Eristavi helped develop Georgian lexicology and technical terminology and produced several dictionaries, including the Latin-Russian-Georgian Plant Dictionary, Georgian-Russian-Latin Language Dictionary, and the first edition of Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani’s Kartuli Leksikoni (1884). His fiftieth jubilee was a national event celebrated by many poets and public figures.
The Land of the Khevsuris