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The Bezhtians

The BezhtiansThe Bezhtians also known as the Bezhtinians (their self-name), the Kh'vanal, which in the Avarian means 'a horseman', the Kapucha (in the Georgian). They belong to the Tsezsky nations and they are indigenous population of the Western Daghestan. They live also in Georgia (1 thousand persons). A total number of the Bezhtians is 9 thousand persons.

Their native language is the Bezhtian. The Avarian, Russian, Georgian, Tsezsian, Gunzibian, and Ginukhian languages are also common. Writing is in the Avarian language based on the Russian writing. The Benzhtians are the Moslems - Sunni by the religion. In their ethnic territory they live from the 2nd part of the first millennium AD.

In the Soviet time part of the Benzhtians has moved onto the Kumyk plain, between the river Terek and Sulak. The traditional occupations are a cattle breeding and agriculture (barley, rye, wheat, oat, legumes, garlic, tobacco). In the Soviet period the cereal acreage has increased, and the gardening and vegetable growing have received development (mainly on the Kumyk plain).

The Bezhtian family is usually small. There were forms of the undivided families in 1930th-1940th. The importance of patriarchal associations (Tukhum) is still great. The Bezhtians were organized in communities (Jamaat). Traditions of the family and funeral ceremonialism; customs of respect of elders, mutual aid, hospitality, and friendship are remain.

Men's traditional clothes are trousers, a shirt, beshmet, the Circassian coat, a jacket, a felt cloak, sheepskin coats and hats, knitted wool boots, leather, felt footwear on the wood sole. Until the 2nd half of the 19th century the Bezhtian men carried a dagger and a knife on the belt. They have shaved a head, leaving moustaches and a beard. Women wear various dresses - shirts, dresses, long trousers, a cloth belt, a cap - (chukhta), scarves, shawls, and various silver decorations. Women's footwear was the same as men's.

Traditional food is a flour and meat-and-milk products: various khinkaly, unleavened and sour bread, a dough from an oatmeal, porridges, soups, boiled meat, cheese, pies. Muslim and calendar holidays are celebrated. Proverbs, sayings, songs, ballads, fairy tales, lullabies etc. are transferred on in the Avarian and Bezhtian languages.

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