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

 

Download  |  Go to Issue #4. 2021

 

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)

 

REFERENCES

  • Biguaa V. L. Ritualnyi mir traditsionnoi religii abkhazov [The Ritual World of the Traditional Religion of Abkhazians]. Moscow: MAKS Press, 2018. (In Russian)
  • Chursin G. F. Ocherki po etnologii Kavkaza [Essays on Caucasian Ethnology]. Moscow: Librokom, 2012. (In Russian)
  • Dzhanashiya N. Abkhazskii kul't i byt [The Abkhazian Cult and Everyday Life]. Petrograd: Tipografiia Akademii Nauk, 1917. (In Russian)
  • Inal-ipa Sh. D. Abkhazy [Abkhazians]. Sukhumi: Alashara, 1965. (In Russian)
  • Inal-ipa Sh. D. Voprosi etno-kul’turnoi istorii abkhazov [Issues of the Ethnic and Cultural History of the Abkhazians]. Sukhumi: Alashara, 1976. (In Russian)
  • Kashezhev T. Hantseguashe (obshchestvennoe molenie ob urozhae u kabardintsev) [Hanzeguashe (The Public Kabardian Prayer for the Harvest)]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie, 1900, no. 2, pp. 173–176. (In Russian)
  • Kazharov V. H. Adygskaia Khasa. Iz istorii soslovno-predstavitel'nykh uchrezhdenii feodal'noi Cherkesii [The Adyghe Khasa. From the History of the Class-Representative Institutions of Feudal Circassia]. Kazharov V. H. Izbrannye trudy po istorii i etnografii adygov [Selected Works on the History and Ethnography of the Adige]. Nal'chik: Pechatnii dvor, 2014, pp. 54–182. (In Russian)
  • Kuprava A. E. Voprosi traditsionnoi kul’tury abkhazov [Issues of the Traditional Culture of the Abkhazians]. Sukhum: Dom pechati, 2008. (In Russian)
  • Lakoba S. Z. Ocherki politicheskoi istorii Abkhazii [Essays on the Political History of Abkhazia]. Sukhumi: Alashara, 1990. (In Russian)
  • Maan O. V. Abzhua. Istoriko-etnologicheskie ocherki [Abzhua. Historical and Ethnographic Essays]. Sukhum: Dom pechati, 2006. (In Russian)
  • Mauss M. Ocherki o prirode i funktsii zhertvoprinosheniia [Essays on the Nature and Function of Sacrifice]. Sotsial'nye funktsii sviashchennogo. Izbrannye proizvedeniia [Social Functions of the Sacred. Selected Works]. Ed. by I. V. Utekhin. St. Petersburg: Eurasia, 2000, pp. 9–107. (In Russian)
  • Musukaev A. I., Pershic A. I. Narodnye traditsii kabardintsev i balkartsev [The Folk Traditions of Kabardins and Balkars]. Nal'chik: Polygrafkombinat imeni Revolutsii 1905 goda, 1992. (In Russian)
  • Popova Yu. V. Simvoly v sezonnykh obriadakh sel'skikh obshchin Korei (konets XIX — nachalo XX v.) [Symbols in the Seasonal Rites of Rural Communities in Korea (Late 19th–Early 20th Centuries)]. Etnograficheskoe izuchenie znakovykh sredstv kultury [Ethnographic Studies of the Symbolic Means of Culture]. Leningrad: Nauka, 1989, pp. 180–205. (In Russian)
  • Prasolov D. N. Kabardinskaia sel'skaia obshchina vo vtoroi polovine XIX — nachale XX vv. [The Kabardian Rural Community in the Second Half of the 19th–Early 20th Centuries]: PhD diss. Nal’chik, 2001. (In Russian)
  • Shakryl K. S. Lykhnenskoe sviatilishche [The Lykhna Sanctuary]. Izvestiia, 1980, no. IX,pp. 116–119. (In Abkhazian)
  • Shortanov A. T. Adygskie kul'ty [The Adyghe Cults]. Nal’chik: Elbrus, 1992. (In Russian)
  • Vasil'kov V. V. Ocherk byta temirgoevtsev [Essay on the Life of the Temirgoevs]. Sbornik materialov dlia opisaniia mestnostei i plemen Kavkaza [Collection of Materials for the Description of Localities and Tribes of the Caucasus]. Tiflis: Upravlenie Kavkazskago Uchebnago Okruga, 1901, vol. XXIX, pp. 71–122. (In Russian)