Avars - Sociopolitical Organization



Social Organization. Social relations were characterized by segmentation into social classes. The feudal and clan-structural aristocracy ( nutsbi, uzden ) constituted a patrician class, whereas the emancipated serfs (or "freedmen") and the serfs (or "slaves") constituted the lower class. A special place in the social structure and the political culture was occupied by the tukhums, according to which the ruling part of the society was also of necessity, subdivided. After the unification with Russia a new aristocracy took shape based on service, and after the Revolution society was divided into workers, peasants, and intellectuals. Nevertheless, popular memory preserved the traditional division even into the Soviet period.

Political Organization. Historically, the political structure of the Avars has undergone various modifications: from centralized states (the kingdom of Sarir, ninth to tenth centuries), to the theocratization of the nineteenth century, to Soviet power in the twentieth. The basic form of government until the nineteenth century was an association of aristocratic, aristodemocratic, and democratic republics. At the head of one of them stood the family of the khan, tracing its (legendary) genealogy to the Egyptian pharaohs. After the establishment of Soviet power the Avars, as a recognized nationality of the Daghestan Autonomous SSR, shared power through the Supreme Soviet of the republic. In place of the former federations (and the imamate of Shamil) there has been created a new administrative network. Self-government is realized through local councils.

Social Control. Traditionally, administrative and judicial power was implemented through leaders and elders, together with Quranic judges. Law making and political control belonged to the Council of Elders, who represented the People's Council. Officials were selected annually: for example, the magush served as intermediary between the people and the leaders; there were also "policemen" ( el ) , watchmen for the fields and the treasuries. The Council of Elders designated the military leader. The leaders were bound by an oath on the Quran to observe the laws of the society. Public opinion plays an important role in social control.

Conflict. The court and its organization are constructed according to Soviet law. Traditionally, in old Daghestan, court was managed by elected leaders and elders according to the written codices of customary law ( adat ) , whereas the Quranic judges worked in terms of Quranic law (Sharia). A significant role in juridical life was played by common law when it came to mediating conflicts and disputes. The punishments included fines, ostracism, and blood vengeance. Today the vendetta can be considered eliminated. Quranic law functioned until the 1930s, and Quranic and customary legal forms of inheritance, the conclusion of marriage, and so forth have their place even today in legal practices.


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