Zelnitskaya R. On One of the Collective Rainmaking Rituals among the Abkhazians and Kabardians of the Late Nineteenth–Early Twentieth Centuries

Ritsa Zelnitskaya (Shlarba)
Russian Museum of Ethnography
Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation
E-mail: riza81@yandex.ru


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ABSTRACT. The reports of Russian and Abkhazian early twentieth-century ethnographers allow us to reconstruct the specific rites that constituted the rainmaking ritual practiced by the two neighboring peoples of the North Caucasus, Abkhazians and Kabardians. Despite the imperial policy of forced transformation of the structures of traditional societies and the numerous attempts to oust pre-Islamic and pre-Christian beliefs from their communal life, which had been being undertaken since the 1860s–1870s, the Abkhaz and Kabardian materials from the early twentieth century testify to the stability of traditional rites related to agricultural and calendar cycles, and to the minimal integration of foreign elements. The article pays special attention to the role of the clergy in the rainmaking ceremonies. The Kabardian and Abkhazian societies were different in terms of their attitudes towards the clergy and their role in conducting rites. In Kabarda, the key role was played by the effendi, and in Abkhazia by the local old worshippers. While in Kabarda the mullahs focused on monitoring the “religiosity and morality” and could defiantly ignore the rites, in the Abkhazian society priests did not have sufficient authority and were forced to participate in public rites, remaining in the shadow of the old men who performed the roles of priests.


KEYWORDS: Abkhazians, agriculture, communal prayer, rainmaking, Islam, Kabardians, Orthodox Christianity, paganism, seasonal ritual


DOI 10.31250/2618-8619-2021-4(14)-133-140
УДК 39(=352.2/3)



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