Circassian Royal Guards

In the 19th century, large numbers of Circassians were exiled and deported by Russian empire to the Ottoman Empire after a century old Russian-Circassian War. Others resettled in Turkey, Jordan, Syria.

In most places, Circassians have enjoyed acceptance and respect.

In Jordan in particular, the very capital of the country – Amman, was first settled by Circassians in 1878.  Since then, Circassians have significantly contributed to the development of Jordanian society, which in return granted them the position of personal trusted Royal Guards in the King’s Palace.

Ossetia traditional costumes Ossetian people

Traditional costumes of Ossetian people, whose land is presently divided into North Ossetia-Alania and South Ossetia.

Ossetians are an Iranic people who migrated to the Caucasus region after their kingdom (located on Volga) was destroyed by the Huns in 374; they adapted to the Caucasian culture, which can be seen in their national costume and traditions.

War photographer in Chechnya

Eric Bouvet, war photographer – Chechnya, may 1995

Interview excerpt from The Guardian

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“It was unbearable. Two crazy weeks and the most unbelievable story I ever did. I was with a Russian special commando. They were torturing, killing and raping. I saw them do it, and I couldn’t stop them. Someone of a normal constitution can’t accept that. I was working on the edge.

This is the morning after a night that left four men dead and 10 wounded. It was heavy fighting, and I was very afraid. I discovered a dead Chechen four metres from me when I got up in the night. You see movies, you read books, you can imagine anything. But when you are in front of something, it’s not like the movies. We started out as 60 and came back 30 – one in two people injured or killed. I was lucky.

As soon as it was light, I took pictures. This is the first thing I saw. The guy with the bandage on his head has lost his friends. He has fought all night long. I don’t feel pity, but at the same time they took me with them and did everything to protect me. Without them, I couldn’t have done the story. I was the only witness. It’s very complicated.”

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Russian soldiers Chechnya war chechen rebels fighters terrorists North Caucasus 1

Russian soldiers Chechnya war chechen rebels fighters terrorists North Caucasus

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Chechen men from village rounded up in famous "filtration camps"

 Chechen men from a village rounded up for the infamous “filtration camps”

Chechen hostages, such as this one, are taken, interrogated under torture and then executed by Russian special forces of infiltration and intelligence. Source: worldpressphoto.org

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For two weeks, Eric Bouvet accompanied Russian special forces of infiltration and intelligence on their mission. Using night-glasses to see in the dark, they occupied strategic positions behind enemy. Source: worldpressphoto.org

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Russian soldiers eating Chechnya war chechen rebels fighters terrorists North Caucasus

Chechen civilians victims Russian soldiers Chechnya war chechen rebels fighters terrorists North Caucasus wars

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For more on the filtration camps go here “War crimes” (testimonies from French editor Sophie Shihab, Russian journalist Andrei Babitski and Emma Gilligan’s book “Terror in Chechnya”)

Babitsky’s talks about his detainment at the filtration camp in video below

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 region into different republics  – Adygea, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia. The Soviet authorities also divided the 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.”

wedding-costumes circassia

 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 an 1856 article Horrible Traffic in Circassian Women—Infanticide in Turkey,” New York Daily Times, August 6, 1856

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

Dagestan traditional costumes ~ Dagestani people

Dagestan is the most diverse region in the Caucasus. with 8 different Caucasian natives and other ethnic groups living on its territory. Native Caucasians living in Dagestan belong to the Northeast Caucasian family. The Avars represent the largest ethnic group.

Dagestani youth dance group rehearsing for the Venice 2013 carnival