Century-old history of Georgian riders in US on Tbilisi exhibition

Photographic exhibits featuring trick riders from Guria in America. Photo: Zurab Tsereteli Museum of Modern Art.
Agenda.ge, 14 Jun 2018 - 17:07, Tbilisi,Georgia

A Tbilisi display is exploring the extraordinary history of Georgian trick riders that astonished American viewers more than 100 years ago.

At the capital’s Zurab Tsereteli Museum of Modern Art, visual material on horseback riders from western Georgia’s Guria province have been selected for those interested in Georgian-American cultural history.

Over 50 photographs, videos and posters will document how the trick riders — referred to as "Russian Cossacks” due to the Imperial Russian rule over Georgia at the time — performed at American circus shows.

Photo portraits of some of the historical figures involved in shows of Georgians in the US. Photo: Zurab Tsereteli Museum of Modern Art.

Arriving in the United States in 1893, they appeared in popular shows including Buffalo Bill’s Wild West over the next three decades.

Out of all the international performers, the Georgian riders’ performance was perhaps the most popular feature of the Wild West show. Only Indians and cowboys enjoyed similar popularity”, said a summary of the exhibition.

The Georgian riders’ impact on their American counterparts was also noted by US historian Dee Brown, who wrote about "Cossack daredevils” whose "stunts on their galloping horses” impressed cowboys.

Authored by documentary filmmaker and author Irakli Makharadze, the exhibition presents material on what signified "one of the oldest known relationships between Georgia and the United States of America”, organisers said.

Georgian Horsemen in America will be open for visitors at the MoMA venue in Tbilisi through June 25.