The Status of the Circassian Language and Culture in Circassia


Running the Gamut


A Cyber Odyssey Across the Expanse of Circassian Culture and Language


This is a journey of discovery aiming to comprehend the span of Circassian culture and folklore across the Caucasus and uncover the cyber manifestations of Circassian language in the public cyber space, and later into other parts of the Earth where Circassians have made a home. To set the standard as high as possible (or impossibly high?), and to add spice to the cargo and lay the challenge on the hapless captain, some extraordinary (inane?) claims shall be made at the outset of the journey concerning Circassian culture and language, namely that they are at least as rich as their other fellow Caucasian cultures in the Transcaucasus, and that in their current cyber manifestations they are just pale imitations of both their rich present and glorious past. At the end of this virtual reality tour, these claims shall be looked into and the present state of cyber manifestations of Circassian language and culture shall be assessed based on the findings.



Circassia, land of mystery and romance.

Present-day Circassian republics are (from east to west): the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic,

the Karachai-Cherkess Republic, the Republic of Adigea, and the Shapsugh Region. There are

also close to 100,000 Circassians in the Stavropol and Krasnodar Krais in the Northwest Caucasus,

and a few thousand Christian Kabardians in the Mozdok Region of the Republic of North Ossetia.

Circassia in the 19th century easily comprehended more than double the Circassian territories

indicated on the map.


It is hoped that the information and comments would be of help in creating a holistic image of the present cyber state of Circassian culture and language and to dispel misconceptions associated with them. It is also meant as a response to the peeve question: 'Is there a Circassian culture?', asked mainly by Circassians themselves either sincerely or cynically. It is also an attempt to transcend the parochialism of diaspora perceptions of Circassian culture. Circassian culture has witnessed tremendous development in the last 150 years (hopefully this trip would demonstrate this) during which diaspora societies were undergoing steady erosion of their culture and folklore. Although the cultural scenes are not as bright as one would hope, nevertheless, the work that was done by Circassian researchers and cultural workers through the past two centuries is nothing less than miraculous. We should all remember that the Circassians in Circassia were on the edge of extinction in the middle years of the 19th century. The tenacity and dedication of the people who somehow remained in the fatherland should never be underestimated. These are the people who saved the Circassian ethnos and persevered under extremely difficult circumstances to preserve Circassian presence in Circassia. The beautiful scenery described in this journey are monuments to the Circassian iron spirit. One should also keep in mind that the multi-coloured manifestations are the products of a people that can barely hit the one million mark in numbers and that still exists in the suffocating conditions of colonialism, where their will is not as free as it should be. That there are literally thousands that are engaged in cultural and folkloric work in these circumstances is an indication of the vitality of the people.


Yet, the manifestations of Circassian language and culture in Circassia are still not overpowering. One does not get the feeling that one is immersed in the Circassian spirit, especially in the larger towns (Nalchik, Maikop, Cherkessk). The possible reasons for this phenomenon shall be speculated upon. It is envisaged that as the number and absolute percentage of Circassians in their republics increase, the Circassian 'feel' of these towns would also be enhanced.


Some institutions shall be visited despite the lack of cyber addresses to indicate the need for action. Some comparative comments shall also be made, not to criticise per se, but to draw attention to what could be done to ameliorate the situation. If you think there are places of interest that need to be included in the itinerary, please let us know about them by dropping us a line at  


The diary accompanying the journey is in no way meant to offend or undermine the beauty of the scenery. The comments are merely personal views as to how the landscape could be made better. In the presence of the great personages who are actively engaged in cultural work in Circassia, one can only feel as a minnow. One's only excuse is the desire to make a tiny contribution to an issue that is so dear to one's heart.


A system of assessment shall be applied to grade the visited institutions in terms of research, publication, promotion of the Circassian language, cultural content of the website in Circassian, and outreach and influence. Strictly speaking, the grade is only an evaluation of the cyber manifestations of Circassian language and culture, and not necessarily a reflection of the actual work on the ground. An institution could be the backbone of Circassian cultural work in a republic, but if it is a bit remiss when it comes to electronic expression of such work, then access to this good work is curtailed, and the mission to spread Circassian language and culture is stymied.



The Republic of Adigea


The Karachai-Cherkess Republic


The Kabardino-Balkarian Republic


The Shapsugh Region


Other sites of interest


Notes on the Journey: Present State of Circassian Language and Culture in Cyber Space



Related issues:

Language Policy and Education in Circassia


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