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. 

 

Kahib, Dagestan (Eastern Caucasus mountains)

Caucasus mountains Kahib village Dagestan North Caucasus 10

Kahib was built between the 8th and 10th centuries by the Avars. It is located in Shamilsky district of central Dagestan.

The word ” Kahib ” is derived from the Georgian word ” Kahi “, which means scarce highland.

The old and current village are divided by a river valley, which also made the old village hard to access.

Its walls, like many structures of the Caucasus mountains, are adorned with pagan symbolism and solar signs, part of their religion before the conversion to Islam.

 

Caucasus mountains Kahib village Dagestan North Caucasus 3

Caucasus mountains Kahib village Dagestan North Caucasus 1

Caucasus mountains Kahib village Dagestan North Caucasus

Caucasus mountains Kahib village Dagestan North Caucasus 5

tower in Kahib village Dagestan North Caucasus

arched entrance Kahib village Dagestan North Caucasus 14

ancient symbols Kahib village Dagestan North Caucasus 12

medieval art symbols Kahib village Dagestan North Caucasus 21

medieval art symbols Kahib village Dagestan North Caucasus 22

Symbols of the pre-muslim Pagan religion

Kahib village Dagestan North Caucasus 7

Kahib in 1923

Kahib in 1923

 

 

Akhmad Kadyrov museum – Grozny, Chechnya

Akhmad Kadyrov museum is a recently built museum (2010) in the heart of Grozny, Chechnya. It hosts a memorial dedicated to the first president of Chechnya Akhmad Kadyrov (father of current Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov), a war monument honoring Russia’s victory in World War Two (the Great Patriotic War), an exhibition of (relatively new) paintings and other temporary exhibitions.

During the war, all the artistic heritage of Chechnya was destroyed. Museums, universities , cultural centers – all were leveled to the ground by the Russian forces, causing irreparable damage to Chechen national treasure,  cultural heritage and educational system.

 

However, the museum ranks third in Russia when it comes to construction and interior design. Occupying a surface of 14 hectares, it was built with marble imported  from Spain and Iran, and crowned with a half a ton chandelier – which is covered with 20 kg of gold and over 750 light bulbs. In the center of it – an inscription says “Justice will prevail”.

The memorial dedicated to the 1941 Great Patriotic War fought by Soviets against Nazis comes as a contraindication – considering that 3 years later Stalin deported the entire population of Chechnya and Ingushetia to Siberia and Central Asia under the unfounded accusations of Nazi cooperation.

Tir Holy Nativity monastery, Georgia/ South Ossetia

* South Ossetia is a disputed region, officially part of Georgia but under Russian defacto control. More on South Ossetia conflict here *

Tir Holy Nativity monastery is an ancient christian-orthodox settlement built in the XII century, 9 km from Tskhinvali in Georgia/ South Ossetia.

The tower is built in Byzantine style; in the distance one can see the sacred mountain Bursamdzeli.

Georgia has one of the world’s oldest Christian Churches. North Caucasus also has the oldest christian churches in Russia – Lower-Arkhyz churchesShoana temple, Sentinsky temple. New ancient christian settlements are being discovered throughout the Caucasus.