The Archi of Dagestan

This Google Map shows the traditional villages of the Archi ethnos or people in the Republic of Dagestan, Russia.

The Archintsy, who are Sunni Muslim, speak their own Archi language (a peripheral branch of the Lezgic group of Caucasian languages) and self-identify (apparently mistakenly, given their language) as Avars.

The Archi are usually described in internet sources as occupying eight villages, although all the accounts, at least in the English and Russian languages, then proceed to name a maxmum of seven. Only seven villages are visible on satellite imagery, including that of Bing Maps (which is often superior to Google Maps and its derivatives for the mountainous Caucasus region). The identity of the eighth village is unknown; it is neither Chitab nor Shalib, which are situate to the N and NE respectively of the Archi villages, and there are no evident settlements to the S. Only seven are marked on this Google Map therefore. Possibly the eighth village was very small and has been abandoned.

 

The Khvarshi of Dagestan

This Google Map shows the distribution of another minority ethnos or people of the Caucasus, namely that of the Khvarshi (or Khwarshi) of the Republic of Dagestan in Russia.

The seven historic villages of the Khvarshi are shown with green pins on the map. The Khvarshi speak their own eponymous Khvarshi language and profess the Sunni form of Islam.

In 1944, the community was deported en masse from their traditional villages to Ritlyab (in Dagestan) and Vedeno (in Chechnya), places shown with grey pins on the map.

After the Great Patriotic War, many Khvarshi returned to their native villages in the highlands. Others remained where they were or moved on to the five settlements in northern Dagestan shown with blue pins on the map, where they remain till today.

 

The Armenians of Krasnodar krai (the Kuban)

The Google Map shows places of Armenian settlement in the Krasnodar krai, or region, of Russia, also known historically as the Kuban.

The history of Armenian settlement in this region of southern Russia is both old and complex, with multiple layers of immigration. These date from the Middle Ages (with the so-called Cherkesogai or Circassian Armenians), through to C19th Hemşin/Hemshin migrants from Anatolia (both Christian and Muslim converts), to 1915 Genocide survivors and late C20th refugees from Azerbaijan, Chechnya and Georgia and even from Central Asia. For over 500 hundred years, the Krasnodar or Kuban region has been a safe haven for Armenians.

Over 60 cities, towns and villages with a significant Armenian presence are plotted on the map. However, there are many small towns and villages with a modest or minority Armenian population not marked on this map; it does not purport to be fully comprehensive and complete.

Churches are shown (indicated by a cross) only when known to exist and positively identified. This does not mean to say that other settlements do not have places of worship. As mentioned above, a proportion of the Hemshin Armenians are adherents of Islam rather than Christians.

 

The Hunzibs of Dagestan & Georgia

This Google Map shows the distribution of Hunzib settlement in the Caucasus. The Hunzibs are ethnically Avar and Sunni Muslim highlanders. They have their own Hunzib language, although the number of speakers is under 5,000 and quite possibly under 2,500.

The heartland of the Hunzib people is in Dagestan, in the cluster of three villages, shown in blue, near Tlyadal: Garbutl, Gunzib and Nakhada. There were or are smaller settlements in this vicinity, either hamlets or neighbourhoods of the main villages (small as they themselves are) also occupied by Hunzibs: these are Gelo, Khelada, Novaya Nakhada, Novo Garbutl, Rodor, and Todor. It is possible that one or two of these are alternative names for one of the main villages, just as Gunzib, or parts of it, seems to have been known as Darbal or Darbali and/or Rodol at one time (or perhaps in a different tongue).

There is no letter “h” in Russian; it is replaced by “g”. Dagestan, as part of the Russian Federation, officially uses the Russian language and hence Hunzib (the ethnos) is identical with Gunzib (the village).

Hunzibs live additionally in two large villages in the Kizilyurt district of north-eastern Dagestan (marked with purple pins on the map). These places were not settled by Hunzibs until the C20th, possibly as a result of disruption and displacement during Soviet times.

The three villages in Georgia, marked with red pins, are home to numbers of Avars including Hunzibs – the village of Saruso is a majority Hunzib settlement. These places are shown on the map under their official Georgian names followed by their Avar/Hunzib names – for example, Saruso is the Georgian and Khaladukh the Hunzib name.

 

The Mountain Jews of Dagestan

This Google Map showing the Mountain Jews of the Republic of Dagestan, Russia is a companion to an earlier map showing the Mountain Jewish settlements in Azerbaijan. For the long 19th century and beyond, both Dagestan and Azerbaijan were part of Imperial Russia and then the Soviet Union (and of course, Dagestan still is a part of Russia), meaning that the border between them was of little significance.

Karchag is often described as a Mountain Jewish village in the vicinity of Quba in Azerbaijan but lies over the (modern) border in Dagestan.

Many of the Mountain Jewish (Juhurim) mountain villages or auls have now been abandoned, but most which were extant during the latter years of the C19th have been positively identified and marked on the map. A pin on the map does not imply an extant Jewish community.

The list below shows the Mountain Jewish villages of Dagestan recorded in the compendious Сборник сведений о кавказских горцах (or: Collection of Information on the Caucasus Highlanders) volume 3, published in Tbilisi (then Tiflis) in 1870. Chapter 3 within this volume is on the subject of the Mountain Jews and section V of this chapter is in the form of a statistical table giving the names of Mountain Jewish communities and their size (expressed as “smokes”, i.e. hearths – that is to say, households) plus the number of rabbis, synagogues and schools. To calculate the approximate population of a village, one might multiply the hearths by, say, 5, so therefore, for example, Tarki may have had a population of 250, Derbent of 1,000, and Magalis of 500 souls.

 

Russian name in 1870 Name on map hearths rabbis synagogues schools
Tarki Tarki 50 1 1 1
Buinaki   15 1 1 1
Karabudakhkent Karabudakhkent 18 1 1 1
Durgeli Dorgeli 25 1 1 1
Dzhengutay Dzhengutay 6 0 0 0
Temir-Khan-Shura Buynaksk 35 2 1 1
Chir-Yurt Kizilyurt 10 0 0 0
Derbent Derbent 200 1 2 7
Khoshmanzil Khoshmenzil 21 1 1 1
Aglabi Aglobi 6 0 0 0
Nyugdi-Myushkur Nyugdi 68 1 1 2
Rukel Rukel 30 0 1 0
Mugatir Mugarty 29 1 1 1
Maraga Maraga 16 1 1 1
Kheli-Penzhdi Kheli + Penzhdi 18 1 1 1
Gemeidi Gimeydi 22 1 1 1
Madzhalis Madzhalis (Majalis) 100 1 1 2
Yangikent Yangikent 116 2 2 2
Mamrach Sovetskoye 82 1 1 1
Khandzhal-Kala Novyy Usur 30 1 1 1
Arag Ashaga Yarak 87 1 1 2
Karchag Karchag 25 1 1 1
Imam-Kuli-Kent Imam-Kuli-Kent 11 0 0 0
Dzherakh Dzhara 20 1 1 1
Khasav-Yurt Khasavyurt 40 2 2 2
Andreevok Endirey 23 1 1 1
Kostek Kostek 37 1 1 1
Kazi-Yurt Kaziyurt 1 0 0 0
Aksay, or Tashkichu Aksay 81 2 1 2

 

The location of some known Mountain Jewish communities – such as Buinaki (which is not Buynaksk and was possibly a neighbourhood or outlying village of Makhachkala now swallowed up by the city) – has not yet been established.

The Mountain Jewish population of Dagestan, like that of Azerbaijan, is now much reduced, by emigration within Russia and beyond to Israel and North America.

 

Turkish names of Armenian villages in Kars province

The place name concordance below shows the Armenian settlements of Kars oblast (province) of the period 1900s/1910s, taken from late Imperial Russian gazetteers. It is designed to help Armenian family historians to locate their ancestral villages, and should be read in conjunction with the Google Map showing the same Armenian settlements under their current Turkish names.

The table gives a) the names as transliterated from the Russian Cyrillic in Imperial Russian official publications, b) their Armenian names in standard transliteration and c) their modern Turkish names.

All errors are the blogger’s own. Additions and corrections are welcomed.

 

Russian name Armenian name Modern Turkish name
Kars Kars Kars
Zaim Zayim Harmanlı
Matsra Mazra Mezra
Dahskovo Dashkov Yalinkaya
Norashen    
Bulanikh Bulangh Bulanık
Kani-Key Ghani Gelirli
Karakala Karakala Merkezkarakale (Karakale)
Chermali Chermali Çerme
Berna Berna Koyunyurdu
Khas-Chiftlik Khas-Chiftlik Hasçiftlik
Gyarmali Gyarmali Kaynarlı
Giudali Gyodali Güdeli
Karakhach Garaghach Başkaya
Sogiutli-Abad Abat-Sogyutli Atayurdu
Chigirgyan Chghrdan Çığırgan
Khapanli Ghapanli Hapanlı
Bozgala Bozgala Bozkale
Begli-Akhmed Beghli-Ahmed Benliahmet
Orta-Kilisa Ortakilisa Ortalar
Kizil-Chakhchakh Kzil-Chaghchagh Akyaka (Garmirçağatsk)
Uzunkilisa Uzunkilisa Esenyayla
Aguzum Aghuzum Küçükaküzüm
Pirvali Pirvali Büyükpirveli (Eski Pirveli)
Odzhakh-Kuli Ojakh-Ghuli n/a (in Armenia)
Kiuruk-Dara Ghyurakdara, Gyurakdara Kürekdere
Paldirvan Paldrvan Duraklı
Parget (Bolshoy) Metz Parkit Büyükçatma
Bash-Shuragel Bash-Shoragyal Şetindurak
Tikhnis-Stariy Hin Tegniz Kalkankale
Tikhnis-Noviy Nor Tegniz Kalkankale
Ashaga-Kadiklyar Nerkin Gyadiklar Ayakgedikler
Bayrakhtar Bayraktar Bayraktar
Gamzakyarak Ghamzakyarak Hamzagerek
Gerkhana Gorghana Eşmeyazı
Araz-Ogli Arazi Arazoğlu
Dzhala Jala Esenkent
Adzham-Mavrak Acham Mavrak, Ajam-Mavrag Bekler
Karmirk-Vank Karmir Vank Yağıkesen
Koshevank Khoshavank n/a (in Armenia)
Kuyudzhuk Ghuyujugh Kuyucuk
Tazakent Tazakend Tazekent
Bash-Kadiklyar Bash Gyadiklar Başgedikler
Oguzli   Oğuzlu
Orta-Kadiklyar Orta Gyadiklar Ortagedikler
Agdzhakala Aghjaghala Akçakale
Kyadik-Satilmish Gyadik-Satlmish Gediksatilmiş
Parget (Maliy) Pokr Parkit Küçükçatma
Dolbant Dolbandlu Dölbentli
Baykara Bayghara Baykara
Bayburt Bayburt, Paypert Bayburt
Ortakala Ortaghala Ortakale
Sogiutli-Prut Brut-Sogyutlu Söğötlü
Yeski-Kazi, Eski-Kazi Aksi-Ghazi Eskigazi
Karamamed Gharamahmed n/a (in Armenia)
Bezirgyan Beyirgan Eskigeçit
Ardagan Ardahan Ardahan
Okam   Çayirbaşi
Urut Urut Bellitepe
Kagizman Kaghzvan Kağızman
Karabakh Gharabagh Karabağ
Kers Gers Günindi
Khar Khar Çallı
Yenidzha, Enidzha   Yenice
Karavank Gharavank Taşburun
Changli Chankli Çengilli
poselok Todan   Esenkır
Zirchi Zrchi Yağlıca
Pivik-Armyanskiy Bvik Karaboncuk
Laloy-Mavrak Laloy-Mavra Dolaylı
Pakran Bagaran Kilittaşi
Akryak Agarak Derinöz
Dzhalal Jalal Celal (Celalköy)
Zibni Tzpni Varlı
Digor Tikor Digor
Yelisavetinskoe,

Elisavetinskoe

Elisaveta  
Nakhichevan Nakhichevan Kocaköy
Kosha-Kilisa Ghoshakilisa Şehithalit
Khoperan Goberan Gecikmez
Shadevan Shatevan Belencik
Bashkey with poselok

Cholakhli and Kara-Pungar

Cholaghli and

Gharapunghar

Başköy, Çolaklı, Karapınar
Giulyantapa Gyulantara Beşyol
Sitagan Stahan Eşmeçayır
Akh-Kilisa Aghkilisa  
Armutli Armutlu Armutlu
Churuk Churuk Çardakçatı
Olti Olti Oltu
Dzhudzhurus Jurjuris Subatuk
Zardanes Zardanes Sarisaz
Tamrut Temrut Şendurak
Kubad-Yeriuk Yoruk Derebaşi
Akryak Agarak Sindiran
Pertus Bardus Zömrüt
Olor   Olur

 

 

This blog, concordance and map were first published on the bluebirdresearch website in 2011/12.

 

Armenian Karakala, Kars

Among the Californian Armenian community is a disproportionate number of descendants of immigrants from the small village of Karakala, or Kara-Kala, near Kars. On incoming American passenger lists and in naturalisation records, the place of origin of these immigrants will usually be shown as Russian Armenia, because the region around the city of Kars became the Russian Karsskaya oblast from 1878 to 1917. Before that period, the region was part of the Ottoman Empire and therefore a minority of US immigration records, especially for those Armenians born in Karakala before 1878, may state Turkey or Ottoman Empire, rather than Russia, as place of birth.

There is little to be found on the internet – at least, in the English language and of value to genealogists – about Karakala. There is confusion as to its exact whereabouts. The primary reason for this confusion is that the place name is not unique: there are multiple candidates. Furthermore, place names changed under modern Turkey and some Armenian villages were completely razed and have disappeared from the map. However, the true location of Armenian Karakala can be determined with confidence.

Imperial Russia, like other late 19th century empires, took a lively interest in demographics and ethnography (not least because nationalism needed to be monitored as the single biggest challenge to empire). Russian gazetteers of the period show the administrative geography (the hierarchy of local government from regional capital down to village), the population breakdown and usually something of the ethnicity (natsionalnost or nationality in Russian) of the inhabitants. The colossal 1897 Russian Census was a monument to just such a preoccupation with the population of empire.

Gazetteers for Kars oblast record the entire population down to the smallest villages of no more than 50 inhabitants. The Russian gazetteers for the 1900s and 1910s show consistently that there were nine places called Karakala in Kars oblast. However, Armenian Karakala – the source of the Californian immigrant population – is readily identified. Each of the various entries for the settlements named Karakala gives the nationality of its population. In this respect, while cities and towns in eastern Anatolia were usually of mixed population, the villages in the hinterland tended to be occupied by a single people. Only one of the nine places named Karakala had an Armenian population: of the remaining eight, seven were Muslim villages, identified carefully as Kurdish, Turcoman/Turkish and even Karapapak, and one a Yezidi village.

Under Russian rule, Armenian Karakala seems originally to have been classed as an obshestvo (community) in its own right, with the nearby Turkmen selo or village of Hadzhi-Halil subordinate to it, within the okrug (or district) of Magaradzhik (a Greek Orthodox village). However, later Karakala lost its obshestvo status and became simply a selo like Hadzhi-Halil in Magaradzhik obshestvo inMagaradzhik okrug. The other two villages in the immediate grouping were Azat (which was Greek Orthodox) and Kany-Kei (another Armenian settlement).

Across Kars oblast, the majority of Armenian settlements were growing rapidly during the years leading up to WW1, due to natural growth (families were large) and in-migration. Karakala was an exception to this trend. In 1902, the village comprised 464 souls (as they are described in the gazetteers) residing in 43 households; in 1908, 400 and in 1910 408; by 1914, it had 489 souls living in 79 homes. All were Armenian. The explanation for the mid-1900s dip and the otherwise relatively slow growth in population size and reduction in household size in Karakala is the significant emigration from the village to North America.

So where is Karakala? It is situated 17.5km SSE of Kars and is today called Merkezkarakale. The prefix Merkez (“central”) simply signifies its location in Kars Merkezi, or the central district of the Kars province of modern Turkey; this name was not used during either the Ottoman or Imperial Russian eras. 8km to the NNW is Azat; about 5km to the N is Magaradzhik, now called either Mağaracık  or Ataköy in Turkish; 5km to the NW is Kany-Kei, now known as Gelirli; and 2km to the S is Hadzhi-Halil, now spelt Hacıhalil in modern Turkish.

The first Google Map shows Armenian Karakala, marked with a yellow pin, in the context of the other Armenian settlements in Kars.

 

The second Google Map shows Armenian Karakala, marked with a yellow star instead of a pin, along with the non-Armenian villages named Karakala.

 

A third Google Map shows Armenian Karakala in the context of the surrounding villages of different ethnicity or nationality. The Armenian villages are marked with blue pins, and Karakala is the one marked with a blue star instead of a pin at the centre of the map.

 

There is an old photograph of the village of Armenian Karakala online:

Karakala old photo

Armenian Karakala – photo © molokane.org

If one studies Merkezkarakale in satellite view at high magnification on the  Google Map, one thing that is noticeable and common to both photograph and satellite image is the village’s linear structure – essentially it is a single street with plots to the left and right set back at different short distances from the road. Although 100 or more years may have passed, and the village will have been rebuilt and extended, and perhaps shifted its centre of gravity, its basic plan seems remarkably similar today. The axis of the village is NW to SE. The road in the satellite view, extending off to the right half way down the village street (heading roughly N), looks like a more organic recent development. The old photograph seems to have been shot from an elevation and may have been taken on the rising ground SE of the village.

Merkezkarakale

Merkezkarakale today, orientated to match old village photograph 

This is the only village named Karakala with a linear settlement plan in the former Kars oblast.If one looks at each of them in turn at high magnification on the Google Map, it will be seen that all of the others are organic, sometimes seemingly random, clusters of low buildings. Merkezkarakale is the only one with the planned look and feel of a linear village. It has been suggested that Armenian Karakala was built shortly after the Russian administration arrived in 1878; if so, then this would be consonant with the appearance of a “modern” rectilinear and planned layout.

It is not clear whether there are any surviving genealogical records for Karakala; and, if so, where they are held; and whether they cover both the Armenian Apostolic and the village’s burgeoning Armenian Protestant or Evangelical sect known as the “Jumpers” which generated many of the emigrants to California. The 1908 Kars oblast gazetteer explicitly describes the village as Armenian Protestant, so we know that the correct place has been identified.

Among the surnames of the original immigrant Armenian families with roots in Karakala are Katanian, Keosababian, Mooshagian, Nalian, Perumian, Shaharian and Stepanian.

This blog and the accompanying maps first appeared on the bluebirdresearch website in 2010 and 2011.

Russian Old Believers in Estonia

11 communities of Russian Old Believers (starovery) remain within the borders of modern Estonia. Nine of these are situated around the lake known in Estonian as Peipsi järv and to the Russians as Chudskoe: Kallaste, Kasepää, Kolkja (two parishes), Kükita, Mustvee, Piirissaar, Raja and Varnja. These are the Prichudie (“by Chudskoe”) parishes (there are, in addition, smaller settlements without a parish church). The other two communities are in the Estonian capital Tallinn and in the university town of Tartu.

Like the Amish in America, the Old Believers are a throwback to an earlier age, maintaining a life of simplicity and religious observance. Those in Estonia arrived in the late C17th, from cities such as Moscow and Novgorod, following persecution in the Russian heartland. An early monastery was established at Räpina but was destroyed in 1719. Persecution sought out the Old Believers again during the reign of the reactionary autocrat Tsar Nicholas I (1825-1855) and there was pressure to conform to the Russian Orthodox Church: Old Believers were forbidden to baptise, marry or bury according to their own rites. They were not officially recognised and tolerated until a religious freedom act of 1905.

The Prichudie communities were largely self-contained but had connections with co-religionists in, for example, Pskov and Moscow, and in Rīga and Vilnius. The inter-War independence of Estonia, and the drawing of an international border north to south bisecting Peipsi, made communication with communities in Soviet Russia difficult. The annexation of Estonia into the militantly atheist USSR created greater problems – for example, many Old Believers were deported to Siberia in March 1949, although some were able to return after the Thaw following the death of Stalin in 1953. Yet the Old Believers and their customs survived the turmoil of C20th and remain largely intact today in their fishing and onion-growing villages on the edge of Lake Peipsi in re-independent Estonia.

There is of course, as well as a population in Russia, an Old Believer diaspora abroad, in Canada, USA and Australia, established in the C19th and C20th. However, because of the various doctrinaire schisms within the starovery themselves, it is not clear how these often discrete communities are inter-related in family history terms and how many, if any, of these have direct kinship with the Estonian population. Records in state archives in Tartu and Tallinn appear to be extensive and there would seem to be good prospects for family history research for anyone knowing or believing themselves to have roots in this small but fascinating community.

The Google Map shows both the parishes and the Old Believer settlements without parish status.

 

The original version of this blog appeared on the bluebirdresearch site in 2010.

Setomaa – Seto communities in Estonia

Setomaa is a land that does not exist on maps, inhabited by the Seto, or Setu, a small nation which is both threatened by assimilation and experiencing something of a cultural renaissance.

It is divided by the border between Estonia and Russia.

On the Estonian side, the Seto live in Mikitimäe and Värska parishes in Põlvamaa, and in Meremäe and Misso parishes in Võrumaa. A traditional Seto settlement differs from an archetypal Estonian settlement in being a compact or linear village rather than a looser cluster of scattered dwellings and farmsteads. Also, the Seto are Russian Orthodox, rather than the typical Lutheran religion of Estonia, and worship in a distinctive wooden chapel known as a tsässon.

On the Russian side, the Seto live mainly between the towns of Petseri (Pechory in Russian) and Irboska (Izborsk in Russian), which lie on the western edge of Pskov oblast, part of the Northwestern Federal Okrug of Russia. The Seto are a recognised minority in Russia but this does not prevent assimilation. According to the 2002 census, only 197 Russian citizens declared themselves to be of Seto nationality (there were also some 28,113 Estonians). It is of course likely that some Seto stated that they were Estonian, or indeed Russian, or chose not to declare any nationality.

During Estonia’s first period of independence, from 1920 to 1940, however, before the German and then the Soviet occupation, all of Setomaa was in Estonia, in the then county of Petserimaa with its county town at Petseri. Petseri grew up around its monastery (now known as the Pskovo-Pechersky Dormition Monastery) which, as well as being the major landowner in Setomaa, was the spiritual centre of Russian Orthodoxy among the Seto.

Previously, before WW1, all of Setomaa was in the Pskov gubernia of the Russian Empire. For this reason, the population here did not acquire surnames as the Estonians did during the period from the 1810s to the 1830s. I have read that the Seto did not take surnames until 1921, before then using a simple Russian style combination of forename and otchestvo (patronymic). This date seems late but may well be true. After all, looking further west, not all Swedes had a surname as such until the Släktnamnslagen 1901 made fixed family names compulsory.

There must be a Seto diaspora. Possibly, it will be concentrated in Siberia and elsewhere across Russia, rather than in Australia, North America and Scandinavia. Presumably, Seto would have been among the June 1941 and March 1949 Soviet deportations of Estonians to Siberia and the descendants of those who survived and have not returned to Estonia might now live in the Ural and in the regions of Krasnoyarsk, Novosibirsk and Omsk in Siberia.

The Google Map shows the small communities in Estonia where the Seto reside – most of the mapped place names possess a tsässon, often of very modest dimensions. The two red pins indicate places on the Russian side of the border with known Seto residents; it is of course probable that Seto live silently in other places adjacent to Estonia.

 

A version of this blog was first posted on the bluebirdresearch website in 2010.

Yezidis in Kars Oblast

The Armenians, the Assyrians and the Greeks were not the only nationalities to be largely removed from Asia Minor as Turkey aggressively redefined itself as a single-nation state in the post-Ottoman era. The Yezidis (Yazidis) – Kurds with their own distinctive non-Islamic religion – have also disappeared, either being killed or converted to Islam, assimilating into the Kurdish population, or crossing the border into the Republic of Armenia (in more recent times, many have emigrated to continental Europe, particularly to Germany).

The Google Map shows the location of the former Yezidi villages of the Kars oblast or province of the Russian Empire circa 1910 before it was re-taken by the Turks after the end of WW1. During the Russian era (1878-1918), the distinctiveness of the Yezidi was recognised and these villages constituted their own administrative district or okrug. Many had arrived in the region during the 1880s, having been displaced from further west in Anatolia. The Yezidi population of Kars oblast was approximately 2,386 in 1892.

 

A version of this blog post and its accompanying map were first published by bluebirdresearch in 2011.