In many art forms, Georgia has a tradition spanning millennia. The golden age of the Georgian Empire (early twelfth century to early thirteenth century) was the time of greatest development in many forms, and subsequent centuries of occupation and political domination brought decline or dilution. Folk music and dance, however, remain an important part of Georgia's unique culture, and Georgians have made significant contributions to theater and film in the late twentieth century.
Among literary works written in Georgian, Shota Rustaveli's long poem The Knight in the Panther Skin occupies a unique position as the Georgian national epic. Supposedly Rustaveli was a government official during the reign of Queen Tamar (1184- 1212), late in the golden age. In describing the questing adventures of three hero-knights, the poem includes rich philosophical musings that have become proverbs in Georgian. Even during communist rule, the main street of the Georgian capital was named after Rustaveli.
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