1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Kabardia

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KABARDIA, a territory of S. Russia, now part of the province of Terek. It is divided into Great and Little Kabardia by the upper river Terek, and covers 3780 sq. m. on the northern slopes of the Caucasus range (from Mount Elbruz to Pasis-mta, or Edena), including the Black Mountains (Kara-dagh) and the high plains on their northern slope. Before the Russian conquest it extended as far as the Sea of Azov. Its population is now about 70,000. One-fourth of the territory is owned by the aristocracy and the remainder is divided among the auls or villages. A great portion is under permanent pasture, part under forests, and some under perpetual snow. Excellent breeds of horses are reared, and the peasants own many cattle. The land is well cultivated in the lower parts, the chief crops being millet, maize, wheat and oats. Bee-keeping is extensively practised, and Kabardian honey is in repute. Wood-cutting and the manufacture of wooden wares, the making of búrkas (felt and fur cloaks), and saddlery are very general. Nalchik is the chief town.

The Kabardians are a branch of the Adyghè (Circassians). The policy of Russia was always to be friendly with the Kabardian aristocracy, who were possessed of feudal rights over the Ossetes, the Ingushes, the Abkhasians and the mountain Tatars, and had command of the roads leading into Transcaucasia. Ivan the Terrible took Kabardia under his protection in the 16th century. Later, Russian influence was counterbalanced by that of the Crimean khans, but the Kabardian nobles nevertheless supported Peter the Great during his Caucasian campaign in 1722–23. In 1739 Kabardia was recognized as being under the double protectorate of Russia and Turkey, but thirty-five years later it was definitively annexed to Russia, and risings of the population in 1804 and 1822 were cruelly suppressed. Kabardia is considered as a school of good manners in Caucasia; the Kabardian dress sets the fashion to all the mountaineers. Kabardians constitute the best detachment of the personal Imperial Guards at St Petersburg.

A short grammar of the Kabardian language and a Russian-Kabardian dictionary, by Lopatinsky, were published in Sbornik Materialov dla Opisaniya Kavkaza (vol. xii., Tiflis, 1891). Fragments of the poem “Sosyruko,” some Persian tales, and the tenets of the Mussulman religion were printed in Kabardian in 1864, by Kazi Atazhukin and Shardanov. The common law of the Kabardians has been studied by Maxim Kovalevsky and Vsevolod Miller.