Migration

Throughout history the Khevsuris have undergone several powerful
processes of migration. As far back as the 4th century, when St. Nino sent the representatives of the Kartli Kingdom to the mountains with the purpose of converting the pagan population to Christianity, according to the chronicler, “…the Pkhovelni* abandoned their native land and moved to Tusheti”. That was a forced step taken by the Khevsuris for the avoidance of the renunciation of their traditional faith that found expression in seeking relative safety. In the 17th-18th centuries the Khevsuris forcibly moved to Ertso-Tianeti, Dusheti district, Khevi, Ksani Gorge and Mtiuleti-Gudamaqari. A compulsory migration to the plain for taking up residence in new settlements of Shiraqi (now the Dedoplistskaro district), which took place in the early twentieth century, was especially painful and perturbing. Also, many high-mountainous villages were deserted in the 1950s as a result of the obligatory migration to the arid desert of the Samgori valleys initiated by the government of the Soviet regime without any rational explanation or reasoning. The reason for this rural exodus by the Khevsuris must have been a lack of arable land and severe natural conditions. Economic hardship made it more and more impossible for the Khevsuris to keep families and the fertile lowland of Kakheti became their only resort.