Chechen wolf

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The gray wolf (Chechen: Borz, pronounced [bo̞ɾz] or [bwoɾz]) is the national animal of the Chechen nation.[1]

Characteristics of the wolf are also frequently compared to the Chechen people in a poetic or metaphoric sense, e.g. as being "free and equal like wolves",[2][3][4] or representing "courage and tenacity", compared to the British "stiff upper lip" by Jaimoukha (2005).[5] The saying of a person having been "raised by the She-Wolf" expresses admirable personality traits.[1] Wolf clans are often equated to Chechen teips.


There is one myth that the mythological founder of the Chechen nation, Turpalo-Noxchuo (Chechen Hero, who Chechens are descended from "like sparks of steel"), was raised by a fabled, loving "Wolf Mother".

Old Chechen lore holds that the sheep was actually originally created for the wolf to enjoy, but man "stole" the sheep from the wolf (this is rather interesting considering that many Chechens in the past have in fact been shepherds). According to the ethnographic historian Jaimoukha, in olden times Chechens used to observe a wolf cult that would prevent lupine raids on sheep, by observing Saturday as being a special day.[1]

In insignia and symbols[edit]

Chechen (Ichkerian) seal bearing a wolf, the nation's symbolic embodiment.

The wolf is frequently used for insignia and images, as a symbol of the Chechen nation. Common poses involve the wolf howling off the top of a mountain (Chechnya is very mountainous), laying down, or staring at the viewer.

The different poses evoke different symbolism:

  • The wolf howling off the top of the mountain is usually an expression of national pride. In the period of 1991-1994, broadcasts in independent Chechnya bore this symbol,[6] in that case symbolizing the struggle for national recognition. The symbol is also used by Chechens nowadays as a simple expression of being proud they are Chechen.
  • The wolf lying down, facing the viewer is usually a reference to the mythological "Wolf Mother" of Turpalo-Noxchuo.
  • Staring at the viewer usually evokes a feeling of intense emotion that the artist is implying they believe is felt by the Chechen nation.

Modernly, the coat of arms of the secular separatists in Chechnya bore the wolf. The Islamists later removed it and replaced it with Arabic script, and the Russian-sponsored ruling regime removed it entirely, but the secular government in exile still uses it. In addition, many other insignia of the Chechen nation (of all three governments) use the wolf as a heraldic symbol.

In naming[edit]

  • The gun manufactured by the Chechen separatists in the two Chechen wars was called the Borz, after the wolf.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Jaimoukha, Amjad. The Chechens: A Handbook, Caucasus World: Peoples of the Caucasus, Routledge; (2005), p. 153.
  2. ^ Jaimoukha. (2005:83)
  3. ^ Gammer, Moshe. The Lone Wolf and the Bear: Three Centuries of Chechen Defiance of Russian Rule. London 2006. Page 4
  4. ^ Wood, Tony. Chechnya: The Case for Independence. page 13.
  5. ^ "According to the Chechen ethos, the wolf is the only animal that would enter into an unequal match, making up for any disadvantage by its agility, wit, courage and tenacity. If it loses the battle, it lies down facing the foe in full acceptance of its fate—Chechen poise equivalent to the famed British ‘stiff upper lip’." Jaimoukha. (2005:153)
  6. ^ Henze, Paul B; in collaboration with Tishkov, Valery. Islam in the North Caucasus: the Example of Chechenia. Originally completed September 1993, "somewhat updated", released May 1995. Available from website in pdf form here: [1]
  7. ^ "Chechnya's Homemade Weapons Fuel War". 2009-08-13. Retrieved 2009-10-22.