Borjgali, Coins From The Flow Of Time: 5 Tetri (Georgia, 1993)-Article

This small Georgian coin represents the 3rd denomination coin of the Georgian Lari (First Series, 1993). The Lari (ლარი) was preceded by the transitional Georgian Kuponi (კუპონი). Which served as an intermediary currency between the Soviet Ruble and Georgian Lari. The Lari has since remained the currency of Georgia, since replacing the Kuponi, on 2 October 1995. One Lari is sub-divided into 100 Tetri.


The coin is a smooth-edged design made of stainless steel and weighs 2.5 g. Its dimensions are 20 mm (0.787 in) wide and 1.6mm (0.049) in thick. Making it larger in size to a US Penny (17.91/0.705 in), in that respect. Notably all coins of the First Series from 1-20 Tetri are made of stainless steel.


Observe

The observe utilizes a a fairly simple and practical design. A testament to the austerity the period it minted and the general political mentality of the post-Soviet period. The center features a large number "1", its surface is raised with a chiseled tip. Below is text in Georgian script (თეთრი), translated as Tetri.


Below this text is a simple embellishment, a golden lion figure. This iconic figure was uncovered from 3rd century BCE kurgan (burial mound), located in the Alazani River Valley. Beyond this is an inner ring made of small arrows, which point leftward and rightward, respectably. A pair small bead, one located at the top and bottom of the observe form the dividing line.


Notably this coin features a thin outer rim, the most common type. Tetri coins featuring a thick rim are rarer, thus valuable on the collectors' market. This so-called "thick rim" is roughly twice as wide as the example seen above. Making it quite noticeable, despite the coin's relatively small size.


Reverse

The reverse prominently features a Borjgali symbol at its center. Representing the cultural and national symbol of the Georgian people. It rests on a branched base, with a pair of branches on each side. The coin's mint date (1993) rests on these branches. Split into both left (19) and right (93) sides, respectively.


The before mentioned is surrounded by wrap-around text, separated by a thin inner rim. This wrap-around text in bilingual, minted in Gregorian and English text. The upper text in Georgian script (საქართველოს რესპუბლიკა) translates to "REPUBLIC OF GEORGIA". Which is repeated in English in the lower text. Both the upper and lower is separated by 2 clusters, each containing 2 beads.


The Flow Of Time

An example of a Borjgali symbol, on a 250 Kuponi note.
An example of a Borjgali symbol, on a 250 Kuponi note.

The Borjgali is a Caucasian sun wheel symbol, featuring seven rotating wings. This symbol visually represents not only sacred number, but an act of simulated motion. Thus symbolically representing the passage of time. By associating the imagine of spinning sun, as its indefinite rising and setting.

Below this note's Borjgali is a branched base, which abstractly represents the “Tree of Life”. A symbol commonly associated with sun wheel imagery. Notably the “tree” is missing downward pointing branches, which are used to represents the past. It only features four upward branches, thus representing that only the future lies forward. Providing a subtle nationalistic undertone of a sovereign/post-Soviet, Georgian nation moving forward.

In regards to the linguistic origin of the term “Borjgali, the issue currently in debate. One common interpretation states, it's derived from the Mingrelian language. The Mingrelians are an ethnic sub-group, who live in Western Georgia, along the shores of the Black Sea. It's believed Borjgali combines the Mingrelian words “Borj” (time) and “Gal” (pass/flow). The Borjgali also displays similarities to the Armenian “Arevakhach” (Sun Cross), pointing to a degree of cultural diffusion.

Despite the symbol ancient continuity, it's use was somewhat diminished in the Soviet Georgia. Due to Soviet policy increasingly promoting the concept of a collective “Soviet People”. Since the fall of the Soviet Union (1991), usage of the Borjgali has increased. As the concept of nationalism has been increasingly normalized. Being featured on currency, official government documents, company logos, and even the Georgian Rugby Union. With it's members colloquially known as “borjgalosnebi” or “Men Bearing The Borjgali”.


Size Comparison

A Georgian 5 Tetri with US Penny for scale.
A Georgian 5 Tetri with US Penny for scale.

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