The Last Two-Hundred
Raia Kulatamishvili carefully prepares the chicken, egg and rice dish. She involves Tengo, her 9 year-old grandson, as it is through food and retold memories that the 73-year-old grandmother passes onto the young generation the fading Udi traditions. Tengo has happily embraced it—he regularly attends the weekly Udi language after-school classes, and promises his grandma to keep all of his ancestral traditions alive in the remote village of Zinobiani, in southeastern Georgia.
Considered as the descendants of the Caucasian Albanians who populated a historical region of the eastern Caucasus on the territory of part of present-day Azerbaijan and southern Dagestan, Udi people are scattered across Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan, where majority of them live today. They reportedly migrated from Azerbaijan to Georgia in the 1920s, lead by an Udi leader, Zinob Selikoshvili—hence, the name of the village Zinobiani. In 1937, the Soviets forced Selikoshvili into exile and changed the name of the the village to October, only to switch again at the end of Soviet Union.
Today, an estimated number of 200 Udis live in Georgia, mostly in Zinobiani. They are struggling to preserve their cultural identity and save the Udi language, a north-east Caucasian language, from extinction.