What comes to your mind when you hear the word Cherkess / Circassian? I guess that most probably you’d say the delicious cherkassia dish of rice, chicken and walnut sauce (yum yum), or the mamluks, or the cherkess society that lived in Egypt for some time.
And because curiosity killed the cat, I decided to look for more info. So far I know that the cherkessian 19th century immigrants came from a city called Cherkessk, currently located in Karachay-Cherkessia (a federal subject of Russia). “The city was founded in 1804 as Batalpashinskaya, it was renamed Batalpashinsk in 1931, then Sulimov in 1934, then Yezhovo-Cherkessk in 1937, and finally Cherkessk in 1939“, here is its coordinates 44°13′N 42°03′E. (But I don’t know if the cherkess mamluks of the 13th century come from the same place or not).
What’s funny is that the Cherkess constitute approximately 11.3% (around 50 thousand) of the total population in Karachay-Cherkessia (around 440 thousand), while the Cherkess population constitute approximately 1% of Jordan’s 5.8 Million. So there are more Cherkess in Jordan than in the republic of Karachay-Cherkessia itself !!
Another thing I am not sure of is: why did they leave their country in this mass exodus? Some say that it was due to pressures from the Ottoman Empire, others say it was due to the mass massacres that followed the Russian-Circassian War, or maybe because they were muslims and the Russians were christians (so they wanted to live in muslim countries), maybe it was simply the more favorable conditions in the middle east (for example, in Egypt, the Khediv Ismail used to prefer Cherkess officers and gave them land, and slowly they formed an ‘elite’ society)…. Unfortunately I didn’t find an answer in my ancestor’s stuff, I will have to dig more.
- Cherkessk (the city): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherkessk
- Cherkessia (the republic): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karachay-Cherkessia
- Cherkes (the ethnic group): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherkes
- Cherkess (people): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circassians
- Russian- Circassian war: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian-Circassian_War
- Barkuk: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barkuk
- History: http://www.circassianworld.com/Circassian_History.html