Ubykh people

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Ubykh
Regions with significant populations
Turkey
Languages
Turkish, Hakuchi Adyghe
Religion
Sunni Islam
Related ethnic groups
other "Circassian" peoples

The Ubykh are a group who spoke the Northwest Caucasian Ubykh language, until other local languages displaced it and its last speaker died in 1992.

Kirantukh Berzeg (Бэрзэг Кэрэнтыхъу) the last Ubykh prince.

The Ubykh used to inhabit an area in what is today Sochi, Krasnodar Krai, Russia. They may well have been inhabitants of the ancient Georgian Kingdom of Colchis.

Outside of mythology, the probable ancestors of the Ubykh were mentioned in book IV of Procopius' De Bello Gothico (The Gothic War), under the name βροῦχοι (Bruchi), a corruption of the native term tʷaχ.

In 1667 Ubykh were mentioned in book Evliya Çelebi.[1]

The Ubykh were semi-nomadic horsemen, and their language contained a finely differentiated vocabulary related to horses and tack. Some Ubykh also practised favomancy and scapulomancy.

However, the Ubykh gained more prominence in modern times. By 1864, during the reign of Tsar Alexander II, the Russian conquest of the Northwestern Caucasus had been completed. The Adyghe and Abkhaz were decimated, and the Abaza were partially driven out of the Caucasus. Faced with the threat of subjugation by the Russian army, the Ubykh, as well as other Muslim peoples of Caucasus, left their homeland en masse beginning on March 6, 1864. By May 21, the entire Ubykh nation had departed from the Caucasus. They eventually settled in a number of villages in western Turkey around the municipality of Manyas.

In order to avoid discrimination, the Ubykh elders encouraged their people to assimilate into Turkish culture. Having abandoned their traditional nomadic culture, they became a nation of farmers. The Ubykh language was rapidly displaced by Turkish and Circassian; the last native speaker of Ubykh, Tevfik Esenç, died in 1992.

Today, the Ubykh diaspora has been scattered about Turkey and—to a much lesser extent—Jordan. The Ubykh nation per se no longer exists, although those who are of Ubykh ancestry are proud to call themselves Ubykh, and a couple of villages are still found in Turkey where the vast majority of the population is Ubykh by descent.

Ubykh society was patrilineal; many Ubykh descendants today know five, six, or even seven generations of their agnatic ancestry. Nevertheless, as in other Northwest Caucasian cultures, women were especially venerated, and the Ubykh language retains a special second person pronoun prefix used exclusively with women (χa-).

The Ubykh and Abkhazian leaders in the Sochi valley 1841

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