“… The brothers’ mother, Zubeidat, is an ethnic Avar, the predominant ethnic group in Dagestan, their father told The Wall Street Journal. Dagestan itself is inhabited by dozens of ethnicities and is home to mushrooming Salafist groups preaching the implementation of Sharia law in the republic.
“Having an Avar for a mother makes the brothers only half Chechen, but the fact that Dzhokhar and Tamerlan are still being labeled as fully Chechen in the international media only highlights how difficult it can be to get through the ethnic complexity of the North Caucasus. …”
“With its mountainous terrain making travel and communication difficult, Daghestan is still largely tribal and, unlike in most other parts of Russia, the population (2,576,531 in 2002) is rapidly growing. Despite over a century of Tsarist control followed by seventy years of repressive Soviet rule, there are still 32 distinct ethnic groups, each with its own language, and Avar is the most widely spoken with about 700,000 speakers. With so many indigenous ethnic groups, Daghestan is unquestionably the most complex of the Caucasian republics.
“In the lowlands can be found Turkic nomads: Kumyks, Noghays, and a few displaced Turkomans. In the northern highlands are the Avars, the Andis, Karatas, Chamalals, Bagwalals, Akhwakhs, Botlikhs, Godoberis, and Tindis. Still in the high valleys but going south toward the Georgian border are the Tsez (Dido), Gionukhs, Hunzibs, Khwarshis, and Bezhitas (Kapuchis). South of the Avar are the Laks, Dargwas, Kubachis, and Khaidaqs, all forming a related group of peoples. In one high village, standing apart from them, are the Archies, whose links lie further south with the so-called Lezgian peoples: the Aghuls, Tabasarans, and Rutuls. A few of the Lezgis and most of the Tsakhurs spill over into Azerbaijan in the south. Other Daghesantis who are restricted to northern Azerbaijan are the Kryz in one mountain village and three coastal ones, Buduks (one mountain village), Udis (two mountain villages), and Khinalugs (one mountain village). There is also a group called ‘Mountain Jews’ (Givrij or Dagchifut) who speak an Iranian language in Daghestan. They are sometimes called ‘Tats,’ but are not to be confused with the Muslim Tats further south on the Aspheron peninsula of Azerbaijan. In addition there are a few Daghestani Cossacks who are strongly assimilaed to indigenous patterns.
“Colarusso (1997) who compiled the above list, stresses that all thirty-two
“‘are distinct peoples, however small they may be, with their own languages, customs, costumes, arts, and architectures. Many are further subdivided by tribes, clans, and bloodlines. Conversely, most will traditionally form larger units for self-defence when threatened. This is particularly true of the smaller peoples of Daghestan. In ethnographic, social, and political terms the Caucasus is like a minature continent.’
“To give some idea of the problems caused by the linguistic mix, despite the fact that Dargi and Avar are spoken by people living side by side with each other they are in fact mutually incomprehensible languages (see Chenciner et al, 1997, p.9). Multilingualism is therefore virtually universal. Nearly everyone speaks Russian in addition to their own language, and many have some command of several neighbouring languages too….
“Most of the ethnic groups ‘are subdivided into *tukhums*, or extended family clans, which traditionally did not intermarry and often fought long blood feuds. The *tukhum* managed the village affairs and laws. Today, the *tukhum* still functions as a unit, but to greatly varying degrees among different ethnic groups of the mountain land…. In the villages of Daghestan, the clans have their own tea houses in which their members gather.”
i did, however, find out what village and region in chechnya the father’s family is originally from:
“…their native village of Chiri-Yurt in Chechnya….”
“In 1944, after the deportation of the Chechens and Ingush, and the elimination of the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic village of Chiri-Yurt was renamed Nadreche and populated by immigrants from neighboring Dagestan. After the restoration of the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, locality returned the former name of Chiri-Yurt.”
so … wait. does that mean that the chiri-yurtians (and, therefore, the tsarnaevs) are actually dagestanis and not chechens? i’m so confused….
also, an interesting tidbit from that haaretz article. recall that the tsarnaevs had been refugees in tokmok, kyrgyzstan:
“In Tokmok, the Tsarnaev clan alone inhabited a whole street before most of them moved back to their native village of Chiri-Yurt in Chechnya in the 1960s, residents said.”
finally, some neat towers from chechnya! these aren’t tower houses built to protect clans during blood feuds. instead these are a part of some larger fortress (built 800-900 years ago? in the 800-900s?) guarding the argun gorge which is near chiri-yurt. i thought they were cool!:
previously: those clannish chechens
(note: comments do not require an email. avarian wolf symbol. woof!)