Tusheti, Georgia

Tusheti Georgia village Caucasus mountains

 

 

Tusheti is a historic region in N-E Georgia inhabited by Tush people – who are divided into Chagma-Tush (speaker of local Georgian dialect) and Tsova-Tush or Bats (speakers of Nakh language), cousins of Chechens, Ingush and neighboring Kist.

The Tush people are believed to have appeared in the region around the XVI century after the arrival of Nakh tribes, who have since received Georgian influence and possibly intermixed with local Georgian tribes.

The tower houses, which have a visible resemblance to the ancient Chechen towers, have become a symbol of the Tusheti region.

beautiful scenery Pankisi gorge Georgia North Caucasus mountains

click photo to see the neighboring Pankisi valley

 

Not far from Tusheti region is the Pankisi valley (in Kakheti region) – inhabited by Kists, a different branch of the Nakh people who arrived in the area in the XIX century.

The tush people are shepherds by tradition. Tusheti region has some of the highest peaks in the Caucasus, to count just a few: mount Tebulo (4.490 meters – 14.700 feet), mount Komito (4260 meters – 14.000 feet), mount Dano (4.100 meters – 13.400 feet).

Nakh towers, Chechnya

Historical organization of Chechen society – Chechnya (like Ingushetia) didn’t have social classes or feudalism. It was governed by council of elders and practiced a pagan religion centered around the solar cult.

Chechen Nakh towers Chechnya North Caucasus Vainakh 2

 

Nakh people were organized in “teips” (family clans). Each family clan had their own defensive structure, mostly represented by Nakh towers. The villages and regional subdivisions of today still hold the names of their “teip” (ex. Sharoy, Chatou etc).

In times of danger, the family clans united under a “tukum” (political-military union), lead by a chosen military chief .

The towers had different purposes (combat, residential tower etc) and were around 7 stories high.

The typical Chechen/ Ingush towers (Nakh towers) developed as response to repeated foreign invasions, especially the Mongol invasion of the XII century.

Hacharoy Chechnya tower Chechens North Caucasus Vainakh Nakh

The teip had a few common features:
* The right of communal land tenure
* Common revenge for murder of a teip member
* Exogamy (marrying a member outside the clan was mandatory)
* Election of a Council of Elders and equal right of all members
* The right of the teip to depose its representatives
* Representation of women by male relatives
* The right of the adoption of outside people
* The transfer of property of departed to members of the teips
* The teip has a defined territory and a traditional mountain
* The teip had its own Godhead (pagan beliefs before the adoption of Islam)
* The teip had specific festivities, customs, traditions and habits
* The teip had its own cemetery
* A common teip hospitality (hospitality in general is highly regarded in the Caucasus)

chenty merk Chechen Nakh tower Chechnya North Caucasus mountains

 

Chanty Mohk Chechnya tower Chechens North Caucasus mountains Vainakh Nakh

Here are a few of the Nakh-Chechen towers which survived the XIX century wars, the Soviet destruction and the recent Russian-Chechen conflicts.

During the 1990’s wars, dozens of ancient Chechen towers were attacked by Mi-24. 

 

‘Abode of the deity’ Tsoy-Pede, Chechnya

Tsoy-Pede “Abode of the deity” is a XIV century necropolis located in the historic area Melhista (which means “land of the sun”) in southern  Chechnya. It’s built on a mountain which is surrounded by two rivers; the necropolis has 50 crypts and several towers (some of which were destroyed).

Tsoy-Pede was built before Chechen people’s conversion to Islam, therefore the settlement is adorned with pagan and solar symbols.

The landmark is situated at the border with Georgia and the area is under strict military control. A special permit is needed to visit Tsoy-Pede (as is the case with many of Russia’s landmarks).

Tsoy-Pede is part of the Argun State History, Architecture and Nature Museum Reserve. Argun area was part of intense fighting during the wars, therefore most of its landmarks (which are most numerous in North Caucasus) suffered serious damage.