Damir Guagov & Asker Sapiev: Adyge Oredyzhkher (Adyg/Circassian Music)

74th release from Antonovka Records

“Adyge oredyzhkher” means “old Adyg songs.” The album, however, consists mainly of tunes without words and also includes several relatively modern compositions.

Adyg (Adyge, Adyghe), Circassians (Cherkess) and Kabardians are branches of one people, they all call themselves “Adyge,” and from the outside they are collectively known as Circassians.

Damir Guagov and Asker Sapiev are musicians from Maykop, the capital of the Republic of Adygea. Damir is a shichepshinao and pshinao, that is, a player of shichepshina and pshina. Shichepshina is the traditional Adyg vertical fiddle, pshina is the Adyg name for button accordion. Asker is a phachichao (the phachich is the traditional pair rattle).

The recording of the album was made possible thanks to Zamudin Guchev, Honored Artist of the Republic of Adygea, and researcher and keeper of the Adyg traditions.

Lyrics language: Adyghe (5, 14), Russian (4, 13).

Recorded at Zamudin’s home, Gaverdovsky hamlet, Maykop, Republic of Adygea, July 17, 2020.

Thanks to Zamudin, Damir and Asker.

Source: Antonovka Records, Facebook, 10 May 2022. Embedded recording courtesy of the Antonovka Records Bandcamp page

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The Circassian genocide, or Tsitsekun, was the Russian Empire’s systematic mass murder, ethnic cleansing, and expulsion of 80–97%of the Circassian population, around 800,000–1,500,000 people, during and after the Russo-Circassian War (1763–1864). The peoples planned for removal were mainly the Circassians, but other Muslim peoples of the Caucasus were also affected. Several methods used by Russian forces such as impaling and tearing the bellies of pregnant women were reported. Russian generals such as Grigory Zass described the Circassians as “subhuman filth”, and glorified the mass murder of Circassian civilians, justified their use in scientific experiments, and allowed their soldiers to rape women.

During the Russo-Circassian War, Russian Empire employed a genocidal strategy of massacring Circassian civilians. Only a small percentage who accepted Russification and resettlement within the Russian Empire were completely spared. The remaining Circassian population who refused were variously dispersed or killed en masse. Circassian villages would be located and burnt, systematically starved, or their entire population massacred. Leo Tolstoy reports that Russian soldiers would attack village houses at night. Sir Pelgrave, a British diplomat who witnessed the events, adds that “their only crime was not being Russian.”

In 1864, “A Petition from Circassian leaders to Her Majesty Queen Victoria” was signed by the Circassians requesting humanitarian aid from the British Empire. In the same year, mass deportation was launched against the surviving population before the end of the war in 1864 and it was mostly completed by 1867. Some died from epidemics or starvation among the crowds of deportees and were reportedly eaten by dogs after their death. Others died when the ships underway sank during storms. Calculations, including taking into account the Russian government’s own archival figures, have estimated a loss of 80–97% of the Circassian population in the process. The displaced people were settled primarily to the Ottoman Empire.

Sources state that as many as 1 to 1.5 million Circassians were forced to flee in total, but only a half could make it to land. Ottoman archives show nearly 1 million migrants entering their land from the Caucasus by 1879, with nearly half of them dying on the shores as a result of diseases. If Ottoman archives are correct, it would make it the biggest genocide of the 19th century, and indeed, in support of the Ottoman archives, the Russian census of 1897 records only 150,000 Circassians, one tenth of the original number, still remaining in the now-conquered region.

As of 2021, Georgia was the only country to recognize the Circassian genocide. Russia actively denies the Circassian genocide, and classifies the events as a migration (Russian: Черкесское мухаджирство, lit. ’Circassian migrationism’). Some Russian nationalists in the Caucasus region continue to celebrate the day when the Circassian deportation was launched, 21 May (O.S), each year as a “holy conquest day”. Circassians commemorate 21 May every year as the Circassian Day of Mourning commemorating the Circassian genocide. On 21 May, Circassians all over the world protest against the Russian government, especially in cities with large Circassian populations such as Kayseri and Amman, as well other big cities such as Istanbul.

Source: Wikipedia