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Adyghe (Circassian) Knight

Shapsugs (Adyghe: шапсыгъ [ʃaːpsəʁ], Russian: шапсуги, Arabic: الشابسوغ) are a Circassian tribe of the Adyghe branch, who are currently living in the Tuapsinsky District (Tuapse) of Krasnodar Krai, Lazarevsky City District of Sochi, and in the Republic of Adygea, all in Russia. These areas are a small part of historical Circassia, in addition to diaspora (Amman, Naour, Marj Al-hamam, Wadi Al Seer) Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, Israel (Kfar Kama), Syria, Europe, United States of America. The first Circassians to settle in Amman were from the Shapsug tribe and as a result the Shapsugs neighbourhood considered the oldest neighbourhood in the Capital Amman and was the down town of it,[1] however later other Circassians from the Kabardian, Abadzekh and Bzadoug tribes also came to Amman.

The Shapsugs speak a dialect of the Adyghe language.[2] According to some indirect data, there were over four thousand Shapsugs in Russia in 1926, but the Shapsug people were not enumerated as a separate group in Russian Censuses until 2002, when the population was recorded at 3,231. however; the Shapsugs who live in the Republic of Adyghea (mainly in District of Takhtamukaysky and District of Teuchezksky) were enumerated as an Adyghe instead of Shapsug, because the Adyghe/Circassians nation considered the Umbrella for all Adyghe Tribes.

In District of Takhtamukaysky a reservoir which was built in 1952 was named on the Shapsug tribe (Russian: Шапсугское водохранилище) since the area was inhabited by the Shapsug tribe for thousands of years, and considered part of historical Shapsugia which was part of historical Circassia.

Shapsugs are primarily Sunni Muslims.[3]

The Shapsugs used to make up one of the biggest groups of the Black Sea Adyghe (причерноморские адыги; today's Adyghe people). They inhabited the region between the Dzhubga (in Adyghe: Жьыбгъэ means "Winds" or "The Valley of Winds") River and Shakhe Rivers (the so-called Maly Shapsug, or Little Shapsug) and high-altitude mountainous areas of the northern slopes of the Caucasus Range along the Antkhir, Abin, Afips, Bakan, Ships and other rivers (Bolshoy Shapsug, or Greater Shapsug).


An Adyghe strike on a Russian Military Fort which built over a Shapsugian village that aim to free the Circassian Coast from the occupiers in 1840 during the Circassians Resistance.

The Shapsugs were a very large tribe that occupied extensive territories of Black Sea coast and Kuban River. Different sources note that before the Caucasian war the number of Shapsugs was ranging from 150,000 to 300,000 people. They composed 2/3 of the Circassian population. Shapsugs had divisions of Big and Small Shapsug land, people of the later were very close with Natukhai tribe. Shapsugs took very active part in the Caucasian war. They had a reputation of invincible people and were the last to lay down their weapons under the pressure of tsarist troops in 1864. Some of Shapsoug troop still fought up to 1880s. After the end of the war the overwhelming majority of Shapsugs was forcefully evicted to Turkey and elsewhere in the Middle East. No more than 6,000 Shapsugs remained on their native land. Nowadays, they live on the territory of Krasnodarsky Krai and make about 20 villages of 15,000 people in total. From 1924 up to 1945, there was Shapsoug district which was abolished during the time of Stalin repressions.[citation needed]

Historically the Shapsugs controlled the ports of Dzhubga (Adyghe: Жьыбгъэ) and Tuapse to mountain Gorges, and they consisted of 5 aristocratic families and 81 (Adyghe: Фэкъул1) free clans and classified as an Adyghe Democratic tribe,[4][5] and were known to have supported the Adyghe in their struggle against the Crimean Khanate. During the Caucasian War, they were one of the most stubborn enemies of Imperial Russia, joining Shamil's alliance (which would last until 1859). In late 1860, a Majlis was assembled, which would unite the Shapsugs, Ubykhs, and Natuqais and considered (Adyghe: Шъачэ) Sochi the last capital of the Circassians resistance. In 1864, a major part of the Shapsugs and other Adyghes moved to the Ottoman Empire and other nearby regions of the Middle East due to the Russian army occupation of the region (Circassia),[6] beside the regular tsars' policy during the era of the Russian Empire to cleanse the Circassian coast from Circassians (mainly physically then by expelling the remaining to the Ottoman Empire.[7] After the end of Caucasian War (during the period of 1864-1870) almost a major part of the Shapsugs, who lived on the territory of Shapsugia, were either killed in the Circassian Genocide or expelled to the Ottoman Empire (see Muhajir). In the Ottoman Empire the Shapsugs were partially assimilated or blended into the Cherkess community. Some 3,000 Shapsyghs remained in the Caucasus.[8]

The Shapsugs as an Adyghe tribe always appreciate and honor their immortals (heroes and fighters) who sacrifice their selves to keep Circassia independent in the battles and war with the Russian Empire during the Circassians resistance; by elegies such as the Elegy of the Shapsugs (Adyghe: Шапсыгъэ л1ыхъужъхэм ягъыбз)[9]

In 1924, the Bolsheviks established the Shapsug National Raion. In 1990, the first congress of the Shapsug people took place, where they would adopt a declaration on the reinstatement of the Shapsug National Raion. On 12 June 1992, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation passed a resolution on the establishment of the Shapsug National Raion.[clarification needed]


The traditional Shapsug culture had much in common with the Adyghe culture. The Shapsugs were engaged in agriculture, cattle- and horse breeding, gardening, viticulture and bee keeping. In pre-Islamic times, the Shapsugs worshiped gods common among all the Adyghe peoples – Shible (god of thunder and lightning), Sozeresh (Adyghe: Созереш) (god of fertility), Yemish or Yemij (god of war), Akhin and Khakustash (protectors of cattle breeding), Tlepsh (god of blacksmithing), Keshkogwasaha (Adyghe: Хышхогуащэ) (god of the black sea), etc. The Shapsugs used to perform the Hantse Guashe (Adyghe: Хьэнцэ гуащэ) ceremony of rain calling during droughts by carrying a dressed doll through the aul and then drowning it in the river, and never getting it out before raining.[10]

The Shapsugs neighbourhood in Amman (Jordan)
The Shapsugs village Kfar Kama in (Israel)


The Shapsug language (Adyghe: шапсыгъэбзэ) is one of the Adyghe language dialects. There were two major dialects of Shapsug before the Adyghe were exiled. When the Shapsugs scattered around the world, each Shapsug community developed its dialect differently.

List of Shapsug dialects[edit]

  • West Circassian (Adyghe)
    • Shapsug (Adyghe: Шапсыгъабзэ)
      • North Shapsugs, Great Shapsugs, Kuban Shapsugs dialect(шапсыгъэ шху).
      • Temirgoy-Shapsugs, Pseuşko accent (кӏэмгуе-шапсыгъ)
      • South Shapsugs, Small Shapsugs, Coastal Shapsugs Black Sea Shapsugs (шапсыгъэ-цıыкıу) dialect.
      • Hakuchi Adyghe dialect (ХьакӀуцубзэ, Къaрaцхaибзэ)

Shapsug families[edit]

Some of the Shapsugs families that live in Jordan[edit]

  • Kosho (Adyghe: Кушъу / Кушу)
  • Pshedatok (Adyghe: Пшыдатукъ)
  • Shhalakhwa (Adyghe: Шхьэлахъуэ)
  • Psekenop (Adyghe: Псыкынуп)
  • Jan (Adyghe: джан)
  • T’harkakhwa (Adyghe: Тхьэркъахъуэ)
  • Kwiej (Adyghe: къуеж)
  • Hadagha (Adyghe: Хьэдагъэ)
  • Meesha (Adyghe: Мишэ)
  • Hatough (Adyghe: Хьэтогъ)
  • Naghoj (Adyghe: Нэгъуж)
  • Tamokh (Adyghe: Тамохъ)
  • Khorma (Adyghe: Хъурмэ)
  • Bghana (Adyghe: Бгъанэ) which changed in Jordan to Hakouz - Хэкужъ - after their 15th great Grandfather Хэкужъ born in 1337 in Tuapse }}), and this family considered the biggest Shapsug family in Jordan.
  • Natkho(shukri)
  • Shawash (Adyghe: ШъэошIу)
  • Shoupash (Adyghe: шупащ)

Shapsug families that live in Israel Kfar Kama[edit]

  • Abrag (Adyghe: Абрэгь)
  • Ashmuz/Achmuzh (Adyghe: Ачъумыжъ)
  • Bghana (Adyghe: Бгъанэ known as Hakouz -Хэкужъ -in Jordan after their 15th great grandfather)
  • Bat (Adyghe: Бат)
  • Bzhehaqo/shubash (Adyghe: Бжьэхьакъо)
  • Blanghaps (Adyghe: БлэнгъэпсI)
  • Batwash (Adyghe: БэтIыуашъ)
  • Zazi(Adyghe: Зази)
  • Kobla (Adyghe: Коблэ)
  • Qal (Adyghe: Къалыкъу)
  • Qatizh (Adyghe: Къэтыжъ)
  • Lauz (Adyghe: ЛъыIужъ)
  • Libai/Labai(Adyghe: ЛIыпый)
  • Nago (Adyghe: Наго)
  • Natkho (Adyghe: Натхъо)
  • Nash (Adyghe: Наш)
  • Napso (Adyghe: Нэпсэу)
  • Thawcho (Adyghe: Тхьэухъо)
  • Gorkhezh (Adyghe: ГъоркIожъ)
  • Hazal (Adyghe: Хъэзэл)
  • Hadish (Adyghe: Хьэдищ)
  • Hako/Hakho (Adyghe: Хьэхъу)
  • Shamsi (Adyghe: Чъуэмшъо)
  • Choshha/Shoshha (Adyghe: Чъушъхьэ)
  • Showgan (Adyghe: Шэугьэн)
  • Shaga (Adyghe: Шъуагьэ)
  • Sagas/Shagash (Adyghe: Шъэгьашъ)

In the past there was also Shhalakhwa (Adyghe: Шхьэлахъуэ).

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Official Website of Amman
  2. ^ Shapsug Dialect (French Language)
  3. ^ via New York Times
  4. ^ Walter Richmond [1], The Northwest Caucasus :Past, Present, Future, p. 22, Central Asian Studies Series, 2008 ISBN 978-0-415-77615-8
  5. ^ Walter Richmond, "The Northwest Caucasus:Past Present, Future", Arabic Translation by Jameel Ishaqat, p. 46, Circassians Studies Centre, Amman, Jordan, 2010
  6. ^ via the Voice of Russia
  7. ^ Peter Hopkirk The great game: On Secret Service in High Asia, Chapter 12 “The Greatest Fortress in the World”, pp 158-159, Oxford University Press, 2001 ISBN 0-19-280232-1
  8. ^ by Russia Today (English)
  9. ^ “Адыгэ 1оры1уатэм ухэзгъэгъозэн тхылъ “, Ехъул1э Ат1ыф ,Нахэ (176) ,гощын (2), Адыгэ ш1уш1э Хасэ, Йордания ,2009. (Arabic Language)
  10. ^ “Адыгэ 1оры1уатэм ухэзгъэгъозэн тхылъ“,Ехъул1э Ат1ыф ,Нахэ(91),гощын(2),Адыгэ ш1уш1э Хасэ, Йордания,2009 (Arabic Language)

External links[edit]