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The Kabards

The KabardsKabard society has a strong hierarchical division, and strong traditions of a separate nobility.
The Kabards are themselves a sub-group of the Circassian peoples, together with Adygey and Cherkess and Abazas.

The language is closely related to Cherkess, Adyge.
They live in the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, Krasnodarsky Kray, Stavropolsky Kray, North-Ossetia.
Religion: Sunni-muslims
Diaspora: South East Asia, Western Europe, North America.

Most likely, the Kabards are descended from a cluster of Caucasian tribes who called themselves Adygey. They originated in the Kuban basin, adopted Christianity in the 12th c. They were pressed eastward by the invasion of the Mongol Golden Horde in the 13th c. Some of the Adygey mixed with local Alan peoples (from whom the Ossetians developed), and eventually became known as the Kabards. By the 15th c., the region on the left bank of the Terek river became known as Greater Kabardia, while the region on the right bank was known as little Kabardia. Those living in the westernmost parts became known as the Cherkess.
Early in the 16th c., the Kabards came in contact with th Ottomans through the Crimean Khanate, and by the early 1800s they had converted to Sunni Islam.

In 1739, the Treaty of Belgrade established Kabardia as a neutral state, a buffer zone, between the Ottomans and Russia. In 1774, Kabardia became Russian territory through the Treaty of Kucuk Kainavci. During the mid-19th c., when the Shamil Revot against Russia spread throughout the Caucasus, the Kabards maintained neutrality. But still, after the Russians had established firm control over the region in the 1860s, there was a mass exodus of Kabards to Turkey.

The early Soviet period brought many changes to the Kabards and the other Circassian peoples, as the region became heavily industrialised, and due to Bolshevik campaigns against Islam.

Before the Bolshevik Revolution, the Kabards were generally lumped together with the Adygey and the Cherkess as a Circassian people, but in the 1920s, the Circassians were redefined by the Soviets into two ethnic groups, the Cherkess and the Kabards. Late in the 1930s, Soviet authorities again redrew the ethnic lines subdividing the Circassians, now creating three groups - Adygey in the west, Cherkess in the middle and Kabards in the east. In 1921, the autonomous territory of Kabardino-Balkaria was created, and in 1936 it was upgraded to an autonomous republic. The administrative borders thus separated the Kabards from the other Circassians, the Cherkess and the Adygey.

Kabardino-Balkaria was occupied by the Germans from 1943 to -44, and when the Red Army recaptured the area, many Balkars were deported, accused of collaborating with the Germans. The Kabard population was never deported.

The Kabards did not develop serious anti-Russian hostility in the 18th and 19th c. Their Muslim loyalty was much weaker than that of other groups in the Caucasus, and they have not developed a strong sense of pan-Islamic identity. Their national identity, however, is fairly strong compared to neighboring peoples.

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