Khinalughs - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The traditional Khinalugh economy was based on animal husbandry: primarily sheep, but also cows, oxen, horses, and mules. The summer alpine pastures were located around Khinalugh, and the winter pastures—along with winter livestock shelters and dug-out dwellings for the shepherds—were at Müshkür in the lowlands of the Kuba District. The livestock remained in the mountains near Khinalugh from June to September, at which point they were driven to the lowlands. Several owners, usually relatives, would combine their sheep herds under the supervision of a person chosen from among the most respected villagers. He was responsible for the pasturing and maintenance of the livestock and their exploitation for products. Well-to-do owners hired workers to herd their stock; poorer peasants did the herding themselves. The animals provided an important part of the diet (cheese, butter, milk, meat), as well as wool for homespun cloth and multicolored stockings, some of which were traded. Uncolored wool was made into felt ( keche ) to cover the dirt floors in homes. In Müshkür felt was traded to lowlanders in exchange for wheat. The Khinalughs also sold wool carpets woven by the womenfolk.

Agriculture played only a secondary role. The severe climate (a warm season of only three months) and lack of arable land were not conducive to the development of agriculture in Khinalugh. Barley and a local variety of bean were cultivated. Because of the insufficiency of the yield, wheat was obtained by trade in the lowland villages or by people going there to work at harvest time. On the less steep areas of the slopes around Khinalugh, terraced fields were plowed in which the villagers planted a mixture of winter rye ( silk ) and wheat. This yielded a dark-colored flour of inferior quality. Spring barley ( maqa ) was also planted, and a smaller amount of lentils. The fields were worked with wooden mountain plows ( ĂŻngaz ) pulled by yoked oxen; these plows broke the surface without overturning the soil. The crops were harvested in mid-August: the grain was reaped with sickles and bundled into sheaves. The grain and hay were transported by mountain sledges or packed onto horses; the absence of roads precluded the use of oxcarts. As elsewhere in the Caucasus, grain is threshed on a special threshing board, on the surface of which chips of flint are embedded. Up to the 1960s terrace agriculture without irrigation was the predominant form in Khinalugh. Garden farming of cabbage and potatoes (which had earlier been brought from Kuba) began in the 1930s. With the establishment of a Soviet sheep-raising farm (sovkhoz) in the 1960s, all private landholdings, which had been converted into pastures or gardens, were eliminated. The necessary supply of flour is now delivered to the village, and potatoes are also sold.

Clothing. Traditional Khinalugh apparel resembled that of the Azerbaijanis, consisting of an undershirt, trousers, and outer clothing. For men this would included a chokha (frock), an arkhalug (shirt), outer cloth trousers, a sheepskin coat, the Caucasian woolen hat ( papakha ), and rawhide boots ( charĂŻkh ) worn with woolen gaiters and knit stockings ( jorab ). A Khinalugh woman would wear a wide dress with gathers; an apron tied high on the waist, almost at the armpits; wide long trousers; shoes similar to the men's charĂŻkh; and jorab stockings. The woman's headdress was made of several small kerchiefs, tied on in a particular way. There were five layers of clothing: the small white lechek, then a red ketwa, over which three kalagays (silk, then wool) were worn. In winter women wore a sheepskin coat ( kholu ) with the fur on the inside, and wealthier individuals sometimes added a velvet overcoat. The kholu reached to the knees and had short sleeves. Older women had a somewhat different wardrobe: a short arkhalug and long narrow trousers, all of red color. The clothing was primarily made from homespun fabrics, although materials such as calico, silk, satin, and velvet could be purchased. At the present time urban wear is preferred. Elderly women continue to wear the traditional costume, and Caucasian headgear (papakha and kerchiefs) and stockings are still in use.

Food. The basis of the Khinalugh cuisine is bread—generally made from barley flour, less often from wheat purchased in the lowlands—cheese, curds, milk (usually fermented), eggs, beans, and rice (also purchased in the lowlands). Mutton is served on feast days or when entertaining guests. Thursday evenings (the eve of the day of worship) a rice and bean pilaf is prepared. The beans (a local variety) are boiled for a long time and the water is repeatedly poured off to subdue their bitter taste. Barley flour is ground with hand mills and used to make porridge. Since the 1940s the Khinalughs have planted potatoes, which they serve with meat. The traditional beverages are sherbet (honey in water) and tea steeped from wild alpine herbs. Since the 1930s black tea, which has become very popular among the Khinalughs, has been available through trade. Like the Azerbaijanis, the Khinalughs drink tea before dining. Wine is only drunk by those who have lived in cities. Nowadays wine might be enjoyed by men attending a wedding, but they will not drink it if elderly men are present. Khinalughs continue to prepare their traditional dishes, and the quantity of food available has increased. Pilaf is now made from regular beans, and bread and porridge from wheat flour. Bread is still baked as it was before: thin flat cakes ( ükha pïshä ) are baked in the fireplace on thin metal sheets, and thick flat cakes ( bzo pïshä ) are baked in the tunor. In recent decades many Azerbaijani dishes have been adopted—dolma; pilaf with meat, raisins, and persimmons; meat dumplings; and soup with yogurt, rice, and herbs. Shish kebab is served more frequently than before. As in the past, fragrant wild herbs are gathered, dried, and used throughout the year to flavor dishes, including such newly introduced foods as borscht and potatoes.

Industrial Arts. Most of the production of traditional Khinalugh cottage industry was intended for local consumption, with a portion for sale to lowlanders. Woolen cloth ( shal ), used for clothing and gaiters, was woven on horizontal looms. Only men worked at the looms. Up to the 1930s the majority of weavers were still men; at present this practice has died out. Previously the women knitted woolen stockings, wove carpets on vertical looms, and fulled felt. They made cord from goat's wool, which was used to bind hay for winter. All traditional forms of female industry are practiced to the present day.

Trade. Despite the geographic isolation of their village and the earlier lack of roads passable by wheeled vehicles, the Khinalughs have maintained continuous economic contact with other regions of Azerbaijan and southern Daghestan. They brought a variety of products down to the lowlands on pack horses: cheese, melted butter, wool, and woolen products; they also drove sheep to market. In Kuba, Shemakha, Baku, AkhtĂŻ, Ispik (near Kuba), and Lagich, they obtained materials such as copper and ceramic vessels, cloth, wheat, fruit, grapes, and potatoes. Only a few Khinalughs have gone to work in the petroleum plants for five to six years to earn money for the bride-price ( kalĂŻm ), after which they returned home. Until the 1930s there were migrant laborers from the Kutkashen and Kuba regions who came to Khinalugh to help with the harvest. Tinsmiths from Daghestan selling copper utensils came frequently up through the 1940s; since then copper vessels have all but disappeared and today they visit at most once a year.

Division of Labor. As elsewhere there was a division of labor according to age and gender. Men were entrusted with animal husbandry, agriculture, construction, and weaving; women were responsible for housework, the care of children and the aged, carpet making, and the production of felt and stockings.

Land Tenure. The feudal system of land ownership never existed in Khinalugh. Pastures were the common property of the village community ( jamaat ), whereas arable fields and hay meadows belonged to individual homesteads. The summer pastures were apportioned according to the neighborhoods (see "Kinship Groups") in Khinalugh; winter pastures belonged to the community and were apportioned by its administration. Other lands were leased in common by a group of homesteads. After collectivization in the 1930s all land became the property of the collective farms.

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