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About The Modern Medea

Written by: Mikho Mosulishvili

(As a book review with John Dos Passos, Niko Pirosmani, Hasan Helimishi, and others)

‘A Lazian fishing at night’ – a drawing of a Laz artist, Hasan Helimishi.


By Mikho Mosulishvili, author

In his travelogue, The Orient Express (1927) John Dos Passos writes about visiting Batumi and meeting the locals. He wrote that the Laz people were slender, wore bandana-like kerchiefs, looking a little like pirates, and were known along the Black Sea coast as good sailors and fisherman.

I thought I could also write about them and their seafaring life, thus disproving the Soviet myth that the people of Georgia had no connection with the sea.

In 2011 I was in Batumi and visited the small seaside resorts of Sarpi and Gonio. As a sat staring at the sea and listening to the seagulls, I pictured Medea as the sea – calm or stormy but always holding back a secret, unpredictable and deeply mysterious. She was one of the most famous women in Georgian history, but I wondered what she would have done if she lived today.

A year later I already had an experimental novel ready about the modern Medea – Helessa, Or the Azalea Azaled, the Fox Foxed, the Sea Rocked. The novel is a multi-layer narrative written mythical and ritualistic style, telling of the adventures of the Kirbish Family who sail the Black Sea trying to save a secret medicinal recipe they have held for centuries. The novel consists of a hundred and five scenes that the reader is asked to imagine as a film.

Being published true celebration for any author, but I was doubly happy because I was lucky to work with editor Tamar Gelovani, publishing house director Tamar Nachkebia, designer Lia Sulakvelidze, and others, all of whom spared no effort to make the publication appealing for readers.

Now, six years later, I still think about the book, which is when Lali Kiknavelidze, the producer and director GPU Lira Production, suggested writing a screenplay for a film based on my novel, I agreed.

Just like people, books have their own destinies. I hope more adventures lie ahead for Helessa.

About ‘Helessa, Or The Azalea Azaled, the Fox Foxed, the Sea Rocked… (a Laz maritime movie-novel, performed as a chronicle of the last journey of the feluka Kirbish, or, if you like, as an animated picture of the Laz artist, Hasan Helimishi)’ by Mikho Mosulishvili

From ‘Publishing Catalogue 2018’ by CPBA (Georgian Publishers and Booksellers Association), A page # 64. --

Batumi by Niko Pirosmani in a cover of the book Helessa, Or, Eli Elobda, Meli  Melobda, Sea buzzing, Publishing House Ustri. 2012.


Helessa, Or, Eli Elobda, Meli  Melobda, Sea buzzing… (The Georgian charm)

(Laz maritime movie novel depicted as chronicles of sail felucca Kirbishi’s last travels, or revitalized drawings of a Laz artist, Hasan Helimishi, if you will)

Logline (Content of the Book in One Phraze)

Taking advantage of May Kirbishi’s love, Yashar Badishi tries to uncover the set of directions of making the Kirbishi clan mysterious drug with the aim of selling the recipe to wealthy foreigners, Helen Meyers and Alfred Antopoulos.

For the Idea of Movie Novel

Apollonius of Rhodes, along with other Ancient authors, in his Argonautica wrote about Georgian remedial herbs and their administration. It was also known that in the lowlands of Colchis Hecate Garden (650 B.C.) was arranged where more than forty remedial herbs were grown. The very word medicine derives from the name of healer Medea, daughter of Aeetes, King of Colchis...

In the depths of Ancient Georgian folk medicine numerous healers from close clans emerged who developed their own remedies. The examples of these cases are as follows: Turmanidze ointment; Askurava‘s treatment of bone fractures by means of light dressings and ointment without plaster; family cream of the Berulava family; medicine of Nachkebia family...

Here is a far-reaching fragment from the poem Kikola’s Story  by Akaki Tsereteli:

I am a true Imeretian, born in Imereti,

Turmanidze is my family name, highly praised for healing,

I have concocted an ointment in the immortality well,

But I hide this mystery with great care.

The history records of the family teach us to cover it

And to prevent any disciple from another clan.


The oldest family of the Laz people from Sarpi, the Kirbishi family, possesses the recipe of making indispensable medicine curing people.

The Red Flower of Medea is the herb used by the Kirbishi family in making indispensable ointment, as follows:

For several centuries they have gone to sea on their felucca sailing boat and grew this herb in the earthware pot on the deck to prevent disclosure of the mystery of their drug.

Besides, medicine is made with the arrangement of mysterious rituals, and to that end, it is necessary to visit Romanian seaport of Constanta, the hamlet of Makriali in the Laz district of Turkey, and Gonio Fortress, the venues where the King of Colchis, Aeetes, laid to rest the parts of the remains of Absyrtus killed and fractured by Medea and Jason...

Yashar Badishi tries to uncover the mystery of this drug aiming at selling this recipe to the wealthy foreigners, Helen Mayers and Alfred Antopoulos, and to that end, he goes to any lengths using close relationship with the Kirbishi family and even love of May Kirbishi...

This is the reason for the rage from our Lord expressed through storms and gales...

Next year May Kirbishi having lost her relatives again goes to the sea on Kirbishi sail felucca and continues the time-honored business of the family – and as a backdrop, one can hear a song of their ancestors Helessa...

This movie novel was conceived as animated drawings of the gifted Laz artist, Hasan Helimishi...

Helessa tells us on the mystery that is part of your soul to be saved even at the expense of your life.


  • Phoka Kirbishi, Papu (grandpa in the Laz language), 60, with one leg.
  • May, Phoka’s daughter from his first deceased wife Nadie, 20.
  • Ucha, nicknamed Mshiridon (in Laz, a swallow), Phoka’s son, 10.
  • Meriem-Havana, wife of Phoka Kirbishi, mother of Ucha, step-mother to May, 55, Jinji (fortune-teller in Laz).
  • Alfred Antopoulos, businessman from Vancouver, 60.
  • Helen Meyer, wife of Alfred Antopoulos, 65, loves a doll Klabautermann.
  • Yashar Badishi, nicknamed Swimming Island, has his own pontoon boat, 25.
  • Sebastian Radu (Maparvelishi), a fisherman from the Laz hamlet of Lazu which is located to the south of the seaport Constanta.
  • Ilfan Shishmanishi, captain of the Turkish coastguard patrol boat.
  • Khatije Shishmanishi, mother of Ilfan, 70.

Also Turkish and Georgian Laz people, and others.

About the Author

Mikho Mosulishvili was born on December 10, 1962. In 1986 he graduated from Tbilisi State University (TSU), department of geology and geography. At the same time, in 1981-1984 he studied at the secondary department of the University, majoring in scriptwriting (master classes of Erlom Akhvlediani and Davit Agiashvili).

He published fifteen collections of novels, short stories, plays and translations, among which in 2011 his book Vazha-Pshavela (illustrated biography) was awarded Gala literature prize.

Plays by Mikho Mosulishvili were performed in various theatres of Georgia, on TV channels and on radio.

It is possible to see his full biography on the following link:

Translated from Georgian Guram Abashidze