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Circassia 1840

Circassians is a term derived from the Turkic Cherkess (Çerkes). Generically it refers to the Caucasian peoples of northwest Caucasus. It might be understood in a narrower sense (including Adyghe, Cherkes, Shapsugs and Kabardin), or in a broader sense (including also Abkhaz, Abazins, and Ubykh, the latter linguistically vanished). The term is not the self-designation of any of these people. Today a significant number of "Circassians" live in diaspora.

The term's vagueness stems largely from the fact that the northern Caucasus was a remote and relatively unknown area for Westerners and Turks, who often did not distinguish carefully among similar groups living in the area.

Circassian diaspora

From 1763 to 1864, the Circassians fought against the Russians in the Russian-Circassian War only succumbing to a scorched earth campaign initiated in 1862 under General Yevdokimov. Afterwards, large numbers of Circassians were exiled and deported to the Ottoman Empire; others were resettled in Russia far from their home territories.

Middle East

Circassians began arriving in the Levant in the 1860s and 1870s through resettlement by the Ottoman Empire. Even today, various communities of Caucasian origin living in the Middle East, notably Jordanmarker and Syriamarker and small communities in Israelmarker, are known as Circassians, and a suburb of Damascusmarker settled by these people is called Al-charkassiyya. Modern Ammanmarker was reborn after Circassians settled there in 1878 or 1887 along with other important Pre-Jordanian towns, and the first wave of Circassians who settled in Amman was from the Shapsug-Shapsigh tribe, and as a result the first four Mayors of Amman (1905–1920) were Circassians, before the establishment of Transjordanmarker by the Hashemite Emir Abdullah. The Circassians were strong supporters of the Emir, hand by hand with the Jordanian Beduin tribes.During the French Mandate period in Syriamarker, in the 1930s, some Circassians in the mostly Circassian town of Al-Quneitramarker tried to convince the French authorities to create a Circassian national home for them in the Golan Heightsmarker, but failed in their attempt . The objective was to group the large numbers of Circassians already living in Turkeymarker and in various Middle Eastern countries such as Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt.

In Israelmarker, there are also a few thousand Circassians (see also Circassians in Israel), living mostly in Kfar Kamamarker (2,000) and Rehaniyamarker (1,000). These two villages were a part of a greater group of Circassian villages around the Golan Heightsmarker. As is the case with Jewish Israelis, and like the Druze population living within Israel (but not those living on the Golan Heights), Circassian men must complete mandatory military service upon reaching the age of majority. Many circassians in Israel are employed in the security forces, including in the Border Guard, the Israel Defence Forces, the police and the Israel Prison Service

In Syriamarker, the Circassians lived in the Golan Heights. After the 1967 Arab-İsraeli war, they withdrew further into Syria, specifically to Damascus. Some petitioned the U.S. in the mid-1970s for asylum. The U.S. allowed some of them to immigrate to America. They settled in New Jerseymarker and New York Citymarker. After the Yom Kippur War two Syrian Circassian villages came back under Syrian control and some of the villagers started rebuilding their houses. Now two villages Beer Ajammarker and Barika are the only remaining Circassian villages in the Golan Heightsmarker.

The Circassians in Syriamarker are generally well off. Many of them work for the government, in civil service, or for the military. The former Syrian interior minister and director of the military police, Bassam Abdel Majeed, was a Circassian. All Circassians learn Arabic and English in school; many speak Adyghe language, but their numbers are dwindling. One kindergarten in Damascus provides Adyghe language education. However there are no Circassian newspapers, and few Circassian books are printed in Syria.

The Circassians of Syria were actively involved in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Their unit was under the leadership of Jawad Anzor. 200 Circassians were killed in action. They performed well, but the overall failure of the resistance to stop the Israeli victory led to the special Circassian unit being disbanded.

Cultural events play an important role in maintaining the ethnic identity of the Circassians. During holidays and weddings, they perform folk dances and songs in their traditional dress. As of 1987, approximately 100,000 Circassians lived in Syria.

Eastern Europe

Around 1600, a number of immigrants from the Caucasus region, of somewhat privileged background, settled in the then Principality of Moldavia, and became known by the name "Cerchez" (pronounced [Cherkez] in Romanian). There, they constituted one of the principality's 72 boyar families. In time they were assimilated into the general population. However, one of the last descendants of this family, Mihail Christodulo Cerchez, was a Romanian national hero in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878 (Osman Paşa, the Turkish commander of the Plevenmarker garrison, who was an Adyge himself, surrendered his sword to Cerchez at the end of the siegemarker). One of the main halls of the Cotrocenimarker palace in Bucharestmarker is named "Sala Cerchez" ("Cerchez Hall") in memory of General Cerchez.

A small minority of Circassians had lived in Kosovo Poljemarker since the late 1880s, as mentioned by Noel Malcolm in his seminal work about that province, but they were repatriated to the Republic of Adygeamarker in southern Russiamarker in the late 1990s.


In the recent study titled "Worldwide Human Relationships Inferred from Genome-Wide Patterns of Variation (2008)", geneticists using more than 650,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) samples from the Human Genome Diversity Panel, found that the Adygei (Adyghe) Circassian population has mixed lineages from Central/South Asian, and European populations.

Notable Circassians

  • Orhan Pamuk - A famous Circassian Turkish writer. He is the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2006
  • Prince Adel Ciry - A Circassian Mujahid Prince from Qaberdey Circassian tribe - He was one of the biggest agents of Imam Mansour in his struggle against the Russian invasion of the North Caucasus
  • Prince Ashaghwa ghwa Pshighwy- A Circassian prince and commander of militant against the Russian occupation of Circassia ( North Caucasus) in the 19th century
  • Prince Mohammed Mirza Anzour – A Qaberdian prince, he was Imam Shiekh Shamyl's Na-aib (Representing) in Chechnya- Small region.
  • Prince Berzej Jerandouka – A great Circassian Wibbixh Prince and a great Mujahid leader of the Circassian tribes - He lead more than 88 Circassian defence battles against Russian invasion of Circassia for 24 years(1840-1864).
  • Ghizel Bek Sharaloqa - Lion of Circassia - Lion of west of Caucasus - prince of commander legendary militant from Shabsugh circassian tribe - the circassian prince who diligent against the Russian occupation for north years – He is the hero of Lermontov's novel, A Hero of Our Time
  • Ismail Qazanouka Bek – A Circassian Mujahid leader, who lead Circassian troops against the Russian occupation of Circassia in the battles of 1863 and 1864, which ended in the last battle (Akhjeb) which occurred in11-5 – 1864
  • Beshmaf Couttsok – The second State President of the Government of the Republic of North Caucasus Nations in 1918. United
  • Gen. Mit Usif Gonatouqua Izzet Pasha - Commander-in-Chief of the Ottoman Turkish forces sent to fight Russians in 1918 to support the independence of the Northern Caucasus
  • Gen. Ismail Hakki Berkok – One of the famous Ottoman army leaders in their war against Russians in 1918 to support the independence of the northern Caucasus. He later served in the Turkish army and parliament until his death in 1954. His important book, The Caucasus in History, published posthumously in 1958 was, for a long time, the only work on Circassians available in Turkish.
  • Ahmed Nory Tsaaghw - A Circassianwriter and Teacher –He was the secretary of the( Circassian Union& Cooperation Society) in Istanbul, which was the first Circassian association established out side North Caucasus in 1908 – He was the founder of [Tsaaghw] movement for the rise and the development in North Caucasus
  • Prince Bshi Qoy – A young Circassian prince (15 years) of the Bezadough tribe. He pulled down the Russian Killer General Zats from his horse back and take his horse for himself.
  • Prince Iindar Nougai – One of Circassian leader princes who shared in leading the Circassian forces against the Russian occupying forces in (Western Caucasus) in the period 1830 -1864
  • Usif Suad Naghwij - The owner and chief editor of the first Circassian newspaper (Ghwaza), which was established in Istanbul in 1911.
  • Qazaniqqua Jabagh - A Circassian social reformer and philosopher who lived in the period 1684-1750.
  • Khieriah Malak Khong - The head of the first Circassian Women Association in Diaspora, the Union & Cooperation Circassian Society for Women, which was established in Istanbul in 1918 & closed by Government in 1922.
  • Ahmad Gaweed Pasha Trikht - The first chief of the first Circassian Association in Diaspora, the Union & Cooperation Circassian Society, which was established in Istanbul in 1908.
  • Professor Aitek Namitouq – A Circassian politician & Linguistic .He published his book The Origin of Circassians in 1939, and Old Circassian Stories & Sages with Professor Du- Muziel
  • Pasha Bechmerza- A Circassian poet, who used his poets to struggle against the process of evacuation of Circassians from their land.
  • Kuba Shahban- A Circassian researcher and writer. He gathered the old Circassian poems, stories and sayings, he wrote many circassian books with Latin letters which called Kuba Shahban's Alphabatics.
  • Shiekh Zakeria Bakeer Khorma- The first chief of the Circassian Charity Society, which was established in Amman in 1932.
  • Sieza Bookh- the first school manager of the Circassian school which was established in Istanbul in 1918. She published and owned the Circassian magazine, Diana - Our Mother, in 1920.
  • Omar Lutfi Al-Mufti Studied islamic religion in Istanbule Turkey and traveled to Jordan and was appointed by King abdullah the first the Mufti of Jordan until 1947.
  • Merza Pash Wasfi – An officer in the Ottoman Army the first chief of the Circassians in Jordan until his death in 1932.
  • Said Pasha Al-Mufti - The Prime Minister of the Jordanian government four times: in April 1950, 14 October 1950, May 1955, and May 1956.
  • Rasim Rushdy- A Circassian writer who published five books in the period 1947-1949: This is my Nation - A Circassian speaking about his Nation , Jan, Tragedy of a Nation ,Egypt And Circassians & Islam & Freedom of Thinking
  • Damad Ahmed Nami Pasha- He was the first Chief President & Prime Minister of Syria the period 1926- 1928
  • Dr. Ahmed Mahir Pasha- A Circassian Prime Minister of Egypt on 8 October 1944 & on 5 January 1954.
  • Jawad Anzour- He was a famous Circassian Syrian army officer, who lead the Circassian Commandos to liberate the region of Tel –Al azizat from the occupying Israel troops on 18 Jul. 1948.
  • Mahmod Sami Pasha Al- Baroody: An Egyptian National army leader, politician, & poet. He was the prime minister of Egypt in February 1882- He was the leader of renewing & developing of the Modern Arab poetry .
  • Khier Al- Dien Pasha Al- Tounisy- the prime minister of Tunisia in October 1873 & the Sader Ahdem (prime minister) of the Ottoman Empire in 4 Dec. 1878
  • Mohammad Sherif Pasha- He was the famous nationalist prime minister of Egypt for 4 times:- 1879,1879, 1881 1882,
  • Ali Mahir Pasha- An Egyptian prime minister. He was the prime minister of Egypt for four times: Jan. 1936, Aug. 1939, Jan. 1952 & Jul. 1952
  • Damad Salih Pasha Karzej Sader Ahzem( prime minister) of Ottoman Empire in Mar. 1920.
  • Mahmod Shawkat Pasha - Sader Ahzam (prime minister) of Ottoman Empire in Jan. 1913
  • Mahmod Fawzi – A Egyptian prime minister in 1970- he was Egypt's minister for Foreigner Affairs for 16 years.
  • Ahmad Zywar Pasha- A Circassian prime minister of Egypt in Nov. 1924& Mar. 1925.
  • Othman Jarkas Pasha Al- Biringy- he was an Egyptian Ruler of Sudan in 1824- He was the founder of Al –Khartoum city , capital of Sudan in Des. 1824
  • Gen. Mohammad Fawzi –A Famous Egyptian Circassian leader of the Egypt army after Jun. 1967 war with Israel.
  • Nadine Haobsh — American blogger, beauty journalist and author of Beauty Confidential
  • Maria Temrjukovna — Wife of Ivan the Terrible
  • Mehmet Okur — NBA basketball player; Dagestanimarker origin from mother's side
  • Inalmarker
  • Hussein Onn — Former Prime Minister of Malaysia with 1/4 Circassian ancestry.
  • Kyzbech Tuguzhoko
  • Yuri Kalmykov
  • Yuri Temirkanov
  • Sinemis Candemir — Actress
  • Yasar Dogu — Wrestler, 1948 Olympic Gold medalist
  • Gazanfer Bilge — Wrestler, 1948 Olympic Gold medalist
  • Hamit Kaplan — Wrestler, 1956 Olympic Gold medalist
  • Mahmut Atalay — Wrestler, 1968 Olympic Gold medalist
  • Yusuf Izzet Met — Famous Turkish soldier officially known as brother-in-arms of
  • Osman Mazukabzov — “Creator” of Circassian Internet; Internet entrepreneur who developed and managed the majority of the most famous Internet projects regarding Circassians, including and
  • Ekrem Alican — Politician
  • Talat Aydemir — Military figure who twice attempted military coup (1962, 1963)
  • Rauf Orbay — Politician
  • Türkan Şoray — Actress
  • Bibras Natkho — Captain, Israel national olympic football team
  • Çerkes Ethem — Turkish Military Hero
  • Vladimir Bereghwn — The quintessential Circassian minstrel of the 20th century [775982]
  • Qezenoqwe Zhebaghi [775983] - Legendary 18th-century Circassian philosopher and statesman
  • Alim Ch'ischoqwe [775984] Kabardian literary giant of the 20th century
  • Mohydeen Izzat Quandour — The archetypal Circassian diapsora writer, intellectual, film producer and director, and musician
  • Toujan al-Faisal - Jordanian politician and human rights activist.
  • Lyuba Belaghi — Circassian writer (works available in Circassian, English and Russian)
  • Seteney Khalid Shami — The most prominent researcher into Circassian identity issues (works available on web)
  • Prince Sanjalay Qanqilish Zhileghwet Yidar - Medieval Kabardian Prince of the 16th/17th centuries. Immortalized in a number of songs ('Senjelay yi Wered'='The Song of Prince Sanjalay')
  • Ziramikw Qardenghwsch' — The most accomplished and published bard of the 20th century
  • B. Kh. Bghezchnoqwe[775985] Kabardian folklorist and culturalist
  • Asker Hedeghel'e — Most important Adigean writer and folklorist of the 20th century
  • Yis-heq Meshbash — Iconic Adigean author of the 20th century
  • Hesen Qarden — One of the pioneers of Circassian classical music
  • Askerbi Shorten — Iconic Kabardian author of the 20th century
  • Shora B. Negwme — One of the first published Circassian writers of the 19th century
  • Buba M. Qarden — One of the greatest (Kabardian Circassian) lexicographers
  • M. A. Kumakhov — Published (Kabardian) Circassian linguist
  • G. Kh. Mambetov — Published Circassian culturalist and folklorist
  • M. A. Meretukov — Published Circassian anthropologist
  • Aliy Schojents'ik'w — Schojents'ik'w (1900-1942) was a great master of the Circassian language, penning many poems and works of fiction, like The Young Hero.
  • Faruk Gec - Famous Turkish Artist and Journalist(Abkhazian origin)
  • Abdul Hamid II — Ottoman sultan, son of the Circassian Tirimujgan, one of the wives of the sultan Abdulmecid
  • Abdülhak Hâmid TarhanTurkishmarker poet and playwright, son of a Circassian mother
  • Sansal Buyuka - Journalist
  • Hincal Uluc - Journalist
  • Nefise Karatay- Model
  • Deniz Akkaya - Model
  • Ediz Hun - Actor
  • Can Bartu - Football Player
  • Oguz Cetin - Football Player
  • Tayfur Havutçu - Football Player
  • Suleyman Seba - Ex-President of Besiktas Football Club
  • Cem Özdemir - Co-chairman of the German Green Party
  • Wadeh kalmik Bashkour - Circassian Writer & poet lives in diaspora Syria.
  • Ludmilla Tchérina (10 October 1924 - 21 March 2004) - was an internationally-famous ballet dancer, actress, artist and sculptor.
  • Bassam Abdel Majeed - Former Syrian interior minister and director of the military police.
  • Keriman Halis Ece- She was also crowned as Miss world in 1932 in Spa Belgium
  • Hadise Acikgoz
  • Lady Teresia Shirley-wife of Robert Shirley
  • Charlotte Elizabeth Aisse

See also


  1. Allen, W.E.D. and Muratoff, Paul (1953) Caucasian Battlefields: History of the Wars on the Turco-Caucasian Border 1828-1921 Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 107-8 OCLC 1102813
  2. Mufti, Shawkat (1972) Heroes and emperors in Circassian history Librairie du Liban, Beirut, OCLC 628135
  3. Brooks, Willis (I995) "Russia’s conquest and pacification of the Caucasus: relocation becomes a pogrom on the post-Crimean period" Nationalities Papers 23(4): pp. 675-86
  4. Shenfield, Stephen D. (1999) "The Circassians - A Forgotten Genocide?" in Levene, Mark and Roberts, Penny (eds.) (1999) The Massacre in History Berghahn Books, New York, ISBN 1571819347
  6. A Country Study: Syria. The Library of Congress.
  7. BBC News | Europe | Circassians flee Kosovo conflict


  • كتاب (أعلام الشراكسة)- فيصل حبطوش خوت أبزاخ - عمان - الأردن -2007م
  • Shtendel, Uri , The Circassians in Israel, Am Hasefer Tel Aviv, 1973.

  • Jaimoukha, Amjad, The Circassians: A Handbook, London: Routledge, New York: Routledge & Palgrave, 2001.

  • Jaimoukha, Amjad, Circassian Culture and Folklore: Hospitality Traditions, Cuisine, Festivals & Music (Kabardian, Cherkess, Adigean, Shapsugh & Diaspora), Bennett and Bloom, 2008.

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