Project Detail: The Lelo


Reportage and Documentary 2019




Guido Caltabiano



Project Info

The Lelo

A story of sand wine and sweat

Lanchkhuti. Georgia.
A combination of rugby and wrestling, no rules, no time limit and number of players. 16 kilograms of ball filled with sand and red wine. Two teams, Lower and Upper Shukhuti, challenge each other on the day of Orthodox Easter on a 200 square meter field bordered by two streams.
A gunshot marks the start of the game and the first launch is entrusted to the village priest, Mama Saba.
The game ends when a team manages to get the ball over the stream belonging to the team.
Tradition wants that at the end of the game the winning team goes to the cemetery to place the ball on the grave of one of the last dead players belonging to the same team.
Lelo is one of the oldest Georgian words and literally means "get something by force". It is a pagan game that is now recognized by the Orthodox church. It is a sport, it is a tradition but most of all it is passion, strength, faith and devotion.