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Avar people (Caucasus)

Avar people (Caucasus)
This article is about the North Caucasian Avars. For the medieval Turkic-speaking Avars, see Eurasian Avars.
Portrait of a woman wearing festive Dagestani national clothing, by H. Mussayassul (artist and political emigrant), 1939
Total population
approx. 1 million
Regions with significant populations
Dagestan: 850,011
Sunni Islam
Related ethnic groups
Northeast Caucasian peoples
The Caucasian Avars (Avar: , I, avaral (avars), maharulal (mountainers)) constitute a Caucasian
native ethnic group, the most predominant of several ethnic groups living in the Russian republic of Dagestan. The
Avars reside in a region known as the North Caucasus between the Black and Caspian Seas. Alongside other ethnic
groups in the North Caucasus region, the Caucasian Avars live in ancient villages located approximately 2,000 m
above sea level. The Avar language spoken by the Caucasian Avars belongs to the family of Northeast Caucasian
languages and is also known as NakhDagestanian.
Avar people (Caucasus)
The earliest mention of the Avars in European history is by Priscus, who declared in 463 AD that a mixed Saragur,
Urog and Unogur embassy asked Byzantium for an alliance, having been dislodged by Sabirs in 461 due to the
Avars' drive towards the west.
Around 630, Theophylact Simocatta wrote that the Avars had been initially
composed of two nations, the Uar and the Hunnoi tribes. He wrote that: "...the Barsilt, the Onogurs/Unogurs and the
Sabirs were struck with horror... and honoured the newcomers with brilliant gifts..." when the Avars first arrived in
the Caucasus in 555 AD.
The Caucasian Avars migrated to their present location from Khurasan, which was
originally populated by the Alarodian Hurrians from Subartu (to the south of Transcaucasian Iberia).
Y-Chromosomal J Haplogroups typical of Avar men are still common today in the area of ancient Subartu. The Avar
invasion of the Caucasus resulted in the establishment of an Avar ruling dynasty in Sarir, a Christian state in the
Dagestani Highlands, where the Caucasian Avars now live. It is not clear whether or in what way these Avars are
related to the early "Pseudo-Avars" of the Dark Ages, but it is known that with the mediation of Sarosios in 567, the
Gktrks requested Byzantium to distinguish the Avars of Pannonia as "Pseudo-Avars" as opposed to the true Avars
of the east, who had come under Gktrk hegemony.
The modern Arab Encyclopaedia states that the Magyars
originated in this area.
Old Avarian popular symbols appearing on stone and
During the Khazar wars against the Caliphate in the 7th century,
the Avars sided with Khazaria. Surakat is mentioned as their
Khagan around 729-30 AD, followed by Andunik-Nutsal at the
time of Abu Muslima, then Dugry-Nutsal. Sarir suffered a partial
eclipse after the Arabs gained the upper hand, but managed to
reassert its influence in the region in the 9th century. It confronted
the weakened Khazars and conducted a friendly policy towards the
neighbouring Christian states of Georgia and Alania.
In the early 12th century, Sarir disintegrated, to be succeeded by
the Avar Khanate, a predominantly Muslim polity.
The only
extant monument of Sarir architecture is a 10th-century church at
the village of Datuna. The Mongol invasions seem not to have
affected the Avar territory, and the alliance with the Golden Horde
enabled the Avar khans to increase their prosperity.
In the 15th century the Horde declined, and the Shamkhalate of
Kazi-Kumukh rose to power. The Avars could not compete with it and were incorporated by them. From the 16th
century onwards, the Persians and Ottomans started consolidating their authority over the entire Caucasus. Eastern
Georgia, Dagestan, nowadays Azerbaijan and Armenia would retain under Persian suzerainty, while Western
Georgia and Abkhazia would remain under Turkish rule. Although occasionally briefly occupied by the Ottoman
Turks, Dagestan and many of its Avar inhabitants stayed under intermittent Persian suzerainty for many centuries
since their conquering in the 16th century. However, many ethnic groups in Dagestan, including many Avars,
retained relatively high amounts of freedom and self rule. After losing the Caucasus briefly in the late 17th century,
the Persians reeatablished full control over the Caucasus again in the early 18th century under Nadir Shah. During
that same time, the Avars increased their prestige by routing an army of Nadir Shah at Andalal. In the wake of this
triumph, Umma Khan of the Avars (who reigned 17741801) managed to exact tribute from most states of the
Caucasus, including Shirvan and Georgia.
Two years after Umma Khan's death in 1801, the khanate voluntarily submitted to Russian authority, following the
Russian annexation of Georgia and the treaty of Georgievsk. The Russian administration disappointed and
embittered the freedom-loving highlanders. The Russians' institution of heavy taxation, coupled with the
expropriation of estates and the construction of fortresses, electrified the Avar population into rising under the aegis
Avar people (Caucasus)
of the Muslim Imamate of Dagestan, led by Ghazi Mohammed (182832), Gamzat-bek (183234) and Shamil
This Caucasian War raged until 1864, when the Avarian Khanate was abolished and the Avarian District was
instituted instead. One portion of the Avars refused to collaborate with Russians and migrated to Turkey, where their
descendants live to this day. Although the population was decimated through war and emigration, the Avars retained
their position as the dominant ethnic group in Dagestan during the Soviet period. After World War II, many Avars
left the barren highlands for the fertile plains closer to the shores of the Caspian Sea.
The Avars are a Northern Caucasian people who speak Avar, a Caucasian language. The tribe is of an unknown
They were formerly known as the Turanian nomad people, which classified them as "Pseudo-Avars" in the
opinion of the Turkish qaganate (Gktrks) in Europe.
The Avars inhabit most of the mountainous part of Dagestan as well as portions of the plains (Buynaksk,
Khasav'yurt, Kizil'yurt and other regions). They also live in Chechnya, Kalmykia and other regions of the Russian
state, as well as in Azerbaijan (mainly in the Balakan and Zakatala rayons, with a population of 50,900 in 1999
and 49,800 in 2009) and Georgia (Kvareli Avars with 1,996 people in 2002).
In 2002, the Avars, who have assimilated with ethnic groups speaking related languages, numbered about 1.04
million, of which 912,020 live in Russia (2010 census). Of those living in Russia, 850,011 are in Dagestan (2010
census), 32% of them in cities (2002). Wikipedia:Citation needed
Symbol of the Avarian Khanate
Avarian wolf symbol in the Atlas of
Georgia. XVIII
In Turkey, the population census figures for the North Caucasian population are
not given as they are considered as "ethnic Turks". According to Ataev B.M.,
according to A.M. Magomeddadaev's research, the Avarian population there
should have been around 53,000 in 2005.
The Avars call themselves
"Awaral" (also "Ma'arulal").
Ethnic subgroups
Avar is a collective term, Avar-Andi-Dido (Tsez) peoples, that is often used to
describe probably more than fifteen distinct ethnic groups living in the foothills
of the mountain slopes Russia's Dagestan Republic. They are often classified
into the following subgroups:
Avar people (Caucasus)
Old gravestone in Avaria. Sekh,
Ghunib Rayon
Avars as Highlanders and armed people
"I" Ma'arulal means "inhabitants of the top grounds, mountaineers", but another group of Avars is
described as belonging to another category, "" X'indalal (with a soft ""), namely, "inhabitants of plains
(warm valleys) and gardeners".
The name Avars has a narrower meaning for Avars, especially a national one
connected with former statehood. "Avar" is a significant part of the word "Avaria" for the Khunzakh Khanate that
formed approximately in the 12th century after the disintegration of the local Srir ("The Throne") empire. From the
middle of the 19th century this territory was the Avarian District of the Daghestanian area. Now it is Khunzakhsky
District (unza in a literary Avar language or wnzaa in a local dialect) of Dagestan.
The modern literary language of Avars (Awar mac'), both in olden times and today, is known among Avars as the
language of "bo" (bolmac'). The Avarian word "bo" "army, armed people", according to reconstructions, was
originally *ar
in the proto-Avarian language ("" is here a glottal stop).
Avar people (Caucasus)
Name "Avars" in connection with a problem of Avars "extrieur"
At the same time, in modern Avarian there are three words retaining their ancient basis of "awar": awarag "the
envoy, prophet, messiah", awara "obstacle, opposition"
(awara habize is "to make an obstacle, to resist") and
awari "pommel of a saddle".
There is also an Avarian river - "Awar r" (in Avarian) and "Avar koysu" in
Avarian River
All three listed words are to be found in ancient lexicons of the Iranian
languages: Parthian "apar" Pahlavi/Middle-Pers. abar/aar = "up, on, over"
and "higher, superior" (also abraz "acclivity"); abarag/aarag "superior",
abargar/aargar "god, divinity", abarmanig/aarmanig "noble";
amatan "to surpass", apar kardan/apar handatan "to attack".
At the same time, according to the morphology and grammatic rules of the
Middle-Persian language, Aarag "superior" can also be translated as
"Aarian", "Khurasanian", "Parthian" as seen, for example, in a
Middle-Persian word, Eranag - "Iranian".
The term "Avar" was known in the 10th century. According to Persian author
Ibn Rustah a so-called governor of Sarir, the first authentic mention of a
population of Daghestanian Highlanders under the name "Avars" belongs to
Yohann de Galonifontibus, who wrote in 1404 that in the Caucasus there live
"Circassians, Leks, Yasses, Alans, Avars, Kazikumukhs".
"According to
V.Minorsky, in Zafer, (written in 1424), Daghestanian Avars are called the
Auhar. Abbas Kuli-Aga-Bakikhanov in his book Gulistan-i Iram (1841) based
on the chronicle "Derbend-name" wrote that the "inhabitants of vicinities of
Agran have been moved here from Khurasan. A residence of this emir also was Agran".
The editor of this book,
an academician of the Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan, Z.M. Buniyatov, confirms that the district of Agran
corresponds to the Caucasian Avaria.
This word "Agran" is now unknown to modern Avars, but according to the
Altiranisches Wrterbuch of Christian Bartholomae, ara means erste, oberste; Anfang, Spitze (first, upper,
beginning, tip) and ara'va vom Obersten, von der Oberseite stammend (from the top, coming from the upper
Th. Nldeke, H. Hbschmann, R.N. Frye, A. Christensen and K. Enoki always identify the Aparshahr / Abarshahr /
Abharshahr or Abrashahr with Khurasan or Nishapur.
The Khurasan (warasan) in Iranian studies known as
"rise of Sun", Parthian apar, middle-pers/pahlavi abar/aar "up, on, over" and parthian/middle-pers. ahr is old Iran.
ara "empire, power, the sovereign house". In summary, Aparahr/Aarahr is very similar to the German word
Oberland. According to H. W. Haussig, Aarahr means Reich der Abar (kingdom of the Abar) and should be
sought in the south-western territory of the Western Turkish Empire.
Into what was first the territory of Khurasan (including the area of Gorgan), a tribe of Aparnak (parthians) moved
from Dakhistan/Dahistan (part of modern Turkmenistan). Here they entered into a confederation of Dahai tribes, the
"barbars" and "enemies of Aryans" in Avestan texts, according to Christian Bartholomae.
On the border to
Khurasan Iranian Sassanides a strong wall, named the "Great Wall of Gorgan" or the "Red snake", was built to
protect Iran from invasions of so-called White Huns - Khionites (X'iiaona and Xyn in Zoroastrian Texts
). Later
another wave of so-called White Huns - Hepthalites could obtain control over Khurasan and keep it for a long time,
during which the Avars were forced out of Merv and attacked the Sabirs to establish their own kingdom of Sarir.
According to Richard Helli: "By such reasoning, the Ephthalites are thought to have originated at Hsi-mo-ta-lo
(southwest of Badakhshan and near the Hindu Kush), which tantalizingly, stands for Himtala, "snow plain", which
may be the Sanskritized form of Hephthal.
In 484 the Hephthalite chief Akhshunwar led his army to attack the
Sassanian King Peroz (459-484), who was defeated and killed in Khurasan. After the victory, the Hephthalite empire
Avar people (Caucasus)
extended to Merv and Herat.
As is known, some Hions concluded a peace treaty with Iran and the two became allies. Iran used the Hyaona/Hion
tribe in their struggle against Byzantium. Thus, Hephthalites really lived in the Khurasan/Khorasan area. According
to the Chinese classic Liang chih-kung-t'u, (pinyin: hua) was the name the Hephthalites used for themselves, and
that is probably a Chinese transfer of a similar sounding word, war/Uar.
Mehmed Tezcan writes that according to a Chinese record, the Hephthalites descended from a Ruan Ruan tribe
called Hua in the Qeshi region (Turfan area). This tribe came to Tokharistan and soon settled also in eastern regions
of Khorasan at the beginning of the 5th century. About the same time, the name Avars/Awards appears in the
sources. Again, in his well-known Atlas of China, A. Herrmann shows the eastern regions of Khorasan, Tokharistan,
etc. as the dominions of Afu/Hua/Awards/Hephthalites between ca. 440 and 500 A.D., relying on the identification
Hua = Uar = Awar.
The German researcher Karl Menges, well known in the scientific world, considered Eurasian Avars to be one of the
ancient Mongol peoples, who "were the first to use the title ga gan (later qn, n) for their supreme ruler." Further
listing ancient Mongol speaking peoples, he obviously has in view Avars Caucasian when he mentions the "...traces
of a Mongol residue in Daghestan". Supporters of the so-called old Turanian nomad horde "infiltrate" point of view
(with various clauses) include the following scientists: Josef Marquart, Omeljan Pritsak, Vladimir Minorsky,
Vladimir Baileys, Harald Haarmann, Murad Magomedov,
Alikber Alikberov,
and Timur Aytberov.
Main article: Avar language
Party (in the village of Chokh in Ghunib
District). Artist: Halil Beg Mussayassul,
The Avar language belongs to the Avar-Andi-Tsez subgroup of the Alarodian
Northeast Caucasian (or NakhDagestanian) language family. The writing is
based on the Cyrillic script, which replaced the Arabic script used before
1927 and the Latin script used between 1927 and 1938. More than 60% of the
Avars living in Dagestan speak Russian as their second language.
Avar people (Caucasus)
Old Avarian cross with an
Avarian inscription in the old
Georgian script.
Notable Avars
Imam Shamil (Sheyh Shamil)
The most prominent figures in Avar history were Umma Khan Avarian, Hadji
Murat, and Imam Shamil. The most celebrated poet writing in the Avar
language was Rasul Gamzatov (19232003). In Azerbaijan, there was an
ethnic Avar Member of the Parliament (MP), Ali Antsukhskiy (elected in
1995), who was killed in 1996.
Famous Avar artists include Halil-Beg Mussayassul, whose drawings were
shown at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art,
and Kamil Aliev (a
distant cousin of MusayasulWikipedia:Citation needed) who is noted for his
ornamental carpet work.
A famous sportsman of Avar origin is a former WBO heavyweight champion
Sultan Ibragimov.
The World War II submarine commander and hero of the Soviet Union
Magomet Gadzhiyev was an Avar.
Mansur Isaev is an ethnic Avar judoka from Russia. He won gold in the finals
at the 2012 Summer Olympics in the class -73kg.
Alisa Ganieva, a Moscow-based award-winning author, writes in Russian, but identifies herself as an Avar.
Khabib Nurmagomedov is an Avar mixed martial artist and 2 time Combat Sambo World Champion currently
fighting in the lightweight division for the Ultimate Fighting Championship. As of September 2013, he has an
undefeated MMA record of 21-0.
Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev suspected of the Boston Marathon bombings were half Avar.
Gadzhimurat Kamalov 11 February 1965 15 December 2011 was an ethnic Avar who was born in the village of
Sogratl, which is in the Gunibsky District of Dagestan, Russia was an investigative journalist who was shot dead in
Makhachkala Dagestan. He was well known for reporting on corruption in the Dagestan area.
Avar people (Caucasus)
Media files
The famous Avarian archeologist Dr. Murad Magomedov speaks about ancient nomad migration waves of Iranians,
Turks and Protomongols to the Caspian-Daghestanian area. 2005. Attention! This file is licensed under the Creative
Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license. From archives of Moussaev_M.Z. (
Famous in Daghestan and the Daghestanian diaspora in Turkey, the Avarian poet Adallo Ali (also known as Adallo
Aliev) speaks about the Avar language, poetry and literature. 2007. Attention! The files are licensed under the
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license. Attribution: Awarenstuermer at ru.wikipedia
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Article Sources and Contributors
Article Sources and Contributors
Avar people (Caucasus) Source: Contributors: Aelfthrytha, Aghuan, Ala.foum, Alaexis, Ali-al-Bakuvi, Altenmann, Anonymous44,
Anthodology, Aranel, ArsalanKhan, Artaxiad, Avarian, Avaristan, Awarenstuermer, Bakasuprman, Baristarim, Big Adamsky, Bigturtle, Bob Burkhardt, Bouron, Brianski, Brownie Charles,
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Humus sapiens, Hrpad, Itai, J. Spencer, Jacobolus, Jaqeli, Jauhienij, Jeroen, John of Reading, Jonathan Winsky, Joy, Kaz, Kbdank71, Kepper66, Khatru2, Khestwol, Khoikhoi, Kjetil r, Koavf,
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File:Avarian Daghestan Mussayassul.jpg Source: License: Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0
Contributors: User:Gorgan Aparshahr
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File:Swastika avarian Dagh.JPG Source: License: Public Domain Contributors: Geagea, Kepper66, Mattes,
MichaelFreyTool, Ray Garraty, Russavia, Vahram Mekhitarian
File:Khunz Wolf 3b.svg Source: License: Public Domain Contributors: Vahushti Bagrationi, ( )
File:Coat of arms Avar nutsal.jpg Source: License: Public Domain Contributors: Delusion23, Gorgan
File:Sekh Gunibskij rajon.jpg Source: License: Public Domain Contributors: user Awarenstuermer
File:Avar koysu Avarian river Daghestan.jpg Source: License: Public Domain Contributors:
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File:H Mussayassul Party.jpg Source: License: Public Domain Contributors: Halil-Beg Mussayassul (was citizen of
Iran and has died in 1946 in USA)
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Warhunne at en.wikipedia
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