We all have our treasures.
The 12th century Georgian poet, Shota Rustaveli, wrote what became, and to this day still is, the crown jewel of a people’s national literature: a medieval epic romance, about two best friends on a quest to rescue their respective loves, titled “The Knight in the Panther Skin.”
I can only sing praises about “The Knight in the Panther Skin,” but will spare the reader an exact account of how I came across it (thank you Sopio for introducing me to the story; thank you Virginia for gifting me an English translation in hardcover). What I will say is that I passed the title on to my compadre, Juan Pablo. Together we gallivanted about this old tale, identified with its lovelorn heroes, and since then went off on our own separate adventures, though always feeling connected to one another by what the Georgians consider to be one of the highest virtues: friendship. (Trust you’re doing well, old friend? Answer my call today, will you?) Juan has recommended so many fantastic stories to me, stories which have touched me deeply, that this once I was happy to have gotten him hooked on this one.
Attached you will find a tiny love letter, something I felt was missing from the historic narrative (for centuries, this poem was an indispensable wedding gift, for its many passages on love, honor, and devotion), namely the history of the protagonist. Though the favorite for most readers is the knight who takes the title of the book, the main character to me is his best friend, Avt’handil. At one point in the story he goes into a mosque to pray. He is at that moment leaving his beloved, the queen T’hinat’hin, and embarking on a new quest to find the knight in the panther skin.
This love letter, framed by a more modern letter to a king, as you’ll discover, “was written” in that moment at the mosque. Not much else to say, I think. Only that I’ve felt the need to be extra conscious to treat these historic characters, the men, and the women, with utmost respect. My sincere wish for these pages was to depict the queen with the respect she deserves, and express the inner being of one of my literary idols, the loyal, and forever romantic, Avt’handil.
I hope you enjoy.