Circassians - Settlements



The traditional Circassian wuna was a long rectangular house with a porch extending along its front. It was made of wattle coated with mud, with a thatch roof. The kitchen and eating area had a conical flue over the hearth. There were several rooms, including at least one for the women. The house itself had a vegetable garden behind it and several satellite houses for sons and their families, as well as outbuildings for livestock and food storage. This complex was enclosed in a stockade. Close to this perimeter was a guest house for visitors. The main house would have a large tree planted before its door to symbolize the growth and strength of the family. The whole complex would be near a forest where the family could take shelter in the event of a raid. These units would be spaced fairly far apart along the course of a river, generally in the higher country, though trading posts were in the lowlands. Thus, the traditional Circassian village was much like a necklace, with a river for its chain. Today, in the lowland villages to which they have been moved in the Soviet Union, standardized small brick country homes with surrounding garden plots have replaced traditional patterns. In their immigrant villages in the Middle East, Circassians still build wunas and live in extended family compounds, but the other traditional features have vanished. In the Soviet Union, they live in cities. In Adyghea there is Maikop, with nearby Armavir and Krasnodar lying outside its boundary. In the Karachay-Cherkess Republic there is Cherkassk and nearby Stavropol. In the Kabardino-Balkar Republic there is Nalchik and nearby Mozdok. These centers do have Circassian institutes and schools, and some Circassians have moved there to be near their work in the city industries, but there are no official statistics regarding how many Circassians have done so. In Maikop, for example, it seems that of a population of 105,000, roughly 20 percent is Circassian.


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