Circassians

(1994)  Circassians.  Encyclopedia of World Cultures, David Levinson (ed.), vol. 6, Inner Eurasia and China, Paul Friedrich and Norma Diamond (eds.), Boston, Massachusetts: G. K. Hall & Co. 

ETHNONYMS. Adyghe, Circassians, Kabardians, Cherkess (Tscherkess), Dzhigets, Ubykhs (Oubykhs).

ORIENTATION. Identification. The Circassians and their close kinsmen, the Ubykhs, all call themselves Adyghe (three syllables). They originally inhabited an area of the northwestern Caucasus, though after the Russian conquest of 1864 fully half of them immigrated to the Ottoman Empire. Today they live not only in their original homeland, but also in scattered groups in Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Israel and Yugoslavia, with small communities in Europe and North America (New Jersey, New York, and California). Within the Soviet Union they are found, going from west to east, in and around the Adyghej Republic (also known as Adygheja), the Karachay-Cherkess Republic, and the Kabardino-Balkar Republic, all three being federated with the Russian Republic. In Adygheja they share their territory with Ukrainians, in the Karachay-Cherkess Republic with Ukrainians, the Turkic Karachay and the Northwest Caucasian Abazas, and in the Kabardino-Balkar Republic with Great Russians and the Turkic Balkar. Racially they are of varied European type. In certain tribes there is a high incidence of blue eyes and blond or red hair, while others have dark hair with light complexions. Some groups show a propensity toward long aquiline faces and dolichocephalic heads, whereas others tend toward round faces and brachycephaly. Many have almond shape eyes and fine features. Epicanthic eye-folds are common. Their physical variety attests to their long and varied history.

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