Elements of Christianity in the culture of the Circassians According to Ethnographic, Linguistic and Archaeological Sources
The article is devoted to a comprehensive study of Christianity among the Circassians, religion, established in the North-West Caucasus during the Byzantine Emperor Justinian the Great (483-565). It is especially emphasized that the mountaineers of the Caucasus, not having their own written language and divided into many tribes, strongly depended on the neighboring peoples. When the Orthodox states (Byzantium, Georgia and Russia) supported them by sending priests and liturgical books, Christianity was strengthened in them. After the weakening of these countries and their departure from the Caucasus, the extinction of the Christian religion began. This contributed to the layering of various religious doctrines, which led to syncretism. Therefore, European travelers who lived among the Circassians, often experienced serious difficulties in describing their religious beliefs. The main attention in the article is paid not only to historical reconstruction, but also to the study of the current state of individual Christian elements in the culture of the Circassians. Despite the rather complex religious history, even at present, some Orthodox attributes are deeply integrated into the cultural layer of people’s memory. For the analysis of the entire complex of Christian elements in the culture of the Circassians, standard historical methods were supplemented by philological tools, which became the basis of etymological constructions. The use of onomastics and phraseological material made it possible to reveal Christian names and proverbs rooted in the language.