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 Standard Kabardian
Cyrillic IPA Cyrillic IPA Cyrillic IPA
boy/young man ӏелэ (ӏэйлэ) ʔajla кӏалэ t͡ʃʼaːɮa щӏалэ ɕʼaːɮa
big джадэ d͡ʒaːda мытӏыр mətʼər - -
village щылэ ɕəla чылэ t͡ʃəɮa жылэ ʒəɮa
spear пщы pɕə пчы pt͡ʃə - -
goat пщэны pɕanə пчэны pt͡ʃanə - -
to run щэн ɕan чъэн t͡ʃʼan жэн ʒan
cold щыӏэ ɕəʔa чъыӏэ t͡ʂəʔa щӏыӏэ ɕʼəʔa
to regret ӏэйгъожьын ʔajʁʷaʑən кӏэгъожьын t͡ʃʼaʁʷaʑən щӏегъуэжын ɕʼeʁʷaʒən
few маӏэ maːʔa макӏэ maːt͡ʃa мащӏэ maːɕʼa
night щэщы ɕaɕə чэщы t͡ʃaɕə жэщ ʒaɕ
to ask ӏэйупкӏэн ʔajwpt͡ʃʼan кӏэупкӏэн t͡ʃawpt͡ʃan щӏэупщӏэн ɕʼawpɕʼan
cow щэм ɕam чэм t͡ʃam жэм ʒam
yard къалэ qaːla щагу ɕaːɡʷ - -
fast щыкӏай ɕət͡ʃaːj чъыкӏай t͡ʂət͡ʃaːj - -

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 чӏэт t͡ʃʼat щӏэт ɕ’at
sits ӏэйс ʔajs чӏэс t͡ʃʼas щӏэс ɕ’as
lies ӏэйлъ ʔajɬ чӏэлъ t͡ʃʼaɬ щӏэлъ ɕ’aɬ

Sound changes :

  • Abzakh Iэй ↔ кӏ Standard: ӏэйлэ↔ кӏалэ, ӏэйс↔ чӏэс, Iэйхь ↔ чӏахь
  • Abzakh щ ↔ ч чъ Standard: щыӏэ ↔ чъыӏэ, щэм ↔ чэм, мащэ ↔ мачӏэ, щэм ↔ чэм, мащэ ↔ мачӏэ


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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