KETEVAN TSAMEBULI (KETEVAN THE MARTYR) IN THE LETTERS OF PIETRO DELLA VALLE
I offer readers some completely up to-date unknown episodes of Ketevan the Martyr’s captivity in Persia, Shiraz which are presented in the letters of Pietro Della Valle, who was an Italian traveler, historian, archeologist, diplomatist, writer, poet and a lover of music. These are the notifications about the Queen Ketevan scattered in the letters (there are 56 letters in total, 2 of them are lost) sent to Rome which he wrote during his twelve years travelling in the Eastern countries (in Ottoman, Persia, India) and which have never been in the scientific circulation.
Della Valle had never travelled in Georgia but he knew the Georgians who were banished from their homeland and exiled to different parts of Persia, particularly to Ispahan and Shiraz by Shah Abbas. He had a close relationship and friendship with some of such Georgians. It is also worth mentioning that he had a Georgian wife Tinatin di Ziba who was grown up by him (Tinatin was called Mariucha in Della Valle’s family and he also mentioned her by this name in his letters).
Being appreciated by Georgians, he tried to do many good deeds for their benefit. He was an initiator and organizer to send the Catholic missionaries to Georgia. Thus Della Valle gave a significant boost to Georgia’s rapprochement with Europe. This process lasted for almost two centuries,-from the 20s of XVII century till the end of the XVIII century.
The purpose of the present article is to introduce Pietro Della Valle’s information to a reader about a famous, dedicated to Georgia and Christian (Orthodox) church, the Queen Ketevan’s (the Martyr’s) several episodes during her captivity in Shiraz. Della Valle had never personally met the Queen, although he knew those clerics who were in the Queen’s surrounding. One of the Georgian nobleman, sir Merab also provided Della Valle with the interesting information about the Queen.
But especially noteworthy is the role of the aforementioned Tinatin (Mariucha) in the relationship between Queen Ketevan and the Italian traveler. Tinatin mediated between them. Tinatine was a frequent visitor to the Queen, and after her returning she used to tell Della Valle in detail what she had seen and heard at the Queen's residence. Those gifts (icons and books) which the Queen and Della Valle sent to each other, are very interesting.
The Georgian translations of the passages from Della Valle’s letters are presented in the appendix of the article.
Keywords: Pietro Della Valle, Ketevan, Tinatin, Persia, Shiraz, Merab