Dargins - Economy



Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Economic production based on agriculture and stock breeding developed in Daghestan (and hence in Dargi territory) in the Neolithic period (late seventh to sixth millennia). In the Eneolithic period (fifth to fourth millennia) one or the other became predominant, depending on local conditions stock breeding came to dominate (i.e., stock breeding was more suited to the high mountain regions); in the Bronze Age came growth in the agricultural and stock breeding economies, the rise of terrace agriculture, the wide use of the basic grains, orchards and vineyards, and the final stages of animal domestication. Agricultural economic growth, with intensification of terrace agriculture, continued in the mid-altitude mountain areas until the end of nomadic domination of the plains (i.e., until the fifteenth to sixteenth centuries) A.D. . With the end of nomadic pressure and the growth of productive power and exchange, economic specialization arose according to natural economic zones (sixteenth to nineteenth centuries). The lower foothills became the site of an economic-cultural area of settled plow agriculturalists and sedentary stockbreeders. The middle foothills were the locus of settled plow agriculture and (winter) pasture stock herding, an economy in which agriculture was important but not the main element. The high mountains were the zone of (summer) pasture herding and plow agriculture. There are a number of important differences between the lowland and highland economic-cultural areas: developed agriculture and irrigation are important in the lowlands but not in the highlands; large fields are the norm in the lowlands but small terraces and slopes are suitable to the highlands; the traditional metal plow is the standard instrument in the lowlands, whereas a more primitive one is in use in the highlands; transhumant agriculture without fertilizer is the practice in the lowlands, but a two-year fallow and crop-rotation system using fertilizer prevails in the highlands; wheat is the principal grain in the lowlands, but barley, rye, maize, and legumes predominate in the highlands; the scythe is preferred in the lowlands, the sickle in the highlands; most agricultural labor is done by men in the lowlands but by women in the highlands; trades and seasonal work are weakly developed in the lowlands, highly developed in the highlands; baked goods and ovens predominate in the lowlands, khinkal (see "Food") and griddles in the highlands; wheeled transport is used in the lowlands, pack and hand-carried transport in the highlands; unrestrained layout of settlements and dwellings predominates in the lowlands, whereas densely clustered multistory ensembles are the rule in the highlands; and so on.

Clothing. Traditional Dargi dress is of the Daghestanian type. Men's dress, which has general Caucasian features as well, consisted of a tuniclike shirt, straight pants, a short coat (with front lapped opening and no fastening), the cherkeska (Caucasian jacket), a sheepskin cloak, a felt overcoat, a sheepskin hat, a felt cap, a bashlïk (fabric headgear worn over the sheepskin hat), knitted socks and stockings, leather footwear (soft leather boots, some of them high with separate tops; hard-soled leather boots with heels), felt slippers, sheepskin boots, sabotlike low boots, and weapons (a dagger was always worn). Women's clothing included a tunic or a blouse with separately cut and set-in waist, pants (both straight-legged like men's and wide-legged), the arkhaluk (a robelike dress that opened in front), an overcoat or cloak, the chukhta (a scarf with a baglike place for the braids), a richly embroidered head covering, and a kerchief. There were many silver ornaments: forehead and temple pieces, earrings, necklaces, belt ornaments, ornaments for the hands, and sequins. Footgear was like men's but more varied and sometimes decorated: colored socks, ornamented soft leather boots, felt dress boots, etc. Contemporary Dargi dress is much like urban street clothing, but traditional dress can be seen worn by older people and during certain ceremonies.

Food. The traditional Dargi diet reflects ancient agricultural traditions and the central role of stock herding since the fifteenth century. The staples are grain, dairy products, meat, vegetables, fruits, greens, and berries. A basic dish is khinkal: dough casings (of various sizes and shapes) filled with meat, cheese or sour cream, lard, or drippings, seasoned with garlic and cooked, preferably in bouillon. Other favorite dishes are pies with various fillings (meat, cheese, cottage cheese, wild greens, eggs, nuts, squash, fowl, cooked grains or meal, dried apricots, onion, barberry, pepper, etc.). Bread is unleavened or yeasted, baked on a griddle or on the hearth; dough is pressed against the wall of an oven ( tarum or tondïr ) to bake the flat bread that is common throughout the Caucasus and the Near East. The higher standard of living during Soviet times has made itself felt in the diet: the consumption of vegetables, canned and commercially prepared food, and Russian and European dishes (salads, borscht, cutlets, etc.) has increased.

Industrial Arts. Household crafts are well developed among the Dargins, especially in the highlands. The most developed are wool working (fabric, rugs, unnapped rugs, knitted objects), metalworking, woodworking, stoneworking, etc. Best known are the weapons, silverware, metal housewares, and jewelry of Kubachi; the agricultural implements and tools of Kharbuk; the blades of Amuzgi; the plain and glazed pottery of Sulerkent; the fabrics of Khajalmakhi; the stonecutting of Sutbuk and Kholaai (Uluai); the wooden implements and vessels of Kaitag; the leather of Tsudakhar, and the morocco and women's shoes of Gubden.

Division of Labor. Children were traditionally introduced to work early and encouraged to benefit from the experience and knowledge of older people. Age-based division of labor was never allowed to interrupt the gender-based division of labor. Men's work included plowing; sowing; irrigating; mowing; harvesting; care of orchards; work with livestock and harness; transport; care of livestock away from the home; pasturing of all livestock; gathering firewood; preparation of tools, weapons, and wooden and metal goods; and travel for trade, purchases, earnings, etc. Women's work included weeding and hoeing, care of livestock and poultry at home, gathering fallen fruit, preparation and preservation of food, spinning, weaving, knitting, making clothing, fetching water, housecleaning, laundry, etc. Both men and women participated in activities such as grinding, woodcutting, harvesting grain, and cutting and transporting hay (men used pack-animal transport; women carried hay on their backs).

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