The Abazins are the most ancient people of the North Caucasus. Their ancestors, who inhabited the region five thousand years ago, created a written language that served as the basis of the Latin alphabet. The proud and distinctive people defended their territories during the Caucasian War, was defeated, but still has not lost its national identity.
The name of the Abaza people originated from the ancient Abazian tribe that inhabited the Black Sea territories, along with the Alans and Zikhs, at the beginning of the era. The roots of the name go deep into the past, the exact meaning is unknown. One of the versions is related to the expressions “people living near water”, “people of water”. The self-name of a people is similar – abadze, abaza, abadzua. The neighbors called the Abazin Sadzami, Djik, Dzhigetami, Dzhihami. In the Russian sources in relation to the people there is a reference to the exonym “obza”. Abazins were often attributed to the neighboring nations, calling the Circassians, Circassians, and Abkhazians by common names.
Where they live
The historical homeland of the Abazov tribe is the territory of modern Abkhazia. The shortage of cultivable land led to several migratory waves, as a result of which the people moved to the Circassian regions. According to the 2010 census, the number of Abazins in Russia is 43,000. Most of them live compactly in 13 auls located in Karachay-Cherkessia. In total, the region has 37,000 representatives of the nationality, 10,505 people live in the city of Cherkessk. Number of Abazins in other regions of Russia:
- Stavropol Territory – 3,600 people;
- Moscow – 318 people;
- Nalchik – 271 people.
As a result of the Caucasian War, the Abazins had to leave the historical areas of residence. The descendants of the people live in Libya, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Syria, Israel, only about 24,000 people. Assimilation, close proximity to people of other Circassian peoples led to the loss of national customs, but many retained their identity based on historical clans.
The Abaza language belongs to the North Caucasian family, the Abkhaz-Adyge group, is divided into Ashkhara and Tapant dialects. The ancient Abaza-Abkhaz language had a decisive influence on the formation of the Latin, which became the basis of modern writing in many countries. A study of the famous Maykop inscription showed that the inscriptions were made by an Ashui letter. Five thousand years ago, the ancestors of the Abkhazians and the Abazins created the powerful state of Ashuyu, which occupied vast territories from Maikop to the Black Sea, leaving the borders of the Kuban and Rion. The Ashui letter that existed in the state in the second millennium penetrated the capital of Phenicia, serving as the basis for the origin of Phoenician writing. It, in turn, formed the basis of the Latin alphabet, spread throughout the world.
The Abazin ancestors belong to the most ancient Proto-Abkhaz tribes inhabiting the territories of modern Georgia, Abkhazia, and the Black Sea coast of the Krasnodar Territory from Tuapse to Sukhumi. After the collapse of the mighty Ashui state, the tribes began to form separate principalities. The first mention of the country Abaza refers to the II.
Abazins belong to the Caucasus race, Pyatigorsk mix, combining the features of the Pontic and Caucasus anthropological types. It includes Circassians, Ingush, Kabardians, Ossetians. Distinctive features of appearance:
- medium height;
- slim, lean figure;
- narrow face;
- high bridge;
- long nose, often with a crook;
- black hair;
- gray, blue, brown, black narrowed eyes.
The slim girl with a narrow waist and small breasts was considered the standard of beauty of the people: a corset helped to achieve ideal parameters and a good posture. Abazas girls from the age of 12 began to wear this piece of toilet made of thick fabric with wooden, metal inserts. Hairstyle was followed: luxurious long hair was honored.
Abazin national costume has common features with the outfits of other Caucasian peoples. The men’s undergarments were loose pants, reaching to the waist of a shirt with a high collar, buttoned up alongside buttons. Over wore beshmet with stand-up collar, side and chest pockets, long sleeves, narrowed at the wrist. The final element of the attire was the traditional Caucasian Circassian: a shoulder caftan with long flared sleeves, a triangular neckline on the chest. In a cut, the Circassian is fitted, widening towards the bottom. Festive attire fell 10-15 cm below the knees, everyday clothes reached the middle of the thigh. The poor people wore dark-colored clothes, the noble Abazins preferred white and red colors. On both sides of the chest were stitched longitudinal stitches for pockets of gazyri, where they kept bullets and gunpowder. Obligatory element – a belt on which the knife was fastened, a dagger. Women’s costume consisted of a long-sleeve undershirt. Over the top they put on the bottom dress, fitting at the top and widening from the waist. On holidays, the outfit was complemented by a swinging dress made of velvet or brocade, on the chest, back, along the entire length and the hem of the richly decorated gold embroidery. Abazas loved jewelery: rings, rings, bows, volumetric earrings, bracelets, silver belts. The hairstyle not only served as an ornament, but helped to determine the age and social status of the woman. The girls braided their hair in two braids, their heads were covered with a light silk scarf. Adult girls on the rye wore hats with a pointed or rounded top, wearing shawls on top, the ends of which were tossed around the neck. The woman took off her hat only after the birth of the child, replacing it with a deaf shawl that completely covered her hair.
The patriarchal structure reigned among the Abazians: the head of the clan was the eldest man in the house, the older woman was in charge of the economic affairs. Weddings were arranged by collusion, including luluchnymi marriages, and there was a less common rite of snitch. After the wedding, the girl went into her husband’s house, observing a number of rules:
- Do not visit their relatives for at least a year after the wedding.
- Avoid mothers-in-law. The bride did not have the right to talk with her husband’s parents, to be alone with them, to look at them, to eat at the same table, to sit in their presence. The avoidance of the mother-in-law ended in a period from a week to several months;
- Spouses did not name each other by name, used nicknames or pronouns. For a man, it was considered shameful to say something about his wife in the presence of others. When the situation demanded it, he used the words “my wife,” “the mother of my children,” “the daughter of that.”
- In the daytime spouses can not be in the same room alone.
- Men were forbidden to publicly show feelings towards children, to call them by name.
Atalicheism was practiced in rich families. Children were brought up for education in equal status or less notable families within the clan, sometimes to neighboring nations to strengthen interethnic relations. The child was in a strange family from several months to several years, sometimes up to the age of majority.
Until the XIX century, the Abazins lived in wicker houses of circular shape, single or multi-room stone houses. In the center of the main room was the hearth, there was a dining area, the berths of the owners of the house. Later wooden houses were erected, erected in the center of a spacious manor. A house for guests was built on its territory – Kunatskaya. The traditions of hospitality obliged the people to receive guests with honors, share shelter, prepare the best dishes. The owner of the house, who took responsibility for their safety, life and health, walked the way home from the road of travelers to Kunatskaya.
Traditional Abazin classes – cattle breeding, agriculture, gardening, beekeeping. Sheep were bred, horses, poultry, planted millet, barley, corn. Garden gardens were planted near the house, and gardens were planted with cherry plum, pear, plum, cornel, barberry, and hazelnuts. Women were engaged in the manufacture of leather, weaving, embroidery. Men worked wood and metal, were considered skilled jewelers, gunsmiths.
In antiquity, the Abazins believed in the forces of nature and patron spirits, revered bizarre-shaped rocks and sacred trees. The patron saint of the universe was considered the main deity Anchva, the land was inhabited by good and evil spirits that could harm or help. The people had patrons of water, rain, forests, wild animals, bees, livestock, weaving crafts. The infantile death was attributed to the evil witch in the female appearance, and the devils were driven to the insanity of the people. According to biblical traditions, at the beginning of the first century, the Apostle Andrew the First-Called preached Abazin in the region of residence: until the XV-XVII centuries, the people professed Christianity. Influenced by the Khanate and Porta, Islam has penetrated into the region; today, most of the Abazians practice Sunni Islam.
The basis of the Abazin diet was lamb, beef, poultry (chicken and turkey), dairy and meat products, cereals. Traditional daily turkey meat dish – ktu dzyrdza (kwIuzhdzyrdza), the secret of which is a savory spicy gravy. The cuisine is distinguished by its rich use of spices: hot pepper, salt with garlic, thyme, dill: no Abaza dish can do without them.