The Republic of Dagestan is a huge community of various indigenous peoples, the most numerous of which are Avars. This nation largely shaped the national identity of the region, having a serious impact on its culture. The history and fate of the Avar people is inseparably linked with the history of the Land of Mountains.
A brief history of the origin of the Avars
Sometimes you can hear the question: “What kind of a nation is such an Avar?” According to one of the versions, the representatives of the ethnic group are descendants of the Avars and the self-name of the nation originated on behalf of “Avar” – the great ruler of the state of Sarir. However, according to other ethnographers, the inhabitants of the Khunzakh plateau, where the Avar Khanate was located, were called so.
Today, representatives of this Caucasian people can be found in any region of our country. This is due to the fact that the Avars are the largest ethnic group living in the territory of modern Dagestan.
The number of Avars in RD alone is about 100 thousand people. In fact, there are much more of them, since the Avars live not only in the cities of central Russia, but also abroad – in Azerbaijan and Georgia. Avars can be found in many other former republics of the USSR, and even in Turkey. But, of course, they live centrally in Dagestan, making up about a third of the total population of the region.
According to the statements of individual chronicles (for example, the Georgian “Kartlis Tskhovreba”), once Avars owned vast lands, ranging from the Volga and the Caspian Sea to the Terek valleys. Like it or not, it is difficult to say today. Historians are still arguing about the origin of the Avars. As noted above, most researchers attribute them to the descendants of the Avars, the militant people who came to the territory of the Caucasus as early as the 5th-6th centuries.
Some of them went further to Europe, and some tribes settled here and gradually assimilated with those peoples who inhabited these lands from the old days. The Ando-Tsez peoples are ethnically close to the Avars, which speaks of the interpenetration of languages and cultures.
Scientists, based on research data, find some connection between the Eurasian Avars and those Avars who live in the Caucasus today. Definitely nothing can be said, because in this region traditionally there is a mixture of ethnic groups, and the Avar people themselves are genetically studied rather poorly. However, it can be said that their history itself began from the period of the creation of the state of Sarir, which existed from the 6th to the 11th centuries in the mountainous part of Dagestan.
The state of Sarir was strong and large, it bordered on the Georgian principalities, the Khazaria and Alania. The ancient Avars were quite a warlike people. Their main political and territorial opponents were the Khazars. Often they converged with numerous armies in heavy fighting.
In the VIII – IX centuries, Sarir was ruled by the Arabs, then regained its independence. After that, the Avars participated in the wars against Derbent and Shirvan – small regional state formations. In the tenth century it was a very powerful state and even dictated its conditions to its neighbors. Largely contributed to this success and good relations with Alania.
The collapse of integrity occurred at the end of the XI century. This was due to internal contradictions, primarily on religious grounds. The majority of the inhabitants of Sarir were Christians, but Khazar Judaism, Arabic Islam and the paganism of small nations led to strong differences and weakening of the country. As a result, the western territory broke away from Sarir, and the state itself disintegrated into independent territories, including the Avar Khanate.
In the XIII century, the Avars were forced to confront the forces of the Mongols, who were going to conquer the mountain parts of Dagestan. Then between the Avar state and the Golden Horde an alliance of danniches was concluded. Apparently, these periods (relations with the Arabs first, then with the Mongols) also influenced not only the mentality, but in many respects their appearance.
It is worth looking at the Avar photos to see certain Middle Eastern features in their faces, and in some cases, distant Asian ones. In addition, the formation of the appearance and character of the Avars was greatly facilitated by another period: in the XVIII century, the Accident fell under the power of the Persians.
It is worth noting that they did not intend to accept the new rulers and put up desperate resistance to the Iranians. Despite all the efforts being made, Persia was never able to completely break the independence of this people, as a result of which the Iranian commander Nadir Shah only weakened her own military power and achieved to a certain extent the reduction of influence on other peoples of Persia itself.
As for the Iranian troops, then, according to documents of the time and modern historians, not all Persians left the Caucasus – many of them remained here and replenished the population of Dagestan and Chechnya.
The end of the 18th – beginning of the 19th centuries became a turning point in the history of the people, since Russia came to the Caucasus. At that time, the Avar state government was already tired of the constant claims of independence by the Persians and the Turks. At first, Petersburg made the same mistakes as other parties who wanted to extend their attention to these territories.
The first years of Russian expansion were in many ways similar to the Persian, which caused rejection of the new authorities by the Highlanders. In the end, this led to the Caucasian War. Imam Shamil stood up to protect the interests of his people, and the battle of Ahulgo became the most famous and remembered battle. Unfortunately, most of the Avar population in the battle was killed by the royal troops.
The Russian leadership made the right conclusions: changed tactics and began to do everything so that its patronage became an attractive factor for the inhabitants of the region. As a result, this tactic has justified itself. The Avar elite realized that St. Petersburg, leaving it a certain freedom of action, offered to protect the entire territory from invasions and ruin on the part of Iran and Turkey. By the beginning of the 19th century, most of Dagestan was officially incorporated into the Russian Empire.
At the same time, some of the population did not accept the new order and sought to leave. It’s quite difficult to say how many Avars left their homelands and moved to live in Istanbul. However, today about 55,000 Avars live in Turkey.
Traditions, customs and way of life of the people
The centuries-old history, as well as the Avars’ freedom-loving disposition, allowed them to preserve their own customs and traditions. In many ways, they are similar to the traditions of other Caucasian peoples. But there are some features inherent only to them, concerning, first of all, ethics of behavior.
Respectful treatment of elders is the basic ethical tradition of the Avars. Moreover, the elders still play a dominant role in popular gatherings in making any decision. The more authoritative the elder, the more opportunities he has to make his voice decisive.
In addition, strict observance of etiquette in communication is also among the customs. For example, if Avar men talk among themselves, they observe certain conditions of age qualification. The junior, having greeted the elder, is obliged to retreat two steps and keep this distance throughout the conversation. If a woman communicates with a man, then this distance becomes even greater and reaches two meters.
In all matters relating to communication, Avar traditions are rather chaste, and the representatives of the ethnos themselves are courteous. At the same time, folk traditions do not bypass the holding of various holidays – here the already mentioned chastity and politeness is emphasized by the brightness of the costumes and festive ceremonies.
It is worth visiting the Avar wedding to be sure – this is one of the most colorful shows. Here, traditionally, residents of the entire village gather. During the first day the fun takes place in the house of one of the groom’s friends, and the table should be organized by the guests. Only on the second day the wedding takes place in the house where the groom lives, and in the evening they bring the bride wrapped in a wedding blanket. On the third day, they give presents and eat traditional dishes, including compulsory porridge.
By the way, Avarians have a wedding custom of abduction, they just steal not the bride, but the groom. This is carried out by the newlyweds, so the groom’s friends must keep a close eye on him not to be abducted.
Like other Dagestanis, Avars still adhere to the custom of blood feud. Of course, today this tradition is a thing of the past, but it can still be practiced in distant mountain villages. In the old days, vendetta seized entire childbirth, and the reason could be abduction, murder, as well as desecration of tribal shrines.
At the same time, the Avars are a hospitable people. The guest here is always the main person in the house, and they are always ready for the arrival of even unexpected guests, leaving them with food for lunch or dinner.
Common Caucasian traditions are also manifested in national dress. The most common upper men’s clothing is beshmet, in winter it was insulated with lining. A shirt is worn under a beshmet; a large hat serves as a headdress. As for women’s suits, they are quite diverse.
Avar women wear clothes adorned with local ethnic elements – according to the ornaments, the colors of the headscarf, patterns one can guess from which village the woman is from. At the same time, married and older women prefer clothes of muted shades, but girls can dress up more brightly.
Culture of the dominant nation of Dagestan
The Avars, like other Dagestan peoples, made a great contribution to the culture of the Caucasus and Russia. First of all, it is folk art. Performances of national teams are always a great success with the audience. Very poetic and melodious songs of the Avars. Here, the rich possibilities of the language and the national musical flavor are equally widely used. Therefore, a lot of listeners are always going to listen to how they sing.
No less colorful and national holidays. Each such festival becomes the brightest sight. Here, songs, dances, and bright costumes – everything merges together. It is worth mentioning that the Avars, like other local peoples, know how to entertain themselves and others. They are quite sharp on the tongue and are well aware of the peculiarities of their mentality. Therefore, according to experts, jokes about the Avars are composed by the representatives of this people themselves.
The language, which belongs to the Nakh-Dagestan group of languages of the North Caucasus, is bright, melodious and full of poetic turns. At the same time there are many local dialects. In many ways, this phenomenon reflects the characteristics of the Avar history, when there were free highlander societies.
Nevertheless, even though they live in different parts of the earth, they can always understand each other. There are common language and cultural traditions that are identical for the whole Accident. For example, many are interested in why Avars with special reverence belong to wolves. All because they have a wolf is considered a symbol of courage and nobility. Therefore, the image of the wolf is repeatedly sung in folklore and literature.
A great contribution to the culture of Russia made famous Avar writers. Among them, of course, Rasul Gamzatov is one of the most famous poets of Dagestan. It was he who created a kind of hymn, composed the poem “Song of the Avars”. Since then, this work has become the unofficial anthem of the people. The poet Faze Aliyeva also brought glory to the Avars.
Known and achievements of athletes – first of all, Jamal Azhigirei, master of sports in wushu, 12-time European champion, as well as Habib Nurmagomedova, professional in UFC fights (is the world champion).
Today, Avar’s nationality speaks volumes. This is a proud and independent people, which for many centuries of its development has repeatedly proved that it can fight for its own freedom. Despite the fact that they were once considered warlike, the Avars developed cattle breeding and farming, various crafts. At many national festivals, expositions of traditional carpets, caskets, dishes, and ornaments are created.