First, to the world heritage sites.
Jvari Monastery (Georgian: ჯვარი, ჯვრის მონასტერი) is a Georgian Orthodox monastery of the 6th century that stands on the rocky mountaintop at the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers, overlooking the village of Mtskheta, which was formerly the capital of the Kingdom of Iberia.
According to traditional accounts, on this location in the early 4th century Saint Nino, a female evangelist credited with converting King Mirian III of Iberia to Christianity, erected a large wooden cross on the site of a pagan temple. The cross was reportedly able to work miracles and therefore drew pilgrims from all over Caucasus. A small church was erected over the remnants of the wooden cross in c.545 named the “Small Church of Jvari”.
Bagrati Cathedral (Georgian: ბაგრატი; ბაგრატის ტაძარი, or Bagratis tadzari) is a11th-century cathedral church in the city of Kutaisi, the region of Imereti, Georgia. The construction of the cathedral, named after Bagrat III, the first king of united Georgia, started at the end of the 10th century and was completed in the early years of the 11th century. Although partly destroyed by the Turks in 1691, its ruins still lie in the center of Kutaisi. The Gelati Monastery, whose main buildings were erected between the 12th and 17th centuries, is a well-preserved complex, with wonderful mosaics and wall paintings. The cathedral and monastery represent the flowering of medieval architecture in Georgia.
Svetitskhoveli (Georgian: სვეტიცხოვლის საკათედრო ტაძარი, Svet'icxovlis Sak'atedro T'aʒari; literally, "the Living Pillar Cathedral") is the royal cathedral of Georgia, used for centuries for the coronation and burial of Georgian monarchs. More importantly, it is considered one of the holiest places in Georgia since the Robe of Christ is believed to be buried here, having been brought to Georgia in the 1st century by a Jew from Mtskheta named Elias. The story tells that on his return to Mtskheta, his sister Sidonia came out to meet him and, on seeing the sacred robe, was so overcome with emotion that she clutched it to her breast and died in a state of religious ecstasy. As it was impossible to pry the robe from her grasp, it was buried with her near the confluence of the two rivers where the 11th century cathedral is now located.
Next, on to the fruits:
Since botany is not my forte, I thought it might be better if I were to show some pictures of the real fruits with their commons names and some information relating the fruit to Georgia.
This fruit shown on the stamp on the extreme right is, of course, a pomegranate (punica granatum). Pomegranates originated from Persia, but have been harvested in Georgia for centuries. The one in the picture looks delicious! Seems nice and juicy; haven't had one myself, though.
This fruit on the left hand side shows a Quince, which is realted to the apple and pear family, as you can see. The quince is native to Gerogia and the Caucasus region. To be honest, this is the firt time I have ever encountered this fruit, and I do not think that would be able to tell much of a difference if I saw them in the market nest to pears! I wonder how they taste.....
Unfortunately, I cannot identify the strange fruit in the middle! I tried looking it up using its taxonomic classification, however nothing seemed to match! Does anyone know what this fruit is? It seems rather exotic because of the mouth-like opening shown on its side! Is it a plum? Or a nut? I really can'te tell. If only I could read Georgian.....
And, for the last stamp:
The mountain in the stamp on the left side is Mount Ushba (Georgian: უშბა), which is one of the most notable peaks of the Caucasus Mountains. It is located in the Svaneti region of Georgia, just south of the border with the Kabardino-Balkaria region of Russia. Although it does not rank in the 10 highest peaks of the range, Ushba is known as the "Matterhorn of the Caucasus" for its picturesque, spire-shaped double summit.
Ms. Khatuna Kipinani, who sent this cover, has informed me that the "strange fruit" that I was unable to identify is actually an orchid! No wonder it seems to have an opening, which would be quite strange for a fruit. Really, I would fail a botany test on identification if I were to ever take one!