Circassian Toasts & Toast-Making

 

 

Amjad Jaimoukha

:

 

 

, , , . I I I I , I - . [Circassian toasts are beautiful, rich, fascinating and replete with meaning]

 

I . I II I, I, I I. I I .

 

I , I I I:

 

The following is a generic toast said to inaugurate any kind of work or endeavour:

 

I

 

, !

I I,

I I!

I ,

I !

Work Inaugurating Toast

 

Our God, Supreme Lord!

Will it to be finished quickly,

Will it to be done well!

Let it start with the right hand,

Let it end with the left!

 

, I, . I I . I . II I:

 

The elaborate and very popular toast Diy Nise Fo (Our Sweet Daughter-in-law) was pronounced during the Nisashe ceremony. Part of the toast is reproduced here:

 

:

!

 

II :

I,

I,

I,

I I,

I II,

,

I,

I I,

I I,

,

I ,

II,

,

I ,

II !

 

Nisashe Toasts:

Our Sweet Daughter-in-law!

 

The young daughter-in-law we are escorting:

May she whisper like smooth liquor,

Be soft-spoken as an ewe,

Have many offspring like a hen,

Be velvet-mouthed like a pedigree hound,

Be as famous as a thoroughbred,

Dragging the besom through the floor,

Obeying instructions,

Be on good terms with her mother-in-law,

Be kind-hearted to her brother-in-law,[1]

The homestead her heart,

Her husband her soul,

May our bride and bridegroom

Be glued together like hair in honey,

If their feet should lose their bearing,

They are re-allotted by drawing lots,

May they find prosperity in this world!

 

 

 

I I I II. I I . I I, , , . I I , I I:

 

In the Wine-yishe ceremony, the bride would step with her right foot on a sheepskin mat spread on the threshold of the house with the woolly side turned upwards. As she stood on the mat, the lady of the house and other old ladies of the household would toast her thus:

 

 

 

,

I, I!

, !

 

,

- ,

I!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wineyishe Toast

 

Our Lord,

Bless her step and let it bode well!

As much as the number of filaments on the rug she stands on

Bestow honour, good fortune and health upon her!

 

Our Lord,

Strew upon us a hundred male offspring,

Make us a clan!

 

 

I :

 

 

, I

II ,

I,

I

,

I !

,

.

 

Schaweyishezh Toasts

 

Hey, our younger brother

Master of the centuries,

When thou huntest foxes

Thou shootest deer,

When thou fishest with a net

Thou fetchest gold,

Long may thou live,

And may thy good fortune last forever!

This is the path we have paved for this clan,

In thine old age the nanny is thy ally.

 

 

I I , I I I.

 

In Circassian folklore, and in accordance with the saying I , a (newly married) man was considered (or hoped to be) the initiator of a new clan.

 

I. I I I I . , I I II I I I I I.

 

Sowing and harvest festivals and rituals, such as Start of Ploughing Campaign (Vakwedech), Attaching the Ploughshare (Vabdze Teilhhe), Drawing the First Furrow (Ghwne-yilh), End of Ploughing Campaign (Vakweqiyhezh), were initiated by pronouncing toasts supplicating Theghelej, god of the crops, for abundance. For example, before drawing the first furrow, Theghelej was invoked thus:

 

 

 

,

,
I,

I !

 

I,

I ,

II,

I I,

I II

!


[ I,

,

I ,

II ,

, II!]

 

Toast of the First Furrow

 

Our god,

Theghelej,

Lord of wonder,

We pray thee: Multiply our harvest!

 

Nill our work to be toilsome,

May we live in clover,

May we be able to do charity,

May our forge give us joy,

Our small fortunes

Will them to multiply!

 

 

 

I I , , , I . I I:

 

A section of a famous traditional table-toast is presented:

I

 

,

,

,

,

,

II,

I,

I ,

,

,

,

- ,

I II,

I ,

,

,

II !

 

I,

I ,

I I,

II I,

,

,

I,

II !

Table-Toast

 

Our God,

The Supreme Lord,

Anadola,[2]

Golden ravine,

This household

Majestic and grandiose abode,

Where great oxen are sacrificed,

The drinking place of the Narts,

Manorial seat of happiness,

The door-posts of propitious wood,

The venison multi-layered,

The crops brought in in cartloadfuls,

The wood and water carried by nine lads,

The vat stirred by nine women,

The hens herded by ten women,

Their toast-making never ending,

Their beverage filled to bursting,

May it remain intact for a thousand years!

 

Oxen slaughtered in honour of guests,

The daughters singing the airs,

The bride going round not on her own,

The cooks donning satin aprons,

The plate stacks drawn from the sideboard,

The chest brimful with money,

You whose quiver of verses never go short,

May it keep safe for a thousand years!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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[1] A Circassian woman never called her parents-in-law, husband, or her brothers-in-law by their names. In the last case, she used pet names (pschiqwetse) to refer to them, for example Dighetsikw (Little Sun). It was a secretive appellation that she never divulged outside the family circle. A saying prevalent in the olden times was Pschiqwetse mixwame, qidzheie schexwr!Tell us your secret, if it isnt the pet name of your brother-in-law! Among the upper classes, it was considered a mark of courtesy that when the names of a womans husband, father, or elder brothers were mentioned, she stood up.

 

[2] Epithet of the Supreme God? Anatolia is a region in the Asian portion of modern-day Turkey. People ancestral (or akin) to the Circassians and Abkhazians (e.g. the Hattians) inhabited this region and established seminal civilizations starting in the third millennium BC. For more details, see A. Jaimoukha, 2001, pp 41-2.