Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The traditional economy of the Avars consisted of agriculture, livestock breeding, domestic industries, and trade. Avaria is one of the most significant regions of ancient terrace agriculture in the Caucasus. The inhabitants of mountain valleys received indispensable foodstuffs in exchange for the products of stock raising. Animal husbandry had several forms, with large stock in settled zones and the pasturing of sheep in the high mountains. The contemporary economy of the Avars in the more labor-intensive sectors is mechanized (plowing, harvesting, trucking, and so forth).
Clothing. The clothing of the Avars as a whole is of the generic Caucasian sort, but it has some distinctive features. Men's apparel includes pants, a shirt, a beshmet (quilted coat), a cherkeska (long, narrow, collarless coat), a sheepskin coat, a felt coat, a cowl, a fur cap, leather shoes, and socks of felt or wool. Avar men from the age of 15 traditionally sought to obtain the full set of weaponry for battle and display (saber, rifle, dagger, pistol); they wore the dagger as an accessory to their costume. Since the 1930s the bearing and possession of arms has been forbidden. The contemporary clothing, particularly of men, resembles ordinary European civilian clothing. Women's clothing varies somewhat from one region to another in Avaria. The community from which a woman comes could be ascertained by her clothing as much as by her speech. On the chukht (headdress) were sewn silver ornaments, different for each community.
Food. Dairy products and meat predominate in the diet of the mountainous regions. In the mountain valley zones vegetables and grain flour are consumed, as well as fruits, edible gourds, edible herbs, and wild grasses. The contemporary Avar cuisine and the dietary regime and etiquette of nourishment among city dwellers have undergone considerable changes.
Industrial Arts. In Avaria, district centers have specialized in different kinds of industry. The construction industry has developed more in the cities of Sogratl and Teletl; the master masons from these centers built the best houses. Leather, woodworking, and other domestic industries, despite their great variety, served mainly to satisfy local demand. But bronze embossing (in Gotsatl and Ichichali), textile manufacture, and silk spinning had a larger market. Since the middle of the nineteenth century the village of Untsukul has achieved great renown for its woodworking products with silver inlay. The products of Untsukul masters have been celebrated with prizes at many international fairs.
Trade. Trade and exchange of goods were as important as their production. In Avaria there have traditionally functioned several weekly bazaars, as well as state and cooperative stores.
Division of Labor. The gender division of labor among the Avars was obligatory and has been preserved to a significant degree to this day. Traditionally men did the heavier work: house building, plowing, threshing, transporting the harvest, maintaining and repairing terraced fields, pasturing cattle, driving livestock. All domestic work, including receiving and processing milk products, and all remaining fieldwork (weeding, picking fruits, hilling up plants, haying on steep slopes when a scythe could not be used) was women's work. The transformation of the traditional economy into a collective-farm economy only slightly changed the gender division of labor. Domestic tasks continue to be relegated to Avar women. In the cities the male Avars, like other Daghestan mountaineers, do not hire out as servants, conductors, and janitors. Women are considerably freer than they are in the east.
Land Tenure. Because of intensive forms of agricultural economy, such as the terracing of mountain slopes since ancient times, the land traditionally was the private property of small families, whereas alpine meadows, forests, and some pastures were communal property. Every member of a commune was the private owner of plowland, hay fields, and sometimes pastures, and a co-owner of all the territory of the given commune. Property could be freely disposed of (gift, will, purchase, and sale). There were legal limits to the sale of land to someone who was not a member of the commune. After the nationalization of land and the creation of a kolkhoz structure (1932-1934) the landowners and the landless peasants became land users and workers on state farms. At the present (the period of reconstruction, or perestroika ) there is a tendency toward the reinstatement of some progressive forms of property ownership.