Laz - Religion and Expressive Culture

The Laz, as we have seen, were converted to Christianity in the sixth century and gradually to Islam after the fifteenth. As Muslims, they belong to the Shafi school of Sunni Islam and are generally conservative in religious matters. Whereas the Laz possess a rich folklore, they have no written literature, although a few poets such as Rasid Hilmi and Pehlivanoglu have appeared among them in modern times.

The Laz are noted for their dances, related to those performed by the Ajarians and other coastal peoples. These may be solemn and precise, performed by lines of men, with carefully executed footwork, or extremely vigorous with the men dancing erect with hands linked, making short rapid movements with their feet, punctuated by dropping to a crouch. The women's dances are graceful but more swift in movement than those encountered in Georgia. The musical accompaniment is either by the kemancha, a fiddle held upright on the knee, or by the zurna (oboe) and doli (a drum held between the knees. In Greece such dances are still associated with the Pontic Greeks who emigrated from this region after 1922.

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