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Tusheti

Tusheti

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Tusheti is a historic region in northeast Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

.

Geography


Located on the northern slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountains
Caucasus Mountains
The Caucasus Mountains is a mountain system in Eurasia between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea in the Caucasus region .The Caucasus Mountains includes:* the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range and* the Lesser Caucasus Mountains....

, Tusheti is bordered by the Russian republics of Chechnya
Chechnya
The Chechen Republic , commonly referred to as Chechnya , also spelled Chechnia or Chechenia, sometimes referred to as Ichkeria , is a federal subject of Russia . It is located in the southeastern part of Europe in the Northern Caucasus mountains. The capital of the republic is the city of Grozny...

 and Dagestan
Dagestan
The Republic of Dagestan is a federal subject of Russia, located in the North Caucasus region. Its capital and the largest city is Makhachkala, located at the center of Dagestan on the Caspian Sea...

 to the north and east, respectively; and by the Georgian historic provinces Kakheti
Kakheti
Kakheti is a historical province in Eastern Georgia inhabited by Kakhetians who speak a local dialect of Georgian. It is bordered by the small mountainous province of Tusheti and the Greater Caucasus mountain range to the north, Russian Federation to the Northeast, Azerbaijan to the Southeast, and...

 and Pshav-Khevsureti to the south and west, respectively. The population of the area is mainly ethnic Georgians
Georgian people
The Georgians are an ethnic group that have originated in Georgia, where they constitute a majority of the population. Large Georgian communities are also present throughout Russia, European Union, United States, and South America....

 called Tushs or Tushetians .

Historically, Tusheti comprised four mountain communities of the Alazani
Alazani
The Alazani is a river that flows through the Caucasus.It is the main tributary of the Kura in eastern Georgia, and flows for 351 km...

 Valley. These are Tsova, Gometzari, Chaghma and the Piriq’iti Tusheti (formerly known as Pharsman's Tusheti). Included in the present day Akhmeta
Akhmeta
Akhmeta is a town in the Kakheti province of Georgia. It is the home for Zurab Zviadauri, gold medalist in judo.In some parts of southern Germany the term 'Achmeta!' has become a common interjection for expressing disappointment or frustration....

 raioni, Kakheti
Kakheti
Kakheti is a historical province in Eastern Georgia inhabited by Kakhetians who speak a local dialect of Georgian. It is bordered by the small mountainous province of Tusheti and the Greater Caucasus mountain range to the north, Russian Federation to the Northeast, Azerbaijan to the Southeast, and...

 region, Georgia, the area comprises ten villages with Omalo
Omalo
Omalo is a principal village the Tusheti province of Georgia. It lies between the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range and the Pirikita Range of Tusheti...

 being the largest.

History



The area is thought to have long been inhabited by the Tush
Tush
Tush may refer to:*subgroup of Georgians Tushs or Tushetians*A slang term for the buttocks*Any of the canine teeth of a horse*Tush, the Bats language of the Bats people, who live in Tusheti*Tush , a song by ZZ Top from their album Fandango!...

, a subgroup of Georgians, which themselves divide into two groups- the Chagma-Tush (Georgian name, used for Tush who speak the local Georgian dialect) and Tsova-Tush (Nakh-speaking Tush, better known as Bats or Batsbi
Bats people
The Bats people or the Batsbi are a small Nakh-speaking community in the country of Georgia who are also known as the Ts’ova-Tush after the Ts’ova Gorge in the historic Georgian province of Tusheti , where they are believed to have settled after migrating from the North Caucasus in the 16th...

). It is uncertain whether ethnic Georgians were there first or whether Bats were. There are two major theories on the origins of the Bats (with various variations).

One is that the Bats are the remnant of a larger Nakh-speaking people, shrunk be assimilation to the Georgian language. One candidate is the Kakh, a historical people living in Kakheti and Tusheti (who apparently called themselves Kabatsa). However, the belief that the Kakh were originally Nakh is not widely held. The Georgian name for the Bats, the Tsova-Tush, may also (or instead) be linked to the Tsov, a historical Nakh people claimed by the Georgian historian Melikishvilli to have ruled over the Kingdom of Sophene
Kingdom of Sophene
The Kingdom of Sophene was an ancient Armenian kingdom. Founded around the 3rd century BC the kingdom maintained independence until 90s BC when Tigranes the Great conquered these territories as part of his empire...

 in Urartu (called Tsobena in Georgian) who were apparently forcefully moved to the region around Erebuni
Erebuni
Erebuni may refer to:*Erebuni Fortress, the fortress of ancient kingdom of Urartu, now territory of Armenia*Yerevan, capital of Armenia*Erebuni, Armenia, a district of Yerevan*Erebuni Museum*Erebuni Airport...

, a region linked to Nakh peoples by place names and various historiography (see Nakh peoples
Nakh peoples
Nakh peoples are a group of historical and modern ethnic groups speaking Nakh languages and sharing certain cultural traits...

 for more info). However, theories linking the Bats to Transcaucasian peoples are not universally accepted (see below).
The second theory has it that the Batsbi crossed the Greater Caucasus range from Ingushetia in the seventeenth century and eventually settled in Tusheti, and that they are therefore a tribe of Ingush origin which was christianized and "Georgianized" over the centuries. However, this latter theory is somewhat awkward with regard to the fact that, linguistically, the Bats language (within the Nakh family) is much more distinct from Chechen and Ingush than they are from each other, having differentiated from them much longer ago than the 17th century (when Chechen and Ingush began differentiating, approximately, was in fact during the 15th century, but they are far more similar), and forms a completely different branch. However, this does not necessarily render the theory to be completely non-plausible, it simply renders the timing awkward.

King Levan of Kakheti
Levan of Kakheti
Levan also known as Leon , of the Bagrationi Dynasty, was a king of Kakheti in eastern Georgia from 1518/1520 to 1574. He presided over the most prosperous and peaceful period in the history of the Kingdom of Kakheti.- Biography :...

 (1520–1574) apparently granted the Bats official ownership of the lands in the Alvani Valley in exchange for their military service. Bats-speaking inhabitants of Tusheti are known to the local Georgians as the Tsova-Tushs, they have a high degree of assimilation and are typically bilingual using both Georgian and their own Bats language
Bats language
Bats is the language of the Bats people, a Caucasian minority group, and is part of the Nakh family of Caucasian languages. It had 2,500 to 3,000 speakers in 1975....

s. Nowadays, Bats is spoken only in a village Zemo Alvani. Anthropological studies on the Tsova-Tush found them to be somewhere in between the Chechen-origin Kists and the Chagma-Tush of the region, but significantly closer to the Chagma-Tush.
The Bats have considered themselves Georgian by nation for a long period of time, and have been speaking Georgian for a while as well. The process of assimilation of the Bats continues, but many Bats have held on to their language
Bats language
Bats is the language of the Bats people, a Caucasian minority group, and is part of the Nakh family of Caucasian languages. It had 2,500 to 3,000 speakers in 1975....

 and spoken Georgian as well, accounting for the massive Georgian influence on their language. They are Georgian Orthodox Christians. Many of the Georgians of Tusheti as well as regions south of it may be of Kakh origin as well, judging from highly divergent genetics- A study headed by Georgian scientist Nasidze on Caucasian groups showed that Georgians of the Northeast of their country were hugely different from the rest.

Pagan Georgians from Pkhovi
Pkhovi
Pkhovi , also known as Pkhoet'i , is a medieval term for the mountainous district in northeast Georgia comprising the latter-day provinces of Pshavi and Khevsureti along the upper reaches of the Aragvi, and in three alpine valleys just north of the main crest of the Greater Caucasus...

 took refuge in the uninhabited mountains during their rebellion against Christianization implemented by the Iberian
Caucasian Iberia
Iberia , also known as Iveria , was a name given by the ancient Greeks and Romans to the ancient Georgian kingdom of Kartli , corresponding roughly to the eastern and southern parts of the present day Georgia...

 king Mirian III
Mirian III of Iberia
Mirian III was a king of Iberia , contemporaneous to the Roman emperor Constantine I .According to the early medieval Georgian annals and hagiography, Mirian was the first Christian king of Iberia, converted through the ministry of Nino, a Cappadocian female missionary...

 in the 330s. Subsequently, they were forcibly converted to Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 and subdued by the Georgian kings.

Regarding the relationship between the Nakh (Tsova) and Georgian (Chagma) Tushians, the "Red Book", states the following:

For centuries there have been two communities next to each other in Tushetia, one speaking the Nakh language, the other Old Georgian. The general name for them is tush, according to their language either Tsova- or Chagma-Tushian. They formed one single material and intellectual unit with Old Georgian elements prevailing.



The descendants of the Old Georgian pagan tribes, whose ancestors had fled from Christianity to Tushetia, are regarded as Tushians. In the mountains some of the fugitives splintered off from other Old Georgian tribes. They were in close contact with the Nakh tribes which resulted in a new linguistic unit.


After the collapse of the unified Georgian monarchy, Tusheti came under the rule of Kakheti
Kakheti
Kakheti is a historical province in Eastern Georgia inhabited by Kakhetians who speak a local dialect of Georgian. It is bordered by the small mountainous province of Tusheti and the Greater Caucasus mountain range to the north, Russian Federation to the Northeast, Azerbaijan to the Southeast, and...

an kings in the fifteenth century.
During the German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 invasion
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

 of Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, a minor anti-Soviet revolt took place in the area in 1942-1943, seemingly linked to the similar but more large-scale events in the neighbouring Ingushetia
Ingushetia
The Republic of Ingushetia is a federal subject of Russia , located in the North Caucasus region with its capital at Magas. In terms of area, the republic is the smallest of Russia's federal subjects except for the two federal cities, Moscow and Saint Petersburg...

.

Culture



Traditionally, the Tushs are sheep herders. Tushetian Gouda (cheese)
Gouda (cheese)
Gouda is an orange cheese made from cow's milk. The cheese is named after the city of Gouda in the Netherlands, but its name is not protected. However, the European Commission has confirmed that "Gouda Holland" is to be protected...

cheese and high quality wool was famous and was exported to Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

. Even today sheep and cattle breeding is the leading branch of the economy of highland Tusheti. The local shepherds spend the summer months in the highland areas of Tusheti but live in the lowland villages of Zemo Alvani and Kvemo Alvani in wintertime. Their customs and traditions are similar to those of other eastern Georgian mountaineers (see Khevsureti
Khevsureti
Khevsureti/Khevsuria is a historical-ethnographic region in eastern Georgia. They are the branch of Kartvelian people located along both the northern and southern slopes of the Great Caucasus...

).

One of the most ecologically unspoiled regions in the Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

, Tusheti is a popular mountain-trekking venue.

Pork
Pork
Pork is the culinary name for meat from the domestic pig , which is eaten in many countries. It is one of the most commonly consumed meats worldwide, with evidence of pig husbandry dating back to 5000 BC....

 is tabooed in Tusheti. Farmers will not raise pigs
PIGS
PIGS is a four letter acronym that can stand for:* PIGS , Phosphatidylinositol glycan anchor biosynthesis, class S, a human gene* PIGS , the economies of Portugal, Italy , Greece and Spain...

and travelers are usually advised to not bring any pork into the region. Locals will however eat pork themselves when not in Tusheti.

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