Monday 30 January 2012

‘Keeka rika’, Epic Circassian War Songs, Heroic Chants, Ballads for the Brave, and British ‘Jingoism’

[Адыгэхэм зауэм къыщаIэта кIий макъхэр; лIыхъужьхэм яхуауса уэрэдхэри усыгъэхэри]

Keeka rika”, the blood-curdling Circassian battle-cry[1]

‘All this was bad enough: still it might have been borne, had it not been that I was favoured with a visit from the jackal, whose cry was so melancholy, shrill, and fearfully wild, that, when numbers howl in concert, which was, unfortunately for my slumbers, the case, it is sufficient to shake the nerves, even of the most stouthearted, who hears them for the first time.

‘It is singular that the war-cry of the Circassians is an exact imitation of the howl of this animal; and, when screamed at the same moment by thousands, is the most fearful, unnatural, and intimidating yell, ever uttered by a people in presence of an enemy. The Russian officers assured me, that so paralysing is its effect upon troops who hear it for the first time, that they are rendered incapable of defending themselves.

‘Nothing short of actual representation can convey any adequate idea of the impetuosity of a Circassian charge; to the very bravest European troops it must be absolutely terrific, being executed literally with the rapidity of lightning, accompanied with a frightful war-cry, resembling, as I before observed, the scream of a jackal: such also is the admirable training of horse and rider, that I daily witness feats of horsemanship, even by the meanest soldier, far superior in dramatic effect to any public equestrian exhibition I ever beheld in Europe, appearing almost impossible for the human body to execute. For instance, a Circassian warrior will spring front his saddle to the earth, plunge his dagger into the breast of the horse of his enemy, again vault into the saddle; then stand erect, strike his adversary, or hit a mark, almost at a hair’s breadth, with his light gun: and all this while his horse is proceeding at full gallop.’ — Edmund Spencer,Travels in Circassia, Krim Tartary, & C. Including a Steam Voyage down the Danube, from Vienna to Constantinople and round the Black Sea, in 1836, London: Henry Colburn, 1837 (2 vols). Online. Available HTTP: <> (accessed 20 December 2011). [Also available on Google Books]

The dementing howl

‘It was assuredly a most exciting scene to behold these brave peasants, armed with every species of weapon—bows, arrows, javelins, muskets, sabres, make the hills around reecho their frightful war-cry, eager for the fray.

‘This war-whoop of the Circassian warriors is indeed terrific, somewhat resembling the howl of a pack of jackals; so startling and earthly, that it is said to have caused insanity in some persons who heard it for the first time. We can easily imagine the panic it might spread among an army composed of the ignorant and superstitious peasants of Russia, surprised in some lonely glen or defile of the Caucasus by a band of these infuriated mountaineers, all yelling their war-cry, as they are accustomed to do when they commence an attack.’  Edmund SpencerTurkeyRussiaBlack Sea and CircassiaLondon: Routledge, 1854, pp 306-7. Online. Available HTTP: <> (accessed 20 December 2011).

Berserkers raging amok

‘The reader may therefore picture to himself the resistless impetuosity of a headlong charge of these flying horsemen of the mountains, sweeping like an avalanche on some devoted body of their country’s foes beneath them,—at the same moment making the heights around reecho with their fearful war-cry, discharging their carbines with terrible effect on coming to close quarters, while the stout staves of the Cossack lances that oppose their course are severed like reeds, by the vigorous and skilfully-directed blows of their admirably tempered blades. They will cut their way through an entire battalion, throw a whole column into disorder, and then as suddenly disappear through the yawning portals of some mountain gorge, or beneath the everlasting shadows of their primeval forests—before the smoke of their last volley, or the dust raised in their wild fray, has cleared off—and before their panic-stricken foes, in spite of their most strenuous efforts, have been able to bring their artillery to bear on the fierce band of guerrillas, who, although coming upon them and disappearing with the rapidity of a clap of thunder, leave yet a memento of their prowess behind them in the scattered bodies of their enemies that everywhere cover the ground.’  Edmund SpencerTurkeyRussiaBlack Sea and CircassiaLondon: Routledge, 1854, pp 363-4. Online. Available HTTP: <> (accessed 23 December 2011).     

War songs

The words (in English) and sheet music (arranged for the pianoforte) of a war song of the Circassians in the 19th century during their long war against the Russians was documented by Edmund Spencer (2005, pp 234-40; available on Google Books).


Raise, oh raisethe banner high!
Arm! arm all, for Attéghéi!
Guard the valley, guard the dell,
Hearth and home, farewell, farewell!

We will dare the battle strife,
We will gladly peril life;
Death or liberty’s the cry!
Win the day or nobly die!

Who would fly when danger calls?
Freemen’s hearts are freedom’s walls;
Heav’n receives alone the brave—
Angels guard the patriot’s grave!

Beats there here a traitor’s heart,
Duped by wily Moscov art,
Who his land for gold would give?
Let him die, or childless live!

Hark! oh hark! the cannon’s roar!
Foe meets foe, to part no more!
Quail, ye slaves, ‘neath freemen’s glance!
Victory’s ours! advanceadvance!

Epic balladeers

‘Circassian bards composed many kinds of songs. Heroic and epic songs were sung in honour of champions who accomplished great feats. Every nation needs its ample share of heroes and conquerors, and this genre provided young warriors with ideals to aspire to. After each famous battle, a descriptive song was composed. The song of Andeimirqan (Андемыркъан), the hero who championed the cause of the poor, a Circassian Robin Hood, stands out as a classic. His exploits inspired Sheibler to compose a cantata ‘Andeimirqan’ in his honour in 1939. Heroic songs were based on wonderful poetry and beautiful tunes, and their structure was very close to song-poems and ballads.
‘Heroic songs were closely associated with songs of praise, usually composed to immortalize feats of war. Heirs, kinsmen or friends of great warriors who fell in battle commissioned bards to expound their heroism. When a minstrel finished composing a ballad, he sang it first in the presence of connoisseurs who acted as censors and editors. It was only when the panel of experts pronounced its judgement in favour that the song was promulgated. The following poem is an account of the heroism of Prince Yelgheroqwe Qanoqwe (Пщы Елгъэрокъуэ Къанокъуэ), potentate of all the Beslanay (Беслъэней; a tribal offshoot of the Kabardians), in one of the myriad wars between the Circassians and their mortal enemies, the Crimean Tatars and Kalmyks:

An arrow bolted from the Hero’s bow,
Shimmering across the sky,
Presaging certain death to the Khan,
And his inimical black swarms.
His dutiful steed Yemish,[2]
Crushed the skulls of the Kalmyks
With his mighty hooves,
Laying myriad corpses all around.
The Tatar vanguard,
 Witnessing such a carnage,
Took to its heels,
Consumed with fear.

After his demise, he was survived by
His one true friend: his Sabre.’

— Amjad Jaimoukha, The Circassians: A HandbookLondon: RoutledgeCurzon (Taylor & Francis); New York: Palgrave and Routledge, 2001, p227.

Vocal manifestations of British sympathy with the Circassian cause:

by Archer Thompson Gurney[3]

SONS of Circassia, for battle prepare!
The flags of the despot are flaunting the air:
The Czar and his Russians our souls would enslave;
Up then, and on them, the young and the brave!

These mountains were made for the valiant and free:
To the home of the eagle no vulture may soar; —
Let our war-shouts be heard like wild blasts o’er the sea,
Let our falchions be bathed in the enemy’s gore!
Ay! infancy, manhood, and age shall unite
To baffle the spells of the blood-wading Czar;
His locusts our fields and our harvests may blight,
But their hosts shall be quench’d in the red flames of war.
Sons of 
Circassia, for battle prepare!
The flags of the despot are flaunting the air:
The Czar and his Russians our souls would enslave;
Up then, and on them, the young and the brave!

Ye children of beauty, our spirits’ delight,
Ye maids of our mountains, oh, join in our cry! —
Bid those lovers who woo ye rush far from your sight,
Till beneath their red falchions the enemies die!
Then, hail them with smiles, and with whispers of bliss,
Let the valiant, the conqueror sink in your arms!
And remember, the cry of Circassia is this, —
First the foe’s gleaming sword, then the maid’s heavenly charms!

Sons of 
Circassia, for battle prepare!
The flags of the despot are flaunting the air:
The Czar and his Russians our souls would enslave:
Up then, and on them, the young and the brave!

Archer Thompson Gurney, Poems. SpringLondon: T. Bosworth, 1853, p45.


Macdermott’s War Song (1877)

Written and composed by G. W. Hunt (1839-1904); sung by Gilbert Hastings MacDermott; inspired by the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78.

“The Dogs of War” are loose and the rugged Russian Bear,
Full bent on blood and robbery, has crawl’d out of his lair;
It seems a thrashing now and then, will never help to tame
That brute, and so he’s out upon the “same old game.”
The Lion did his best to find him some excuse
To crawl back to his den again, all efforts were no use;
He hunger’d for his victim, he’s pleased when blood is shed,
But let us hope his crimes may all recoil on his own head.

We don’t want to fight but by jingo if we do,
We’ve got the ships, we’ve got the men, and got the money too!
We’ve fought the Bear before and while we’re Britons true
The Russians shall not have Constantinople.

The misdeeds of the Turks have been “spouted” thro’ all lands,
But how about the Russians, can they show spotless hands?
They slaughtered well at Khiva, in Siberia icy cold,
How many subjects done to death will never perhaps be told,
They butchered the Circassians, man, woman, yes and child,
With cruelties their Generals their murderous hours beguiled
And poor unhappy Poland their cruel yoke must bear,
Whilst prayers for “Freedom and Revenge” go up into the air.


May he who ’gan the quarrel soon have to bite the dust,
The Turk should be thrice armed for “he hath his quarrel just,”
Tis sad that countless thousands should die thro’ cruel war,
But let us hope most fervently ere long it will be o’er;
Let them be warned, Old England is brave Old England still,
We’ve proved our might, we’ve claimed our right, and ever, ever will,
Should we have to draw the sword our way to victory we’ll forge,
With the battle cry of Britons, “Old England and Saint George!”

Online. Available HTTP: <> (accessed 22 December 2011).


[1] I have tried to interpret the reference of foreign travellers to the Circassian war-cry “Keeka rika” (about which I read many, many years ago, but forgot the source in the mist of time). The best that I could come up with so far are “КIий-гуо” (= cry; din, hubbub), or a derivation thereof, and “КIийкIэрыкIэ” (= what results from shouting). Any help in this regard would be highly appreciated.
[2] Yemish=Емыш=Literally: Indefatigable.
[3] Reverend Archer Thompson Gurney (1820-1887) was an English poet and hymn-writer.

References & bibliography
Bereghwn (Baragunov), V. H. and He’wpeZh., Narodnaya instrumentalnaya muzika adigov (cherkesov) [National Instrumental Music of the Circassians], Nalchik: El’-Fa, 2005. [600 pieces]
Bereghwn (Baragunov), V. H. and Qardenghwsch’ (Kardangushev), Z. P’. (compilers), Adige Weredxemre PshinalhexemreYape Txilh. Narodnie pesni i instrumentalnie naigrishi adigov, tom 1 [Circassian Songs and Instrumental Folk-Tunes, Vol. 1], Moscow: All-Union Book Publishing House ‘Soviet Composer’, 1980. Online. Available HTTP: <> (accessed 21 December 2011). [Edited by E. V. Gippius. This, and the other volumes in the series, are seminal works on Circassian musical lore. Some of the collected songs and chants are very ancient indeed]
— Adige Weredxemre PshinalhexemreYet’wane Txilh. Narodnie pesni i instrumentalnie naigrishi adigov, tom 2 [Circassian Songs and Instrumental Folk-Tunes, Vol. 2], Moscow: All-Union Book Publishing House ‘Soviet Composer’, 1981.
— Adige Weredxemre PshinalhexemreYeschane Txilh. Narodnie pesni i instrumentalnie naigrishi adigov, tom 3 [Circassian Songs and Instrumental Folk-Tunes, Vol. 3, Parts 1 and 2], Moscow: All-Union Book Publishing House ‘Soviet Composer’, 1986, 1990.
Gurney, Archer Thompson, Poems. SpringLondon: T. Bosworth, 1853, p45. [Available on Google Books]
Hunt, G. W., Macdermott’s War Song, London: Hopwood & Crew, 1877.
Mambet (Mambetov), H., ‘‘Wexwm yi Pezhip’er: 1928 Ghem Bax’sen Scheik’wech’ar [The Truth about the Affair: The 1928 Events in Bakhsan]’, in WaschhemaxweNalchik, no. 5, 1992, pp 71-8.
Qardenghwsch’ (Kardangushev), Z. (compiler), Adige Weredizchxer [Ancient Circassian Songs], NalchikElbrus Book Press, 1969. [34 songs; words in Kabardian; sheet music of each song; commentary at end of book]
— Adige Weredizchxer [Ancient Circassian Songs], NalchikElbrus Book Press, 1979. [61 songs; words in Kabardian; no sheet music; stories of the songs at end of the book]
Spencer, Edmund, Travels in Circassia, Krim Tartary, & C. Including a Steam Voyage down the Danube, from Vienna to Constantinople and round the Black Sea, in 1836, London: Henry Colburn, 1837 (2 vols). Online. Available HTTP: <> (accessed 21 December 2011). [Also available on Google Books]
— Turkey, Ruussia, Black Sea and Circassia, London: Routledge, 1854, pp 306-7. Online. Available HTTP: <> (accessed 23 December 2011).
— The Propheet of the CaucasusElibron Classics, Adamant Media Corporation, 2005. [Available for preview on Google Books]

The Circassians in Poland: The Five Princes from the 'Five Mountains'

 [This article was received by mail in 1998 from Marcin Kruszynski, who claims to be the last Polish Circassian. It was edited by Amjad Jaimoukha. The information in square brackets are the editor's notes and additions]

The 'Five Princes' came to Poland from the North Caucasian lands, between the rivers Terek and Kuban. That place was called 'Piatyhorje' ('Five Mountains' in Russian). [In Circassian it was called 'Bgiytxw', literally: 'Five Mountains']. In Tatar it was called 'Beschtan', in reference to the Beschtan mountain, which has five tops. The lands, from this mountain to the west and to the east, were called Kabarda. It was the homeland of the Kabarday [and the closely related Bes(la)nay], tribes. In the 15th and 16th centuries these tribes formed an independent country called 'Cherkassy' in Russian and 'Petyhorcy' in Poland-Lithuania. From one side their border reached the Krym Tatars and from the other side the Temruk tribes. Although Kabarda was independent, it had close ties with the Crimean Tatars, who often used Kabardian warriors in wars against their neighbours. In the years 1555-1560 Kabarda came under Russian rule.

It was in the year 1556 that the Ukrainian prince Dymitro Wisniowiecki (grandfather of Michal-Korybuth Wisniowiecki, who became king of Poland 100 years later), left Poland (Poland, Ukraine, Byelorussia and Lithuania were one country at that time) and came to Russia to fight the Crimean Tatars. He had many successes with his Cossack army. He was the first Cossack and founder of the Zaporozha Cossacks! Tsar Ivan the Terrible appointed him as wojewode (governor) of Kabarda. Prince Dymitro and his Cossacks stayed in Kabarda for several years and ruled the land in a benign and tolerant manner. He won over many Circassian warriors.

In 1561, Tsar Ivan decided to attack Poland. That made it difficult for Prince Dymitro to stay in Russia. He went back home to protect his country in the Ukraine. This move made the Tsar very angry. It is reported that he said, 'Dymitro came to us as a dog and left us as a dog.' But that was the first of his problems. Eventually, prince Dymitro Wisniowiecki was captured in Moldova in 1563 and sent to Istanbul, where he was executed for his attacks on the Tatars.

A few months later, a group of Circassian princes, who were on friendly terms with Dymitro Wisniowiecki, and who were opposed to Russian rule in Kabarda, dispatched a number of their warriors to Poland to ask for help. These princes were marked for death by the Tsar. In August 1561, the Polish king granted 'Iron Letters' (and wrote in the King's Book), to all the 'Petyhorcy' warriors who wanted to come to Poland.

In 1562, five Kabardian princes left their home in the Caucasus and escaped to Poland, together with their families and warriors (Polish writers from that era claim that there were 300 warriors). The Polish king welcomed them with much honours and presents, which made them very satisfied. The names of these princes were as follows:

Kassim Kambulatowicz (Czerkaski).
Gawrila Kambulatowicz (Czerkaski).
Onyszko/Aleksander Kudadek (Czerkaski), son of the very influential West-Circassian prince Sibok/Wasyl Konsaukowicz. Temruk Szymkowicz was family with Sibok and a member of his clan.
Solgien Szymkowicz (Czerkaski), son of Szymek Temruk.
Temruk Szymkowicz (Czerkaski), son of Szymek Temruk.
The Russian Tsar realized that by this move he has lost very good warriors to his enemy, Poland. This made him even more angry.. He sent his envoy Aleksiej Klobukov to Poland to win the princes back, but the 'Petyhorcy' princes gave him the cold shoulder. Most of the Circassian immigrants were already Orthodox Christian, but some of them were still pagan. Later, the progeny of the warriors became Ukrainian/Orthodox, whereas those of the higher classes became Polish/Catholic.

Solgien and Temruk became commanders of special 'Petyhorcy/Cossack' regiments in the Polish army. But it was Temruk who showed the best qualities of a Circassian commander. There are many documents that testify to his heroism. Example: 'On April 13th, 1572, when a strong Turkish army attacked the Polish forces in Moldova, all Polish troops deserted the battlefield in panic, only Temruk with his 'Petyhorski' regiment stayed and fought till the Polish troops recovered and came back to stop the Turks.'

His feats of valour did not go unrewarded. The Polish Sejm (government) and King bestowed upon him the 'Indygenat Polski', which ranked him among the Polish aristocracy. He was granted large estates in Lithuania and Kievan and Podolian Ukraine.

As time went by, the five Circassian princes became more powerful and rich. They all settled in the Podolie region of Ukraine. Every year, fresh Circassian warriors went to Poland to join the special Petyhorcy/Cossack regiments. After a few years, these regiments became an integral part of the Polish army, until 1795, when Poland was occupied and divided by Russia, Prussia and Austria. After the passing away of the Circassian princes who established these regiments, and after the loss of Polish independence, the number of Circassians dwindled, the balance being made up by Polish, Ukrainian and Tatar soldiers. However, the regiments kept their Circassian appearance and characteristics: the customs, weapons and battle tactics. Nowadays, Polish historians admit the enormous influence that the five princes [and their progeny] exerted on the evolution of the Polish army.

The progeny of the Circassian princes were assimilated into Polish society. However, they kept their temperament and martial spirit, especially their animosity towards their mortal enemies, the Russians. When the Russians occupied the Ukraine, the Polish Circassians lost everything.

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.