Antisa Khvichava, a Georgian woman who claimed to be the world’s oldest living person as she lived through the Russian Revolution, has died at the age of 132.
Antisa Khvichava, who lived in the remote mountain village of Sachino in Georgia, held Soviet-era documents which said she was born on 8 July 1880, but her age was contested and never proven.
The woman, who lived with her 42-year-old grandson in an idyllic vine-covered country house in the mountains, retired from her job as a tea and corn picker in 1965, when she was aged 85.
Antisa Khvichava was said to have had 12 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren, and four great-great grandchildren – and attributed her good health to drinking a small amount of local brandy every day.
Her 72-year-old son Mikhail was apparently born when his mother was 60. Antisa Khvichava said she also had two children from a previous marriage – but they died of hunger during World War Two.
Antisa Khvichava lived through two world wars along with the rise and fall of the Soviet Union. Officials, neighbors, friends, and descendants have backed up her claim as the world’s oldest living person.
Her birth certificate was lost – one of many in the past century amid revolutions and a civil war which followed the end of the USSR – but she had two Soviet-era documents which attested to her age.
Experts doubted her claim, substantiated on birth documents much younger than her. Georgia became part of the Soviet Union in 1921 – and was part of the Russian empire when she was “born”.
Without 130-year-old documents, University of California lecturer and Gerontology Research Group member Stephen Coles said the claim will “remain a curiosity in a newspaper or floating on the internet”.
She only spoke in her local language of Mingrelian, and said in 2010 through a translator at her 130th birthday party: “I’ve always been healthy, and I’ve worked all my life – at home and at the farm.”
Antisa Khvichava had trouble walking, stayed largely in bed over the past decade and her cramped fingers meant she could not maintain her love of knitting – but relatives said her mind stayed sharp.
To mark her 130th birthday, a string group played folk music out on the lawn, while grandchildren offered traditional Mingrelian dishes such as corn porridge and spiced chicken with herbs.
“Grandma has a very clear mind and she hasn’t lost an ability to think rationally,” her granddaughter Shorena, who lives in a nearby village, said in an interview at the time.
The world’s oldest living person verified by Guinness World Records was Besse Cooper, of Monroe, Georgia, who celebrated her 116th birthday in August and was born in Tennessee in 1896. She also died this week.
But the oldest person fully authenticated by Guinness was the French woman Jeanne Calment, who lived to 122 years and 164 days before dying in August 1997 at a nursing home in Arles.