Circassia – The Land of Myths

[feature_headline type=”center” level=”h1″ looks_like=”h2″ icon=”tree”]Circassia – the Land of Myths[/feature_headline]
[columnize]Modern endonyms
Abkhaz: Кавказ Kawkáz
Adyghe: КъавкъазХэку Qawqaz
Arabic: القوقاز‎ al-Qawqāz
Armenian: Կովկաս Kovkas
Avar: Кавказ – كافكاز Kawkaz
Azerbaijani: Qafqaz
Chechen: Кавказ Kawkáz
Georgian: კავკასია K’avk’asia
Greek: Καύκασος Kávkasos
Hebrew: קווקז‎ Kavkaz
Ingush: Кавказ Kawkaz
Kabardian: Къавкъаз Qawqaz
Karachay-Balkar: Кавказ Kawkaz
Lezgian: Къавкъаз K’awk’az
Lak: Ккавкказ Kkawkkaz
Ossetian: Кавказ Kavkaz
Persian: قفقاز‎ Qafqaz
Russian: Кавказ Kavkaz
Turkish: KafkasKafkasya

[/columnize][columnize]Modern endonyms
Abkhaz: Кавказ Kawkáz
Adyghe: КъавкъазХэку Qawqaz
Arabic: القوقاز‎ al-Qawqāz
Armenian: Կովկաս Kovkas
Avar: Кавказ – كافكاز Kawkaz
Azerbaijani: Qafqaz
Chechen: Кавказ Kawkáz
Georgian: კავკასია K’avk’asia
Greek: Καύκασος Kávkasos
Hebrew: קווקז‎ Kavkaz
Ingush: Кавказ Kawkaz
Kabardian: Къавкъаз Qawqaz
Karachay-Balkar: Кавказ Kawkaz
Lezgian: Къавкъаз K’awk’az
Lak: Ккавкказ Kkawkkaz
Ossetian: Кавказ Kavkaz
Persian: قفقاز‎ Qafqaz
Russian: Кавказ Kavkaz
Turkish: KafkasKafkasya

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The Circassians originated in the northwestern quarter of the Caucasus, bounded on the north by the Kuban river.

They practiced a mixed economy. Those in the higher vallies and montane forests practiced small scale agriculture and hunting, and often preserved old Christian or pagan customs. Those in the foothills and plains practiced horse-breeding, farming and trade, and usualy espoused Sunni Islam, though in their towns Christian and Jewish Circassians could be found. The Circassians were famed throughout the Middle East for the beauty of their women and the courage of their men.

Physically most Circassians are European in appearance,  or rather it could be said that Europeans are in appearance, with perhaps a slight oriental cast to their features. Many Circassians are blond and blue-eyed, while others show a common feature of the Caucasus: very light skin coupled with black or extremely dark hair. A lithe and erect physique were favored, both for the men and the woman, and many villages even today have large numbers of healthy elderly people, many over a hundred years of age.

Their culture was and still is strongly dominated by a warrior ethic. The battle garb of the men, the Cherkesska, is a fitted caftan-like coat with cartridges sewn across the chest, a sheepskin hat and soft-soled knee-high boots of fine leather. It has been borrowed by many neighboring peoples, most notably the slavic Cossacks, so that this costume is often thought of as being Russian. Until recently the eight tribes into which they were divided showed varying degrees of a caste system similar to that surviving in modern India.

There were priest-kings, nobles who formed the warriors, freemen who carried on trade, large scale farming and manufacture, and lastly peasants, former prisoners of war who were either small farmers or who acted as retainers to the princes and nobles.

In 1864, five years after their defeat at the hands of the Tsarist armies, their land annexed, most of the freemen and peasants were forcefully emigrated (or exiled), and settled in the Ottoman Empire. Thus today the majority of the world’s one million or so Circassians now live scattered throughout the Middle East and in cities in Europe and the U. S. A.