Circassian


Circassian
/seuhr kash"euhn, -ee euhn/, n.
1. a native or inhabitant of Circassia.
2. a group of North Caucasian languages, including Kabardian.
3. a literary language based on the western dialects of the Circassian group.
adj.
4. of or pertaining to Circassia, its inhabitants, often with respect to their legendary beauty, or their language.
[1545-55; < ML or NL Circassi(a) + -AN]

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people
Russian  Cherkes, or Cherkess,  plural  Cherkesy,  

      member of a Caucasian people speaking a northwest Caucasian language (see Kabardian language).

      From ancient times Circassia, comprising roughly the northwestern region of the Caucasus, acquired the exotic reputation common to lands occupying a crucial area between rival empires. The early history of the Circassian peoples is fairly obscure. Though no Greek colonies were established in Circassia proper, the Greeks are known to have established colonies and carried out extensive trade on the Circassian coast of the Black Sea, and their influence is clear. The successive influence or outright control of the Romans, Khazars, Mongols, Crimean Tatars, Turks, and Russians was to follow.

      The area remained fairly autonomous until the 12th and 13th centuries, when Georgian princes succeeded in reducing it to the condition of a province. In 1234 the Caucasus region was overrun by Mongol hordes, and the region soon passed under the rule of the Crimean Tatars. During the mid-16th century and again (on several occasions) in the 17th century, the Caucasian rulers were constrained to ask for Russian help against Persian and Turkish invasions. The Russians themselves seemed little interested in subjugating the region until the rule of Peter I the Great; by 1785 the northern Caucasus had been designated a Russian province. In the great territorial wars that ensued between Russia, Persia, and Turkey, the Caucasus region was hotly contested. The Circassians carried out a notably fierce and protracted resistance to Russian domination, and when they were finally defeated in 1864, some 400,000 among them—almost the entire population—chose to emigrate rather than to live in subjection.

      Of the two main groups of Circassians, the Adyghians (Circassians proper, or Lower Circassians), who numbered about 165,000 in the late 20th century, live mostly in the republics of Adygea and Karachay-Cherkessia in Russia. The Kabardians (or Upper Circassians) number about 345,000 and live mostly in the republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, Russia. Circassian communities also exist in Anatolian Turkey (150,000) and Syria (35,000), with smaller groups in Jordan, Iraq, and Iran.

      Many Circassians live in the plain immediately to the north of the Caucasus, others live in the mountain piedmont, and a few live in the upland and mountainous regions. Their traditional economy is based on mixed pastoralism and farming, supplemented by fruit growing. In their traditional social organization, princes and nobles controlled the herds and soil. The mass of people were organized in a complex system of subordinate ranks. Slavery was maintained until recent times, and women occupied a low position in Circassian society.

      Officially the Circassians are Sunnīte Muslims. Ancient cults associated with thunder, fertility rites, and sacred groves, however, were reported in modern times.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Circassian — Cir*cas sian, a. Of or pertaining to Circassia, in Asia. n. A native or inhabitant of Circassia. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Circassian — [ser kash′ən, sər kash′ē ən] n. 1. a member of a group of Caucasian peoples of Circassia 2. a person living in Circassia 3. the North Caucasian language spoken in Circassia adj. of Circassia or its people, language, or culture …   English World dictionary

  • Circassian — The term Circassian may refer to: Pertaining to Circassia, a formerly independent mountainous country located in the Caucasus region of Eurasia Circassian Coast, on the Black Sea Circassians or Adyghe people, a term used to designate various… …   Wikipedia

  • Circassian — noun Etymology: Circassia, region of the Caucasus Date: 1555 1. a member of a group of peoples of the northwestern Caucasus 2. the language of the Circassian peoples • Circassian adjective …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Circassian — 1. noun a) A North Caucasian language spoken in Adygea (also called Adyghe or West Circassian) or Kabardino Balkaria and Karachay Cherkessia (also called Kabardian or East Circassian), Russia. b) …   Wiktionary

  • Circassian — n. native or resident of Circassia (region in southern Russia) adj. pertaining to the people of Circassia (region in southern Russia); of the Circassian family of Caucasian languages n. family of Caucasian languages …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Circassian — noun 1. a member of the Sunni Muslim people living in northwestern Caucasia • Hypernyms: ↑White, ↑White person, ↑Caucasian • Hyponyms: ↑Abkhaz, ↑Abkhazian, ↑Abkhas, ↑Abkhasian …   Useful english dictionary

  • Circassian — [sə: kasɪən] noun 1》 a member of a group of mainly Sunni Muslim peoples of the NW Caucasus. 2》 either of two North Caucasian languages of the Circassians, Adyghe and Kabardian. adjective relating to the Circassians. Origin from Circassia,… …   English new terms dictionary

  • circassian — cir·cas·sian …   English syllables

  • Circassian — Cir•cas•sian [[t]sərˈkæʃ ən, i ən[/t]] n. 1) peo a member of a group of peoples of the Kuban River basin and NE Caucasus in the Russian Federation 2) peo either or both of the two Caucasian languages spoken by the Circassians 3) peo of or… …   From formal English to slang


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