Blood forgiveness ritual in Pankisi: by Marina Gaurgashvili and Leila Kavtarashvili

 Twelve years ago, in the valley of Pankisi a member of Alkhanashvili family killed forty years old Tamaz Imedashvili because they had a discord. After this, between these two families started an enmity. This case in Pankisi ended in the taking of blood. In order to settle this quarrel peacefully, the community of elders in Pankisi talked with the family of Imedashvili and made them to agree to “excuse the blood.”

  The valley of Pankisi in Georgia is settled with Kist people, where justice is held according to traditional tribunal. Traditional tribunal has a long history. The tribunal is governed by the elders of Pankisi. They are respected and they protect Kist people’s traditions and rules. The ceremony of excuse blood is rare but still is upheld in Pankisi. The elders say to settle peacefully this argument isn’t easy. While the representative of Alkhanashvili were going to take blood. Tamaz Imedashvili died and there was the purpose of Imedashvili’s that they may kill other representatives of Alkhanashvili.

  The ceremony of excuse blood is that villagers go to the family of the killed man with elders and ask permission that guilty’s family may enter their house to ask their excuse. If the victim’s family doesn’t want to excuse, the eldest supplicate to excuse. If they excuse, both family representatives shake hands and congratulate each other.

  After they excuse, both family representatives are obliged to go on with their life peacefully. The guilty person’s family is obliged to act respectfully to the family  which excused them. The family which excused blood of the guilty can demand to exile guilt’s family from village or valley.

   There were cases when after excuse of blood the guilty acted roughly and victim’s family took blood in spite of excuse. This is of course clear that people mustn’t pass limits. “They must always be modest and careful with victim’s family.” says Elders Council Representative in Pankisi, Khaso khangoshvili.

   In the forgiveness ritual, only men take part. Women only congratulate each other after the decision. This tradition existed centuries ago. If one family representative kills second family’s representative, he takes blood in revenge. Blood taking tradition is inevitable, because everyone knows if he kills anyone the same happens to him.

Often, in blood taking tradition innocent people are victims because the victim’s family could kill the guilty’s brother, cousin or any male close relative. So, Pankisi Gorge elders decided that the victim’s family can kill only killer, not relatives.

   “Mekhq khel” is one of the hardest judgements, especially when the theme is blood taking. The court pays very uch attention to how it has happened: accidentally or willingly. In Pankisi Gorge the traditional national court is very popular. When people want to decide a quarrel first they apply to the traditional court. If defendant doesn’t come on court then they apply for country court.

   In the case, if the victim’s family doesn’t complain and country court put the guilty in prison, the blood taking continues after he leaves the prison.