Abzakh people

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Not to be confused with Abkhaz people.

Abzakhs/Abadzekh (Adyghe: абдзах, Russian: абадзехи) are a people of Adyghe branch.

A significant part of them live in diaspora in Turkey - about 500 thousand people, which are descendants of refugees (muhajirs) from the Caucasian War with the Russian Empire. Their dominant religion is Sunni Islam. They were among the first Muhajir, starting their exodus in 1879.


About 1,123 Abzakhs live in the Rehaniya, in Galilee (North District, Israel). Rehaniya has an Adyghe museum.

In 1958, Abzakhs (and other Adyghe) of Israel were allowed to enter military service, which gives a number of privileges.


The Abzakhs people speak a dialect (Adyghe: Абдзахэбзэ) of the Adyghe language.

Meaning Abzakh dialect Standard Adyghe
Cyrillic IPA Cyrillic IPA
boy/young man ӏелэ (ӏэйлэ) ʔajla кӏалэ t͡ʃʼaːla
big джадэ d͡ʒaːda мытӏыр mətʼər
runs мащэ maːɕa мачӏэ maːt͡ʃʼa
cold щыӏэ ɕəʔa чъыӏэ t͡ʂəʔa
to regret ӏэйгъожьын ʔajʁʷaʑən кӏэгъожьын t͡ʃʼaʁʷaʑən
few маӏэ maːʔa макӏэ maːt͡ʃa
night щэщы ɕaɕə чэщы t͡ʃaɕə
to ask ӏэйупкӏын ʔajwpt͡ʃʼən кӏэупкӏэн t͡ʃawpt͡ʃan
cow щэм ɕam чэм t͡ʃam
yard къалэ qaːla щагу ɕaːɡʷ

In the Abzakh dialect the conjugation under prefix is -ӏэй (-ʔaj) unlike other Adyghe dialects that the prefix is -чIэ (-t͡ʃʼa).

Meaning Abzakh dialect Standard Adyghe Standard Kabardian
Cyrillic IPA Cyrillic IPA Cyrillic IPA
stands ӏэйт ʔajt чIэт t͡ʃʼat щIэт ɕ’at
sits ӏэйс ʔajs чӏэс t͡ʃʼas щIэс ɕ’as
lies ӏэйлъ ʔajɬ чIэлъ t͡ʃʼaɬ щIэлъ ɕ’aɬ


Before the Caucasian War Abzakhs inhabited the northern slope of the Caucasus mountain range, near the land of the shapsugs. Major settlements or villages were located in the river valleys Kurdzhips, Pchehe, Pshish and Psekups. They were divided into nine companies. geographically, they lived in the mountainous part of the modern Adygea and Krasnodar Territory.

After the Caucasian war, most Abzakhs (and other Circassians) were deported to the Ottoman Empire, the remaining Abzakhs are relocated to the present-day steppe Shovgenovsky district. Abadzekhs, being the second most numerous tribe (the first was the Shapsugs). Without merging with other groups of Circassians, retain their identity to the expulsion of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the Caucasian War.

The tribe was divided into society, a society divided into communities, managed by elected elders. In discussing and resolving important issues elders agreed in a general meeting. The Abzakhs engaged in arable farming and horticulture, and kept many animals, and especially prized horses. In the mountains Abzakhs mined iron, lead, copper, and perhaps silver.

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