Dargins - Sociopolitical Organization



Social Organization . Fundamental to Dargi social organization was the village territorial collective ( jamaat ). Unworked land was held communally; pastures, fields, and most hay fields were privately owned. Among some Dargins there were also feudal and waqf (i.e., Muslim ecclesiastical) properties. The territorial collectives formed unions of village societies: some were independent (or "free"; in Russian historiography of the nineteenth century they were often called "republics") and some dependent on feudal lords. Unions of societies would sometimes join in a larger union of unions, or macrounion. Most of the Dargins came under the Akushi macrounion headed by a qadi and consisting of the following unions of societies: Akusha, Tsudakhar, Mekegi, Usisha, Mugi, Urakhi, and sometimes Sirkha. The other Dargins were dependent to varying degrees on the feudal Kaitag utsmiate (Utsmi-Dargwa; the utsmi was a sort of feudal prince) and Tarkov Shamkhalate (Gubden, Kadar).

Political Organization. The functions of government, except those concerning unions, were held by village societies. The union of unions had primarily military and legal functions (i.e., those pertaining to the macrounion). For deciding major questions, particularly questions of war and peace, it had as its supreme organ an assembly of representatives ( tsähnabäq ), which met near Akusha, on a plateau known as the "meeting plain." Between meetings of the assembly, macrounion government was carried out by a supreme council of the qadis of the unions and twelve to fifteen influential elders. The economic and political life of the settlement was regulated by adat, the stipulations of which were universally binding. The adat customs were codified; the best known codex is that of Rustem Khan, a Kaitag utsmi of the seventeenth century. Sharia also exerted some influence.

Social Control and Conflict. The heads of village government were the village qadis, who held full spiritual and supervisory secular powers. Village society was governed by an elder or elders ( khalati ). Other elders supervised their actions. Below the elders were executive bodies ( baruman ) headed by a crier ( mangush ). The most important questions were decided by the tsähnabäq. Disputes were resolved through adat (with elders serving as judges) or Sharia (with a qadi as judge). The qadi had responsibility in matters of religion, family relations, inheritance, wills, and civic suits. Capital and civic matters were decided by adat. Appeals went to the qadi of the union or to the Akusha qadi. Disputes and conflicts of an interunion nature were also decided by the Akusha qadi and his council or, in extreme cases, by the union assembly.


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