22 May 2003, 03:15

Abazins

They call themselves Abaza. Nation of the Russian Federation. They live in Karachayevo-Cherkessk Republic and in the east of Adygeya Republic. Their population in Russia according to the census of 1989 is about 33 thousand people; about 10 thousand people live in Turkey and the Arab countries where Abazins moved in the 2nd half of the 19th century. The sub-ethnic groups Tapanta and Shkaraua are distinguished. They belong to the Balkan-Caucasus race of the big European race. They speak the Abazin language of the Abchaz-Adug group of the North Caucasus family. Dialects: Ashkar, Tapant. Russian and Cabardin-Cherkessk languages are also common. Written language is based on Russian alphabet. Religious people are Moslems-sunnits.

The ancestors of the Abazins were the Northern neighbors of the Abkhaz people and most likely were partly assimilated by them as early as the 1st millenium A.D. In the 14th -16th centuries the main part of the Abazins that lived along the Black sea coast south of the river Bzyb moved to the North Caucasus and settled near the Adyg tribes. By the middle of the 19th century the traditional occupations, the way of life and the folk art of the Abazins practically didn?t differ from the culture of the Adyg, Karachayev and Cherkes people. Their main occupations were agriculture (Grain-crops, horticulture, vegetable-growing) and cattle-breeding, including distant-pasturing (cattle, sheep).

The system of cognation is of Arab type.

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