Being widely used both in religious and folk architecture and applied arts, woodwork has been amongst the most developed traditional crafts in Georgia.
The 10th-11th century woodcarved church doors from Chukuli and Jakhunderi (Svaneti), Lashes-Vani, Mgvimevi (Imereti) amongst others, which feature figural images and wide variety of ornamental patterns, speak to the refined skills of Georgian medieval masters. Alongside church doors mostly made of walnut, wood carved frames and chancel screens with refined ornaments are preserved from the Middle Ages.
Alongside ecclesiastic objects, woodcarving was widely used in folk architecture and objects of everyday life such as traditional furniture: armchairs, bedsteads, chests, cradles, musical instruments (traditional instruments with strings chonguri and panduri) and tableware. Embellishment with wood carved ornaments was especially widespread in the highland regions of the country. The variety of woodcarving ornaments mostly feature geometric patterns, astral symbols, stylized anthropomorphic and zoomorphic imagery, which are typical for both furniture design and folk architecture.
Woodworking techniques were essential for domestic architecture in every region of the country, widely applied in darbazi type structures, prevalent in Eastern and Southern part of the country, the openwork wooden Oda-type houses built on wooden “legs” typical to western lowland of Georgia, or magnificent interior of machubi in Svaneti. Amongst these, the decoration of darbazi type structures and namely of its central wooden column (dedabodzi) is worth of special mentioning. The latter is abundantly decorated with wood-carved geometric ornamental, astral imagery maintained throughout centuries. The peculiar technique of work in wood is found in same darbazi type structures in Akhaltskhikhe, where the walls are covered with inlayed wood panels, speaking to the exquisite mastery of the craftsman.
If the domestic architecture of Svaneti and south-eastern Georgia makes special focus on the decoration of interiors with wood carved ornaments, the Oda-type houses in western lowlands emphasised the exterior, and namely the balcony decorated with wide range of openwork ornamental patters, including foliage motives barely found in the eastern part of the country.
The classical type of the openwork wooden Oda houses emerged in the 19th century (2nd half). In this period exterior and particularly adornment of the balcony became the main focus for master builders. The Old Tbilisian type of house with openwork balcony clearly demonstrates this tendency. The particular type of a house became predominant soon after in other cities of the country. The old traditions of woodworking reshaped to cope with new tendencies. It seems however, that the imagery applied in openwork ornamentation often incorporates ancient motives going back to the hoary past.
Currently woodworking techniques are widely used to decorate religious objects such as church doors, icons, crosses etc. Meanwhile, the traditions of folk furniture making and wooden architecture are maintained in several regions of the country. Amongst these are Svaneti, Racha and Upper Achara, where this tradition is still kept alive in everyday life.