Monday, 30 January 2012

Booklet: The Jaimoukha Clan

The History of the Jaimoukha (Jamoukha, Jamokha) Clan
by Ahmed (Yura) M. Zhemix'we (A. M. Zhemukhov)

(Nalchik: M. and V. Kotlyarov Publishing House, 2008)

(Zhemix'we Lhepqim yi Txide)

Тхылъ зытхар: Жэмыхъуэ Мухьэмэд и къуэ Ахьмэд [Юрэ

Reviewed by Amjad Jaimoukha

[The 40-page booklet is in Circassian. The cover features three of the Jaimoukha clan heraldic emblems (дамыгъэ; damighe). One hundred copies of the booklet were printed]

The Jaimoukha clan is mainly found in Circassia, specifically in the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic (Kabarda) and the Adigean Republic, though the overwhelming majority live in the former. The Circassian appellation of the clan is'Жэмыхъуэ' ('Zhemix'we') and the Russian rendering is 'Жемухов' ('Zhemukhov'; used mostly in the official sphere, and is unfortunately becoming the preferred appellation by some of the Jaimoukhas in the Caucasus). In the diaspora (Jordan, Syria, USA, Canada, UK, UAE), the Latinized forms most in use are 'Jaimoukha', 'Jamoukha', and 'Jamokha'. 'Жэмыхъуэ' ('Zhemix'we') literally means 'Cow-Herd', and it indicates either the métier or great wealth through possession of large bovine herds.

The towns and villages of Kabardino-Balkaria in which the clan is found in significant numbers are: Zeiyiqwe (Зеикъуэ), Qex'wn (Къэхъун; on the Sherej [Cherek] River), Qwlhqwzhin (Къулъкъужын; on a river of the same name that is a tributary of the Malka River), Lower Het'ox'wschiqwey (Yischx'ere) (ХьэтIохъущыкъуей Ищхъэрэ; also called 'Qizbrun I' ['Къызбрун I']; Yischx'ere=Lower [part of settlement]), Psinedaxe (Псынэдахэ; on the Dzeliqwe River), Bax'sen (Бахъсэн), Nartqale (Нарткъалэ), Zol'skoe (Зольское; Russified form of Circassian Dzeliqwe [Дзэлыкъуэ]), Mayskiy (Майский), Mezdaxe (Мэздахэ), Merzex'w (Мэрзэхъу), Lower Kwrkwzhiyn (Куркужин), Bilim (Былым), Terskol (Терскол). Of course, a significant community of Jaimoukhas also resides in the republican capital Nalchik. The overall number of the Circassian clan is estimated at a few thousands. It is considered one of the bigger clans in Kabarda.

In the Adigean Republic the Jaimoukhas are found in the Kweshheble (Куэшхьэблэ; Кощхьабл, in Adigean) village and Qwnchiqwhabl (Къунчыкъухьабл; Кунчукохабль). There are two families residing there, those of the sons of Adeljeriy (Адэлджэрий): Aslhen (Аслъэн) and X'wsiyn (Хъусин). It is said that this branch of the Jaimoukha clan moved from Het'ox'wschiqwey (ХьэтIохъущыкъуей; though which one remains a moot point) and settled in Kweshheble in the early 1900s. The family symbol or heraldic device (дамыгъэdamighe) – each Circassian clan had one or more family insignias – of the Kweshheble Jaimoukhas is the same as that of the Het'ox'wschiqwey Yischx'ere Jaimoukhas. According to Aslhen Adeljeriy, the Adigean Jaimoukhas are closest to the Jaimoukha clan in Syria.

In Jordan the Jaimoukhas originally settled in Jerash in the late 1870s. Two brothers (namely: Yismeil [Yismahiyl] and Ahmed, sons of Aslambek Mertaze Muhemed) and their families left the Caucasus [specifically, Lower Het'ox'wschiqwey in Kabarda] and took residence in one of the Jerash neighbourhoods (there is a map in my possession that shows the Circassian neighbourhoods of Jerash). Jerash was re-established by the Circassians in the late 1870s. After scouting for habitable areas that resemble their original landscape (forests, rivers, hills), the Circassians who moved to Jordan chose Jerash as one of their habitations. A few dozen Circassian extended families found shelter in Jerash. Throughout the years, the Jaimoukhas diffused to other parts of Jordan, mainly Amman and Zarqa, some even found home in the West (USA, Canada, and UK), and two members of the clan repatriated to the homeland (Muhened Humar Ali Ahmed Yislham Mertaze Muhemed, and Iyad Muhemed Kwshikw Yismeil, Yislham, Mertaze Muhemed). Only a handful are left in Jerash (Aymen Nayif Aliy Ahmed Yislham Mertaze Muhemed, his mother and sisters). The eldest member of the Jaimoukha clan in Jordan is Ahmad Kuchuk (Kwshikw) Yismeil Yislham Mertaze Muhemed (he engendered Widad, Hind, Da'id, Khuloud, and Tamir), who was born in 1923. The number of the Jaimoukhas (with their spouses) resident in Jordan at the present time is reckoned at 80 (20 families).

The Jaimoukhas in Syria are estimated to number 50 (a number of them work in the Gulf Region: Yasser Henefi and Samer Henefi). One branch settled in the Golan Heights in the principal town of Quneitra, where they possessed large tracts of land, but they were forced to find shelter in Damascus following the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. They still lay claim on their lost lands, which hopefully would be restored following the expected Syrian-Israeli piece treaty. The patriarch of the Syrian Jaimoukhas is Henefi, who engendered Yaser, Samer, Zhamal, Tamer, and Sameera (female). Ghaleb and Muhemed-Kheir are Henefi's brothers, who in their turn engendered offspring (Ammar, Nour, Jano?).

About 10 Jaimoukha families reside in Arschidan (Арщыдан) in Turkey.

There are a number of legends on the origin of the Jaimoukha clan in Kabarda. However, it seems the accounts agree that the Jaimoukhas originate in Western Circassia (either Shapsughia or Abzakhia, or from both if severalty is assumed in the origin of the clan). According to Kuchuk (Kwshikw) Yismeil Jaimoukha (born towards the end of the 19th century in Circassia and died in the middle years of the 20th century in Jerash, Jordan), in 18th century Abzakhia (the land of the Abzakh in Western Circassia), there lived a well-off extended family of the Yedij (Едыдж) clan. A son of the head of the family died leaving behind a wife and two sons. The lord of the manor decreed that a younger son of his should marry his deceased brother’s wife, in accordance with old custom, to keep the woman in the family. The woman defied the wishes of her father-in-law and refused to wed her brother-in-law. The fuming patriarch ordered his son to fulfil his duties. Forcing himself upon his widowed sister-in-law, she stabbed the hapless man to death. She immediately took off with her two sons and sought refuge with Prince Het’ox’wschoqwe, whose village was located on the River Bax’sen (БахъсэнBakhsan) in Kabarda. The prince offered the woman and her two children asylum, and he tasked the boys with tending his herd of cows. They are the progenitors of a branch of the Zhemix’we (Cow-herd) clan in Kabarda.

In another account, two brothers (Aliy and Cheliymet) and their families left the hamlet of Lo in Shapsughia (in the environs of the town of Sochi) in the 1750s and settled in the lower part (north) of the Bramte (Брамтэ) village in Kabarda (it is nowadays called 'Dubky'). The place where the Jaimoukhas found a new home was later called 'Zhemix'we Heble' ('Жэмыхъуэ Хьэблэ') on account of this settlement. That some of the Jaimoukha family insignias are wave-like in appearance is a further indication of the veracity of the Black Sea connection (of some branches of the clan).

In Nart mythology, Zhemix'we (the cow-herd) is the father of Nart Sosriqwe (the cow-herd is called 'Sos' in some tales). Lady Satanay, the mother of all the Narts, was born of a lovely flower (the drop-wort, Filipendula) which still bears her name. Her beauty was legendary. She was sought after by all notable Narts for marriage. The story of the birth of (her son) Sosriqwe bears witness to the uncontrollable effect she had on men. As she sat on her haunches doing the laundry by the river, the cow-herd, Zhemix’we, who was tending his bevy on the other side of the stream, seeing her uncovered curvaceous limbs, was unable to hold back his semen (nafsi) as it was ejected across the water on the stone beside her. The stone later engendered Sosriqwe.

All accounts indicate that the Jaimoukhas belonged to the petty aristocracy (уэркъwerq), serving, amongst other princes, Prince Het’ox’wschoqwe in Kabarda as vassalsThere is an account that one of the freed slaves of the 18th century Circassian philosopher and statesman Qezenoqwe Zhabaghi (who supported the cause of oppressed people) was nicknamed 'Zhemix'we'.

Notwithstanding the various versions of origin, it is very gratifying that the Jaimoukha clan is very cohesive in Kabarda and periodic mass meetings have been scheduled and held since 1970. There are doctors, engineers, artisans, artists, musicians, writers, scholars amongst the members of the clan.

The booklet depicts the family trees in some of the various towns and villages of Circassia in which the Jaimoukhas reside. The family trees of the diaspora in Jordan and Syria are also depicted (although they are not complete, as some important branches are missing, for example Ahmed Aslambek Mertaze Muhemed had two sons: Aliy [whose offspring are detailed] and Hesen who engendered Sha'ban who engendered two sons [Nayif and Hisham, who engendered Ayman Nayif, and Firas Hisham and Aslambek Hisham, respectively], and one daughter). However, the connection between the various trees is not very clear. For example, the path connecting the Jordanian Jaimoukhas to any of the Caucasian trees is ambiguous. Fortunately, my father (Mahmoud Kuchuk [Kwshikw] Yismeil Aslambek Mertaze Muhemed) made several trips to the Caucasus starting from the end of the 1960s and was able to figure out the connection between the Caucasian and Jordanian Jaimoukhas. According to his research, the Jordanian Jaimoukhas are most akin to the Lower Het'ox'schiqwey (ХьэтIохъущыкъуей Ищхъэрэ) and Psinedaxe (Псынэдахэ) Jaimoukhas (the latter are an off-shoot of the former). In the scheme that he was able to cull out from the snippets of information provided by the Jaimoukha elders, Mertaze (son of Muhemed) had three sons: Yislham (Ислъам), Bechmirze (Бэчмырзэ), and Aslhenbech (Аслъэнбэч). Yislham engendered Yismeil and Ahmed, both of whom emigrated from the Caucasus and found a new home in Jordan, founding the Jaimoukha clan there. Bechmirze had one son T'iyt'e (ТIитIэ), who had five sons: Mazhiyd, Hebizh, T'eliyb, Hemiyd, and Zhanteimiyr. T'iyt'e and his five sons, together with other people from the village, including other members of the Zhemix'we clan, left Lower Het'ox'schiqwey in 1923 and established the new village of Psinedaxe. Aslhenbech (Yefendizch), whose offspring remained in Lower Het'ox'schiqwey, engendered Hezhumar (Хьэжумар) and P'at' (ПIатI). Hezhumar's only son, Hezhpagwe (Хьэжпагуэ), had two sons, Yisuf and Barasbiy. Yisuf in his turn fathered three sons: Hebiyl, Yura, and Zhemiyl, each of whom had one son (Artur, Zamudiyn and Valera, respectively). On my visit to the Caucasus in 1987, I met Zhemal Hemiyd T'iyt'e Bechmirze Mertaze Muhemed, and his sons: Volodya, Nadiyr, Aslhen, and Murat. Zhemal was aware of the connection outlined hereby, and so were his sons. The patriarch of this branch of the Jaimoukha clan might be Qambolet (Къамболэт). We now know that Aslambek and Aslhenbech are one and the same person.

It should be mentioned that the village of Psinedaxe was established in 1923-5. At that time the Soviets resolved to settle Russians in the 'empty' areas of Kabarda. However, Beit'al Qalmiq (Къалмыкъ БетIал), the leader of Kabardino-Balkaria at that time, got wind of the Russians' malevolent intention and made efforts to thwart these colonial plans by settling Kabardians in these regions. Several Kabardian villages were established in Dzeliqwe (Дзэлыкъуэaka Zolsky [Зольскэ куей]), including Psinedaxe. Most of the Psinedaxe settlers hailed from Lower Het'ox'schiqwey (ХьэтIохъущыкъуей Ищхъэрэaka Qizbrun I (Къызбрун I) [it defies logic – not to mention the evocation of great indignation, consternation, and puzzlement – as to why an ancient Circassian settlement should at any time and under any circumstances be given a Turkic appellation: Qizbrun=Red Promontory in Turkic], a large village on the right bank of the Bakhsan River (Бахъсэныпс). T'iyt'e Zhemix'we (Жэмыхъуэ ТIитIэ) and his five sons [the closest relatives of the Jordanian Jaimoukhas in the Caucasus], Aliy Zhemix'we (Жэмыхъуэ Алий) and his three sons, and Mat'u Zhemix'we (Жэмыхъуэ МатIу) and one of his two sons (Matsiy) left Lower Het'ox'schiqwey and found a new home in Psinedaxe in 1923.

On my trip to the Caucasus in 1987, I visited Lower Het'ox'schiqwey, the birthplace of my grandfather Yismeil Yislham Muhemed Zhemix'we (and his forebears), and met members of the Zhemix'we clan still resident there. In my father's collection, there is a photograph of the grave of Yislham Muhemed Zhemix'we, his great-grandfather, in the self-same village.

A Poem Addressed to the Jaimoukha Clan
by Ahmed (Yura) M. Zhemix'we
(Translated by Amjad M. Jaimoukha)

Жэмыхъуэ лъэпкъым хуэгъэза усэ
Зытхар: Жэмыхъуэ Мухьэмэд и къуэ Ахьмэдщ (Юрэ)
(ИнджылызыбзэмкIэ зезыдзэкIар [тэрмэш зыщIар]: Жэмыхъуэ Мыхьмуд и къуэ Амджэдщ [Амыщщ])

Си лъэпкъ, си къупщхьэ, гум уодзакъэ,
Зэманым лейуэ уэ къуидзар
Ухуиттэкъым зэгъусэу упсэуну.
Узыбгыредзыр гъащIэ гугъум,
Дапхуэдиз псэ уэ бгъэтIылъами
Яхуэгъэгъуакъым, жыгыр мэкI.
Уи лIыгъэр зэи бгъэкIуэдакъым
Пхуэхъуащ псэупIэ къэрал куэд.
Хъуэпсэгъуэр сытым дежи гуащIэщ:
Сыхуейщ си лъэпкъыр зэкъуэтын,
Зэманым дахэу декIуэкIын.
Къэхъунщ зы махуэ мы дунейм!

My clan, my bone, thou bitest at my heart,
Lady Time ill-fated thee
Not to live whole in the homeland.
The vagaries of life have scattered thee,
Not even thy great soul was enough
To intercede on thy behalf–yet the tree kept growing.
Thou hast never lost thy courage,
But thy lot was to live in disparate lands.
Cherished dreams, however, have immense power:
I wish my clan would become whole again,
So that we could prosper together through time.
One day such a thing shall come true in this world!

The author of the booklet appeals for more information regarding the various branches of the Jaimoukha clan in order to reissue a more complete account. 

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