Sketches of the Hilly Dagistán, with Lesghi Tribes of the Eastern Chain of the Caucasus

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  • Sketches of the Hilly Dagistn, with Lesghi Tribes of the Eastern Chain of the CaucasusAuthor(s): Baron de BodeSource: Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Vol. 4, No. 3 (1859 - 1860),pp. 91-92Published by: Wiley on behalf of The Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of BritishGeographers)Stable URL: .Accessed: 13/05/2014 17:17

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    The second Paper read was

    2. Sketches of the Hilly Dagistan, with lesghi Tribes of the Eastern Chain of the Caucasus. BY BARON DE BODE.

    Communicated by DR. 1oE0MAS HODGKIN, M.D,, B.R.G.S.

    DAGISTAN is probably less known than the remaiIlder of the Cau- casian chain west of the Caspian. That part of the Gaucasus is split up into hill and dale, with oSshoots from the principal snowy range; but Dagistan is formed of stupendous barren granitic uasses, that form a high table-land, intersected by rapid streams. There are no roads in the country, nor do the foot-paths of the inhabitants serve, without difficulty, for beasts of burden. l'he small amolmt of cultivated ground that exists in DagistAn consists of small terraced gardens, hig;h on the hill sides, often at points very difficult of access.

    The ethnography of the Caucasus is exceedingly complicated, owing chiefly to its having been a thoroughfare to the hordes of Central Asia, and to the encroachments of surrounding races. Baron de Piode's paper is largely occupied with a discussion on the origin of the Lesghi of Dagistan7 who were under the sway of Schamyl, who are totally distinct from the Cherkesses (Circassians), and ale geographically separated from theln by the military road that joins Tiilis with Russia.

    The CHAIRMAN said the Society were exceedingly indebted to Baron de Bode for the account he had given of the interior of a country with which we were so little acqusinted. The contrast which he had drawn between the Tcherkess or Circassians, and the Lesahi of Dagistan was very strikina. This was not however, the first time the Society had been indebted to Baron de Bode. Many years aao he contributed a valuable paper on a portion of Persia to the south of the great Caucasian chain, the north-eastern parts of wllich he had described on the plesent occasion. Baron de Bode was so thoroucrhly acquainted with the habits of the people, and their lanjguaCe, that it was of great value to receive from him so vivid a description as they had just listened to. They had present an experienced English geoCrapher, General Monteith who, twenty-three or twenty-four years aao, explored this very reCion, and who had still many unpublished documents on the subject.

    GESERAL MONTEITG, F.R.G.S., observed that the narne of Daaist3n (simply Country of Mountains) would be applied by the inhabitants of the low country to any part of the Catlcasus; from which, he presumed, has arisen the mistake on the map of the locality of the Les rhi, whose country is particularly men- tioned as DaCistan, is bounded on the vest by the Aksi River, extendinffl to the Caspian on the east, to the north nearly to the Terik, and the south the frontier of Georgia, Kakhelia. Half-way between Derbend and Kislar is situated the town of Terki, formerly the capital of the Shum Khal or Chul, the great Lesfflhian confederaJtion. The four great divisiotls are the Kasi Kumaks, Kafer Kumaks (so called before their conversion to Mahomedanism) Avars, and Ah Kourhchey (svhite Falcons). All the Lesfflhi are comprised in tllese fotlr tribes, though many mised clans exist. There is considerable difference

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    in the lanCuace, but generally they llnderstand the Avar dialect. Their government is purely democratic, and the chiefs properly are elective. The arms made in Davistan are of a very sllperior quality, excellent rifles are manufactured, and exported to both Ttlrkey and Persia. l'heir country is hiChly cultivated very good cloth is made, and their cloahs, or yapoonchas are in general use in the neighbouring states of Persia, Georgia, and Turkey. Their schools furnish mullahs to the Caucasus generally. The place marked in the map as Dagistan is chiefly inhabited by the Chilchens, Kists, and other tribes of a distinct race. The troops of Dagistan are almost entirely infantry. Their cavalry are inferior and the only good horse are fiom the Tartar tribes of Yaksi and Yamout.

    The Circassians diSer entilely from the Lesghi. Their dress, habits, government and languave, have nothinC in common. The Circassians are a feudal peopie, with three classes of nobility, who serve generally as cavalry, which are of the best quality. From this people the best Mamelukes were (llawn, and they were the ;reat slave-dealers of this collntry. Some slaves of the Circassians, at a very early period, submitted to Russia, and served in their arn:wy. The Circassians became Mahomedans in the middle of the last century.

    Tenth Meeting, April 23rd, 1860.


    PRESENTATIONS.-Consut E. S. lSreeman; the Rev. T. W. Prackett; H. W. Peek; and W. Smith, C.E., Esqrs., were presented: upon their electzon.

    ELECTIONS.- Major-General Randall Rumley, Vice-Presiderlt of the Co?hncil of Military Education; Andrew ArcedecAne; Francis Black; James T. MacOnzie; Richard Baddulph Martan; Thomas Machell; Harry Norras (Coloniat OfXice); hrodysor6 Pratt; Robert Rantoul; Bengaman Coulson Robinsoal; and Alfred Sartoras, Esqrs., were elected Fellows.

    ANNOUNCEMENTS. It was announcecl that a communication had been received from Sir G. F. Bowen, F.R.G.S., Governor of Queens- land, stating that he had appointed Mr. Augustus a. Gregory (Gold Medallist, R.G.S.) AS Surve;or-General of Crown Lands for that colony. It was also announced that the Admiralty had granted, in accordance with the request of the Council, to Captains Speke and Grant a free passag;e to the Cape, en route to Zanzibar, in H.M.S. Forte, which would likewise convey his Excellency Sir G. Grey, F.R.G.S., and Admiral Sir H. Keppel to that station.

    EXHIBITIONS. A series of beautifully executed sketches in Texas and Mexico by the Abbe Domenech, six trears a resident in those countries, and some maps of the Swedish Government survey, were exhibited.

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    Article Contentsp. 91p. 92

    Issue Table of ContentsProceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Vol. 4, No. 3 (1859 - 1860), pp. 77-108South Australia: Exploring Expedition into the Interior of the Continent [pp. 77 - 79]Discovery of a New Harbour on the North-East Coast of Australia [pp. 79 - 86]Dr. Livingstone on Lakes Nyinyesi, or Nyassa and Shirwa, in Eastern Africa [pp. 87 - 90]Sketches of the Hilly Dagistn, with Lesghi Tribes of the Eastern Chain of the Caucasus [pp. 91 - 92]Expedition into the Interior of South Australia [p. 93]Voyage up the Darling and Barwan Rivers [pp. 94 - 97]On Typical Mountain Ranges [pp. 97 - 99]On a Possible Passage to the North Pole [p. 100]Communication with America, vi the Fares, Iceland, and Greenland [pp. 101 - 108]


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