The Abazinians, by R. Abaza

Caucasian Review, Institute for the Study of the USSR No.8, Munich, 1959, pp.34-40

The Abazinians are aborigines of the Caucasus.[1] In the course of the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries, the forefathers of the contemporary Abazinians migrated to the Northern Caucasus from the Black Sea region, roughly from the area between the Tuapse and the Bzyb rivers.[2] Although a considerable part of the Abazinians migrated, some of them still continued to remain in the Black Sea region until 1864.[3]

Up to the 1860’s, the Abazinians numbered approximately 60,000. At the present time, there are only about 20,000 in the Northern Caucasus living in villages in the Karachai-Circassian Autonomous Oblast, in two villages in the vicinity of Kislovodsk, in a number of settlements in the Kabardino-Balkar ASSR, such as Malka, and also scattered throughout the eastern part of the Adyghei Autonomous Oblast (in Ulskoe, Koshekhabl, and other locations).[4]

The reduction in the number of Abazinians is explained as due to three basic reasons: 1) the amalgamation of the Abazinians or the Adyghe-Kabardinians (Circassians); 2) the decimation of large numbers of Abazinians, together with other Circassians, during the Russo-Caucasian wars; and 3) the mass emigration to Turkey of almost 30,000 Abazinians between 1858-64.[5]

The migration of the Abazinians to the North Caucasian foothills preceded the exit of the Kabardinians to the east of the Kuban basin. Some researchers (such as P. Butkov, N. Debu, Sh. Nogmov, L. Lopatinsky, and the Soviet researcher, L. Lavrov),[6] have attempted to explain this as resulting from armed action of the Abazinians against the Kabardinians, while other authors (such as K. Glavani, S. Bronevsky, L. Lyulye, and A. Berzhe)[7] take the view that this occurred as a result of an agreement between the Abazinians and the Kabardinians. We accept the latter version since the Kabardinians at that time were the most powerful and numerous group which had themselves ousted the Ossetins and the Balkars from the lower territories to the mountains in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. This migration had been especially welcomed by Inal the Great, who had taken as his goal the unification of all the Circassians. In addition to this, Inal the Great was related to the most influential Abazinian prince, Ash, to whose daughter he was married.[8] Thus, Inal had apparently succeeded in concluding an agreement with Prince Ash, whereby the latter was permitted to move all the Abazinians into Circassia to join those who had previously fled there. This played an important role in the unification of the Circassians and Inal placed great hopes on the Abazinians in this struggle.[9]

The struggle of the Circassians, together with the other people of the Northern Caucasus, against the Tsarist government for their freedom and independence is well known. It continued for more than one hundred years during which time the Abazinians took an active part.[10]

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Abazins in the XIX century


Abazin ladies from royal families,
A. Bibarkt (modern Elburgan)

Khimsad's lady and the duke of Loo,
end of XIX century

A Noble Abazin  


Abazin Girl, 1897