Antisa Khvichava rests during her 130th birthday party in the village of Sachino in Georgia. Photograph: David Mdzinarishvili/Reuters
Authorities in the former Soviet republic of Georgia claim that a woman from a remote mountain village has turned 130, making her the oldest person in the world.
Antisa Khvichava from western Georgia was born on 8 July 1880, said Georgiy Meurnishvili, spokesman for the civil registry at the justice ministry.
The woman, who lives with her 40-year-old grandson in a vine-covered country house in the mountains, retired from her job as a tea and corn picker in 1965 when she was 85, records say.
“I’ve always been healthy and I’ve worked all my life – at home and at the farm,” said Khvichava. She never went to school to learn Georgian and speaks only the local language, Mingrelian.
Her age could not be independently verified because her birth certificate was lost – one of the great number to have disappeared in the past century amid revolutions and a civil war that followed the collapse of the Russian empire.
But Meurnishvili showed two Soviet-era documents that he says attest to her age. Scores of officials, neighbours, friends and descendants backed up her claim as the world’s top senior.
The Gerontology Research Group recognises 114-year-old Eugenie Blanchard of St Barthelemy, France, as the world’s oldest person. The organisation is yet to examine Khvichava’s claim.
She has a son, 10 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and six great- great-grandchildren.
Her 70-year-old son, Mikhail, apparently was born when his mother was 60. She said she also had two children from a previous marriage but they died of hunger during the second world war.
Although Khvichava has difficulty walking and has stayed largely in bed during the past seven years, she makes a point of hobbling unaided to the outhouse on the other side of the yard, according to Mikhail.
Although her fingers are cramped by age and she can no longer maintain her love of knitting, relatives say her mind remains sharp.
“Grandma has a very clear mind and she hasn’t lost an ability to think rationally,” said Khvichava’s granddaughter, Shorena, who lives in a nearby village.
To mark her birthday a string ensemble played folk music on the lawn, while grandchildren offered traditional Mingrelian dishes such as corn porridge and spiced chicken with herbs to all guests at the party.