random notes: 04/22/13

the tsarnaev brothers’ mother is an avar from dagestan, not a chechen (their father is chechen [or is he? see below]):

“Hunt for Boston Clues Reveals Tanged Caucasus Web”

“… 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. …”

not that knowing that someone is an avar makes anything clearer, since there are over a dozen (13? 15?) sub-ethnic groups amongst the avar of dagestan (no, i don’t understand any of it either!).

see also: Boston Marathon Bombings: Turn to Religion Split Bomb Suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s Home
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the avars (and other peoples of dagestan) are clannish, too — from Shamanic Journeys Through Daghestan [pgs. 1-3]:

“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.”

sounds familiar.
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i tried to find out which teip (clan) [tайп] the tsarnaev family belongs to, but didn’t have any luck. not being able to read either russian or chechen didn’t make the project any easier!

i did, however, find out what village and region in chechnya the father’s family is originally from:

“Boston accusations shock brothers’ Kyrgyz hometown”

“…their native village of Chiri-Yurt in Chechnya….”

here is chiri-yurt [Чири-Юрт], which is in the shalinsky district of the chechen republic. according to the russian wikipedia page for chiri-yurt [google translation]:

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.[8] 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.”
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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!:

Башни_в_Чечне
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previously: those clannish chechens

(note: comments do not require an email. avarian wolf symbol. woof!)

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7 Comments

  1. Explain to me why the Anglosphere is interested in the peoples of the world again? Dagestan is the population of northern New England in which every county is at war with the others, and has been for generations.

    Do they have a special spicy soup we should prize? (Borat reference) Vast stores of molybdenum we need? What’s in it for us here?

    Reply

  2. @avi – “Vast stores of molybdenum we need? What’s in it for us here?”

    a chechen stamp from 2009 has an oil rig on it … and dagestan is right next door. and they’re both next door to azerbaijan. plus it must just bother the heck out of the russians that we … interfere … with these peoples on their doorstep.

    Reply

  3. so … wait. does that mean that the chiri-yurtians (and, therefore, the tsarnaevs) are actually dagestanis and not chechens? i’m so confused….

    Quite possibly. A few minutes of searching revealed a comment (not in an Encyclopedia or anything like that but in a Dagestani forum – so it’s not completely reliable) that the inhabitants of Chiri-Yurt belong to the Nogais. But don’t quote me on this, obviously.

    Reply

  4. @anatoly – “the inhabitants of Chiri-Yurt belong to the Nogais.”

    huh! thanks. wonder if that’s true? doesn’t really matter, i suppose. most of the caucasus populations seem to be rebellious sorts.

    Reply

  5. @Assistant Village Idiot

    Do they have … Vast stores of molybdenum we need? What’s in it for us here?

    Don’t really know there’s any molybdenum but (from Wiki):

    “The Chechen Republic (pron.: /ˈtʃɛtʃɨn/; Russian: Чече́нская Респу́блика, Chechenskaya Respublika; Chechen: Нохчийн Республика, Noxçiyn Respublika), commonly referred to as Chechnya (/ˈtʃɛtʃniə/; Russian: Чечня́, Chechnya; Chechen: Нохчийчоь, Noxçiyçö), also spelled Chechnia or Chechenia, sometimes referred to as Ichkeria (English: Land of Minerals),…”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chechnya

    Reply

  6. @hbd chick

    *Sidenote – much has been curiously speculated on Israel’s “alliance” with Azerbaijan last year with “most” analyst’s thinking tending towards the idea the alliance has most to do with IDAF planes having a place to refuel after an attack on [guess which nation] but there may be another reason altogether.

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-07/afot-mg-072412.php

    I’m aware of another *study* on the subject but can’t (readily) link to it.

    Reply

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