hidden europe 9

Banking on poets

by hidden europe


Nineteenth century poets often nurtured the flower of national consciousness; today they are rewarded with pride of place on many European banknotes.

The political changes in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union created a field day for banknote designers. With a chance for a new currency and the icons and idols of the immediate past now discredited, many countries had to delve deep to find pictorial fodder for their banknotes. The blossoming of nineteenth century national consciousness provided rich pickings. As noted in our preceding feature on Georgia, the nineteenth century poet Ilia Chavchavadze inspired a newly independent Georgia. His canonisation prompted a flurry of religious icon production, and nowadays Georgia is overflowing with icons of St Ilia the Righteous. But St Ilia is a man of many talents, entrusted not only with heavenly intercession on behalf of the Georgian people, but also with more worldly affairs. For his image appears on the country's 20 lari banknote.

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