Home » Culture » Adyghe people traditional costume (Circassian men, women)

Adyghe people traditional costume (Circassian men, women)

adyghe traditional costume men Kabardino-Balkaria Karachay-Cherkessia

Adyghe people (Circassians) are people of the historical  Circassia. In the XXth century, the Soviet authorities divided the historic region into different republics  – Adygea, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia. The Soviet authorities also divided the unitary Circassian ethnicity into different categories: Kabardins (Kabardino-Balkaria), Cherkess (Karachay-Cherkessia), Adyghe (Adygea republic).

A significant part of the Adyghe population was killed during the Russian-Circassian war, and other Circassians were displaced to the Middle-East following forced migration.

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Below is a rare first-hand outlook on the Circassians, as seen by a British traveler in the 1830’s (before the expulsion of Circassians from the Caucasus).

Click on link Tales of travellers; A view of the world (published in 1838)

Extract

“The Circassians, who dwell in the mountain valleys, are a martial people, trained from infancy in the midst of arms and early habituated to systematic plunder, their exploits in which confer renown. The sole pursuit of the Circassians is predatory war against their neighbors: hence their courage, though individually unquenchable, and formidable in masses, is undisciplined. 

The warlike qualities are kept alive, moreover, by the incidents attending the political division of Circassians into distinct tribes, jealous of, and often at variance with, each other, which produces feuds, inroads, reprisals, all of which are esteemed honorable. Slaves are one of the principal objects of their barter-trade with the Turks. […]

The nation is now considered to consist of 10 principal states or tribes, compromising a population of about 2 millions. These tribes, though not bound by any federal policy, but existing in a state of mutual repulsion, sacrifice all feuds and jealousies, and unite as in one common cause, when the independence of their country is threatened from without.”

The “warlike quality” and the deadly feuds between tribes were a common feature of Caucasus population, being also found among Chechens, Ingush, Georgians etc.

Chechens and Ingush had their unique solid Nakh towers, which were built specifically  as a refuge not only from invaders, but also from their fellow tribesmen during their deadly feuds.

wedding-costumes circassia

Rural slavery was common among Circassians. After the Russian expulsion, Circassian women were sold as sex slaves by Circassian men to the Ottoman empire, when the term of “Circassian beauties” was born.

Read more on the subject in a rare 1856 article Horrible Traffic in Circassian Women—Infanticide in Turkey,” New York Daily Times, August 6, 1856

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karachay-cherkassia-russia-c-1890-circassian-women-men-traditional-costume-dress-clothing

Circassians in 1890

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Circassians in 1908

Costumes were made of fabrics woolen and animal skin. More sophisticated fabrics appeared after year 1900.

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