Old Georgian manuscripts occupy a special place in the treasury of the Georgian national culture. In ancient Georgia great attention was paid to the decoration of manuscripts of books, beautiful fulfilment of the manuscript itself. The examples of Georgian illustrated books are by no means of the same important as the monuments of architecture, fresco painting, wood carving. In the period from the V to the XVIII centuries the ornamentation of Georgian manuscript books passed through several stages of development and each of them is characterized by fixed artistic and stylistic features.
In the V- VI cent. palimpsests the manuscript pages are left without ornaments, nevertheless, their artistic effect is great. The subtle feeling for beauty characteristic for the creators of Georgian manuscript books becomes apparent already on this early stage of development of Georgian book-making art. Such artistic methods as distribution of the text on the page in two columns, choice of the colour of ink, beautiful letters, showing of separate parts of the text by means of initial letters — enlarged capital letters written beyond the limits of the vertical line of the column of the text on the margins, became later the basis of the art of ornamentation of Georgian manuscript books.
In the IX-X cent. manuscripts were written with a brilliant painting technique. These are the Four Gospels from Adishi, Jruchi, etc. The high artistic qualities give us the right to think of the existence of more earlier Georgian monuments of this kind. In the process of creation of Georgian manuscript books we could point out two trends of artistic development: graphical and painting.
Georgian Miniatures, National Centre of Manuscripts
The first one (the songs of Michael Modrekili, Astronomical treatise, lenashi's, Four Gospels) is characterized by tender, soft colours, considering the tinge of the parchment in the whole colouristic gamut. Special attention is paid to the graphical aspect - thin contours without gold and painted in water colours. As to the trend of the second type (Gelati, the Second Jruchi Four Gospels, Synaxarium of Ekvthime Mtatsmideli) the painting methods of many layers (their colour is altered by paints mixed with whiting) are used here; the paints are intensive, opaque. Gold oven the cinnabar foundation outlines each detail. The ornamental picture sometimes reminds of cloisonne enamel. These two directions of artistic development existed simultaneously for many centuries.