Circassia Being Part Of Caucasus Mosaic

Circassia Being Part Of Caucasus Mosaic

By: Adel Bashqawi                                                                                                                                                                                                          5 December, 2018

The Northwestern Caucasus is the historic homeland of the Circassians along with other peoples and nations. The broader Caucasus dimensions left its effects and fingerprints on this nation, which was considered in the past and still, one of the largest nations of the Caucasus. There are those who originated from the Caucasus and there are those who flocked for multiple purposes at different times. Eventually the region settled permanently and existed within the extension of the various Caucasus multicultural dimensions. Circassia, throughout history, was nothing but a confirmation of its basic established existence in the Northwest Caucasus.

Pan-Caucasus Concept

Concrete facts have emphasized the imperial premeditated intent to occupy the Circassian  homeland in addition to other nations’ countries of the Caucasus, and consequently to annex the vast majority of them. Ironically, the nation was subjected to great suffering as a result of the fact that its best men and women have sacrificed their lives to defend their homeland against attempts of occupation, oppression and invasion. Ultimately, colonial deliberate purpose was achieved, but was heroically resisted. Circassians were exposed to invasion, to conquer their homeland and consequently exterminate, disperse and deport the vast majority of the people who survived annihilation.

Excavations in the region have proven its roots and identification. The Circassians were part of the true aboriginal inhabitants of the Northwest Caucasus and part of the fundamental ethnocultural developments. They were extensively involved in many ways together with the peoples and nations of the Caucasus. “Hence, reviewing the natural complexes of the historical dwelling territory of the Northwestern and Central Caucasus, i.e. of Circassians in terms of comprehending a number of aspects of this people’s ethnocultural development, is extremely important.” 1 There is interest in the “uniqueness of the traditional culture of the Circassians – traditions of highly- developed environmental protection which defined the distinctiveness of the basic forms of natural management (land using, utilization of hydro resources, forest usage, hunting, etc.).” 2

The legacy of ethnic origins is accompanied by a long tradition of culture and language, which all the signs prove that languages are rooted in the area for thousands of years. “The languages of the Caucasus belong to four families: Caucasian (or Paleocaucasian), Indo-European, Turkic, and Semitic. Whereas speakers of the latter three groups are known to have migrated to the Caucasus in historical times, speakers of the Caucasian languages occupied the area at the dawn of history.” 3

Mentioning some peoples is only for giving examples here, which contain a list that is not exclusive. Some of the peoples who had close contact, coexisted and interrelated with Circassians in their homeland are mentioned as per the following: “The Kipchak Turks are a group of small, but distinct peoples including the Kumyk, Nogay, Karachay, and Balkar. The indigenous Kumyk, like the other Kipchak Turks, are largely Muslim. Their language was for some three centuries the lingua franca of the region, but in the 20th century it was supplanted by Russian. The Nogay are thought to have become a distinct group formed after the disintegration of the Golden Horde. Most were nomads until the early 20th century. Both the Karachay and the Balkar are of unknown origins.” 4

The broader dimensions of the demographic and social characteristics of the Caucasus have affected various features of the Circassians and thus had an impact on the Caucasus peoples’ distinguished character. It is an exceptional symbol that is almost a common element among all the parties of the Caucasus. The facts have demonstrated and proven common experience of long-term colonial ambitions in the Caucasus, which is expressed through dealing with greedy colonial powers over the centuries. Not to mention other elements, such as similar human morphology, ethnic similarity, culture, hopes, aspirations and interests.

For various reasons, the Adygha people were called and described as Charkas or Circassians, whether by the ancient Greeks, Persians, Turks, Russians, Mongols or others. Consequently, their homeland was known as Circassia in attribution to them. Thus, all peoples and nations have lived and belonged to the Caucasus geographical space. The peoples, whom came from Persian, Turkish and Mongolian origins, were able to achieve adaptation and coexistence to the demographic environment in the Northwestern Caucasus and therefore they existed side-by-side with the Adygha (Circassians).


The similarities between Circassian language and the languages of the Caucasus such as the Abkhazian language were not coincidental. Linguistic scholars in this instance, refer to the fact that the two languages have one origin, and they are the closest languages of the Caucasus to each other. “Abkhaz, also called Abkhazian, Abkhaz Apswa, any member of a Caucasian people living chiefly in the Abkhazia republic in northwesternmost Georgia. The Bzyb Abkhaz, who have a distinct dialect, are found around the Bzyb River; the Abzhui Abkhaz, on whose dialect the literary language is based, live near the Kodori River; and the Zamurzakan Abkhaz are found in the southeast. The Abaza people, who speak a similar language, dwell north of the main Caucasus mountain chain around the sources of the Kuban and Zelenchuk rivers in Karachay-Cherkessia, Russia. Abaza and Abkhaz are so similar that many linguists consider them to be dialects of a single language. The traditional economy of the Abkhaz is based on cattle breeding, agriculture, viticulture, and beekeeping.” 5

Tens of languages and nationalities in a region as limited as the Caucasus has necessitated a form of co-existence of all these peoples to a certain extent, which possess unparalleled linguistic and cultural wealth at the global level. However, the image was distorted by external intervention, which operated according to the imperial policy of ‘divide and rule’ in addition to other aggressive policies. “Known as the Mother of Tongues, the Caucasus is home to five language families, three of which are indigenous. In the north, four Altaic languages are spoken: Karachay, Balkar, Noghay, and Kumyk. : These belong to the Kipchak Turkic branch.” 6

The newcomers’ languages and cultures in the Caucasus have also added more value to the linguistics, which became part of the spoken languages and heritage of the region. “A second ancient Indo-European group is the Ossetes, or Ossetians, in the central Greater Caucasus; they are a remnant of the eastern Iranian nomads who roamed the south Western Steppe from the 7th century BC until the 4th century AD (when they were dispelled by the Huns) and who were successively known as Scythians, Sarmatians, and Alans.” 7

After occupying the Caucasus, settlers from Russia have replaced deported and displaced peoples in their homelands. “Slavic groups account for more than one-third of the total population of the Caucasus;” 8


Unfortunately, since their land has been occupied, the Circassians cannot maintain their racial, ethnic and cultural distinctiveness from other nations. They are unable to exercise their natural rights, being kept from maintaining and protecting ethnic, linguistic and cultural harmony and homogeneity in a specific geographical location. It is an imperative concept to establish a plan for preserving cultural heritage in the Caucasus to avoid assimilation. This is not encouraging the concept of divergence, but only emphasizing the importance of preserving their historical origins of racial classification, language and culture. Database shows that “while most ethnic groups used for census data gathering are defined in terms of the languages they speak, several groups are not, most notably the Turkic-speaking Greeks and the mostly Russian-speaking Jews, Germans and Gypsies.” 9

Under the Soviet regime, immense language construction was carried out and the language policy began to shift away from the mother tongue. It is necessary to address the way in which a crack was created in the remaining Circassian demographic structure at homeland. Two languages with different names were fabricated to control the linguistic matters in the region. This has effected the Circassian nation cunningly in order to consecrate the division left by the colonial legacy.

One has to be optimistic, while Circassia and all other nations of the Caucasus will restore their legitimate rights. Hope is eternal, even in the worst situations. “The darkest hour is just before the dawn.” 10 Various circumstances in the past have proven that destinies still conceal boundless surprises. The foreseeable future presages that peoples finally triumph over the forces of injustice, darkness and oppression. The outcome should bring justice and fairness to all within the legal frameworks that respect human rights and the right of peoples to self-determination. Where a “A right delayed is a right denied.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.,11 because “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.” – Nelson Mandela 12

Every nation and consequently every human being must enjoy the rights that no force can deny in anyway. It is necessary to emphasize the fair application of the principles of human justice. They can be referred to, in accordance with the International laws and norms. “International human rights law is founded upon the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which, together with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)13 and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) 14, forms part of the “International Bill of Human Rights.” Human Rights framework outlines the rights, which are supposed to be available for every human being since birth. “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” 15


To conclude, given the available data, the question of preserving all the peoples and nations of the Caucasus remains to be confronted with the flow of currents of exclusion, marginalization and the fusion of the diverse racial elements. With every move they make, the forces who influenced the scene ought to feel dreadful, ashamed and disgusted at the acts of aggression committed during the imperial wars, that led to reap mass extermination, ethnic cleansing and forced deportation. With all adopted efforts, peoples have shown patience in the midst of stubbornness and rights denial due to the fact that the opponent is not yet ready to permit worldly justice. They are either disorientated in a round maze puzzle or adhering to audacity to the extent of arrogance that characterized the colonialists. They disavowed moral obligation towards many peoples and nations who have been stripped of their rights for long.


1 (Adygean {Circassian} Culture, by Nugzar Antelava)

2 (Adygean {Circassian} Culture, by Nugzar Antelava)

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