Military Review

Ubykhi. Part of 1. Pirates of the Black Sea

Geniokhs, zikhi (zigi) and Achaeans (Ahei, Achaeans) have sunk into oblivion, but have left descendants. Descendants not only by blood, but also by a dangerous piracy business. Moreover, their descendants raised the business of their ancestors to a new height. Peculiar to Edmund Hillary, who conquered pirate Everest, were ubykhs.

Now the Ubykh people themselves have practically disappeared. After the Caucasian Wars, the overwhelming part of the Ubykhs went to the seemingly friendly Turkey (although the Turkish ships repeatedly became the Ubykh prey), which in a few years “digested” their friends, completely assimilating them. The few remaining Ubykhs were taken hostage by their own way of life, the rejection of which separated them, and many outlawed them. After all, the overwhelming majority of them had by that time abandoned farming and cattle breeding; instead, men preferred high-yield sea robbery and slave trade.

Therefore, attempts to romanticize this, let the warlike and brave people to the author seem ridiculous, because slave trade - one of the most cave and dishonest acts of human stories. The famous ethnographer, archeologist, historian and actual state councilor of the Russian Empire, Adolph Berger, wrote about this dark side of the brave fighters of the mountains: “Plenoprodavstvo, a constant companion of robberies and forays, entered the manners and customs of mountain peoples and even spread to their own children ...”

Thus, in some sources, a repulsive custom is indicated, spread among the Ubykhs who were the flagship of the slave trade. For a huge dowry (ransom), some families “married” their own daughters and sisters to Turkey. In those circumstances, this “marriage” in fact constituted a sale into slavery. By the way, so many Ubykhs and migrated to Turkey, because they had a kind of kinship there.

The Ubykhs resided in territories in what is now Sochi, using the mouths of rivers flowing into the Black Sea, such as Khosta, Mzymta, Shah, Kudepsta, etc., as a kind of base for their pirate ships. Despite the fact that the term Ubykhia is often mentioned, as are Geniochia and Circassia (in Turkey, for example, Circassians generally referred to all people from the North Caucasus - Adygs, Abkhazians, Shapsugs, Natukhais and Ubykhs themselves), with the definition of “state” , united and marked by boundaries, has nothing in common. It is simply the name of the territory in which the people are mainly inhabited by culture and language.

Circassians. National Museum of Adygea, Maykop

The administrative structure of the Ubkh society was distinguished by conservatism and patriarchality, being practically tribal. The power over each race was an aristocrat (the patriarch of the oldest name, they did not have princes in a certain sense) - the head of the national union, and each clan owned its territory with all the ensuing consequences.

At the same time, the Ubykhs often created both tribal alliances even with kindred peoples (Abkhazians, Abazins, etc.), and fought with their kindred Circassian "colleagues" to rob small wars for control of territory or the right to single-handedly plunder merchant ships. By the end of the Caucasian wars, when part of the Abkhaz, not wanting to be a toy in the policies of Turkey and the West against Russia, became the empire’s citizenship, the Ubykh troops conducted punitive raids against former allies and essentially “relatives”. However, the Ubykh clans themselves were almost not hostile - this was due to the tradition of atalychism, when a very young Ubykh guy was sent to be brought up to his neighbors, or even to another tribe.

Ubykhi. Part of 1. Pirates of the Black Sea

Circassian war galley

Despite a certain degree of fragmentation, the Ubykhs' military affairs were very highly placed. Unlike many Adyghe (Circassian) peoples, the military units of the Ubykhs could well be called an army. It was clearly organized and structured. There was avant-garde, cover units and supply groups. It is just a positive (if I may say so) effect on the pirate craft. In fact, the Ubykh commanders did not see much difference between the pirate attack and the conduct of hostilities. Thus, for all their small numbers, the Ubykhs were strongly distinguished even among the other kindred Circassian pirates.

The ships of this unusually warlike people deserve special mention. In part, these were the distant descendants of the Geniochian Kamars, because They were also fun, although they sometimes carried sailing weapons. But to compare them with camaras in everything would be the height of incorrectness. These ships were much larger and more likely looked like galleys, and in some sources they were called brigantines. It is worth making a small reservation confirming the use of sails. In Russian navy rowing brigantines existed, therefore sailors who saw the Ubykh pirate ship, sailing on oars and under sails, called them their usual term.

In the foreground is a model of a war galley. National Museum of Adygea, Maykop

The ships of the Ubykhs were of high speed and maneuverability at that time, and were sufficiently seaworthy. So, one of the princes Aublaa (princely Abkhazian and Ubykh aristocratic surname), namely the Sochi prince Ahmet Aublaa (it is believed that he was an Abkhazian by blood - the consequences of atalichestvo) in the first half of the 19 of the 20th century owned an extraordinary almost mythical brigantine. On it, at the head of a militant detachment of thugs, not only attacked merchant ships on the high seas, but also made desperate raids even on the Crimean and Turkish coasts, deftly escaping the pursuit of large ships of both the Russian Empire and Turkey. By the way, the glory of Ahmet Aubla on the Black Sea shores could not only compete in scale, but sometimes even surpassed the pirate glory of Henry Morgan or William Kidd.

Ubykhs formed entire fleets of war galleys, which, of course, it was already impossible to carry with them into the Caucasian forests, therefore the secluded estuaries served as shelter for them. These ships by their design belonged to the family of Circassian ships. By the end of the 18 century, the Ubykhs, like the rest of the Circassian peoples, began to arm their ships with small, light falcon coins. The guns were either bought abroad from Ubykhia, including in Turkey, or were mined in battle. The diameter of the barrel of the falconet did not exceed 50-60 mm, so they were used during boarding. Of course, they could not cause any damage to a large ship, even from a decent distance. But…

From here, by the way, the specific tactics of naval combat in the Ubykhs, which very much resembled the tactics of the geniokhs - a quick and sudden rapprochement with the enemy's ship and capture in boarding combat. When a large ship was attacked, the assault was carried out by several galleys from different sides. The maneuverable squat, independent of the direction and force of the wind, the galleys achieved the effect of surprise, attacking at night, in the fog or from the side of the sun.

Falconet cannon

If it was not possible to achieve the proper effect of surprise, the arrow-pirates with the help of flint-guns and the above-indicated falconet tried to suppress the recollected team with fire in order to become a ship aboard a ship. As soon as the boarding hooks sank into the wooden sides of the victim, the boarding team was instantly on the deck. The fate of the ship was sealed.

The fighters of such assault detachments were armed with musketones or, so-called, boarding pistols. it weapon, capable of firing grapeshot, having no accuracy in view of the design, had a great destructive power, and the weight of the grapeshot reached 80 grams. Also, the pirates, of course, were armed with pistols. But the distinctive feature of their weapons was, of course, the cold weapons so characteristic of the Caucasus.

Dagger kama

The pirates' favorite weapon was checkers, but their arsenal was not limited to this. The elongated and enlarged daggers of Kama, which somewhat distantly resembled Roman short swords of gladiuses, were very popular, although the latter did not have a long narrow dale along the blade. And it was quite exotic against the background of other cold weapons, walking in the pirate environment, were daggers, sometimes referred to as swords, quadrat (the name of the kaddar is also found). Kvaddara has a straight blade with a slight bend, having a one-sided sharpening. At the same time, most often the chain mail that existed in the Circassian military environment was not popular at sea - it was worth falling overboard as a fighter instantly went to feed the fish.


Trade loot went briskly. Turkish businessmen flew to the “markets” of Ubykhia and Abkhazia. And sometimes the Ubykhs themselves went to the Turkish shores with notable “goods”, including people. In Turkey, there were even dozens of Circassian "trading" families settled in the Port for the convenience of doing business. Even during the Caucasian wars and the cruise of the Russian ships, in full conspiracy, giving light signals, the Turkish ships of merchants (in fact the smugglers and slave owners), pestered the shores of the North Caucasus. War, piracy and any disasters of the Caucasus have always brought a otter of Turkey and other countries.

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  1. Cat
    Cat 14 August 2018 05: 36
    Sincerely thanks!
    To be honest, I never listened about Ubykhs!
    The very word "Ubykh" - "kill" inspires certain associations ....
    Sincerely, Kitty!
    1. Bar1
      Bar1 14 August 2018 07: 35
      By the way, the glory of Akhmet Aublaa on the Black Sea coast in its scale could not only compete, but even sometimes surpassed the pirate glory of Henry Morgan or William Kidd.

      Well, about Morgan and Kid there is a lot to read, but about this Akhmet Aublaev the first time I hear, sources?
      1. Bar1
        Bar1 14 August 2018 09: 02
        The Ubykhs lived in the territories in the region of present Sochi, using the mouths of the rivers flowing into the Black Sea, such as Khosta, Mzymta, Shahe, Kudepsta, etc., as a kind of base for their pirate ships.

        Sochi is the river that gave the name to the city of Sochi. Of course, the etymology is not Russian according to TI, Adyghe is, well then, what Circassians lived in Yugoslavia / Slovenia along which the Socha River flows in Italian - Izonets? In the times of WW1 there were protracted battles of Austrians and Italians.
        Beautiful turquoise river


        Well, there were no Adygof / Circassians in Yugoslavia.
        -Sochi / Sochi-Ruski-ozochitsya.
        1. Michael_Zverev
          Michael_Zverev 15 August 2018 19: 53
          Quote: Bar1

          Well, there were no Adygof / Circassians in Yugoslavia.
          They still live there in Serbia (Kosovo) and Macedonia. Circassians / Circassians were resettled there by the authorities of Porta. True, the majority are now supplanted by Albanians, who are extremely hostile to them.

      2. Eastern wind
        14 August 2018 10: 04
        Read Samira Hotko, and even better if you can, visit the museums of Sochi, Maikop, Tuapse, and at least the same Novorossiysk. Local museum publications are almost never found in bookstores.
        1. Bar1
          Bar1 14 August 2018 12: 14
          yes we read your Samira Hotho
          Since the middle of the XIV century. Circassia not only enjoys freedom - it dominates the space from the Don to Abkhazia and from Taman to Sunzha. In this era, a geographical concept arises - “Circassian steppes”. Tana is a city in Upper Circassia. And the Tatars travel from Crimea to Astrakhan, "going around Circassia." Tamerlan inspires fear, but he is fleeting. This is followed by even greater scope throughout the fifteenth century. And in 1500, according to J. Interiano, Cherkessia still occupied the maximum territory in the history of its existence - from the Don to Avogazia (Abkhazia), and its Black Sea coast was 300 miles long. By 1600, Circassia was losing almost all the land between the Don and the Kuban, but it stretches as much as possible to the east and abuts against the Caspian Sea. But since we have chosen the external signs for creating periodization, we must note the very suitable finale of the Big Horde in 1502. It was the Big Horde (Takht Eli or Throne Possession) that was the successor to the Golden Horde. Her weakness on the Ugra in 1480 is one of the central dates of Russian history. This date is also noticeable for the history of Circassia.

          so Circassia is a huge land from the Don to Abkhazia. Let's see the old maps. The Paris map of 1812 is exactly the one that H1 used when entering Russia.

          we see that the Cherkasy lived not only "before the Don", but also north of the Don, and they were called the Cossacks Cherkasy. Therefore, this Samir Hotkho of yours is not a serious researcher, because he discards a significant number of facts and considers only the facts of the 19th -20th centuries, ignoring the numerous presence on the old maps of the Cherkasy people, and the Cherkasy are not Circassians.
          The name of Cherkasy was torn off from the history of the people and given to insignificant mountain tribes (the number of Circassians even now is a hundred thousand), but how many were then at the beginning of the 19th century? Not at all.
          1. Servisinzhener
            Servisinzhener 15 August 2018 10: 14
            You are, as always, in your repertoire. Now here are the Cossacks Cherkasov and the Circassians united.
            1. Bar1
              Bar1 15 August 2018 19: 00
              Quote: Servisinzhener
              You are, as always, in your repertoire. Now here are the Cossacks Cherkasov and the Circassians united.

              no, the Circassians are a synthetic fabricated people, the whole history is taken from the Cossack Cherkasy, as well as culture and all the merits. This is the work of the historians of the German-Miller school, both the tsarist and the Soviet period.
              1. Servisinzhener
                Servisinzhener 16 August 2018 10: 29
                It is simply enchanting. lol And the men do not even know that it turns out that the nationality to which they relate themselves is fictitious. I’m telling you as a resident of the Republic of Adygea. Which every day sees and communicates with Circassians and Circassians, as well as with representatives of other peoples of the North Caucasus. Yes, and the Caucasus. And who in no way belong to the Cossacks and Cossack culture. This I already say as a descendant of the Kuban Cossacks. hi
      3. brn521
        brn521 14 August 2018 10: 55
        Quote: Bar1
        but I hear about this Akhmet Aublaev for the first time

        If we pay attention to weapons, then in fact there is doubt about the scope of their enterprises. Checker in boarding? It is possible if you attack some river barge. But she is far from boarding saber. It is necessary to chop tackle (in order to cut the tarred rope into a thick hand, no sharpness and polishing will help, you need a heavy blade), cut through or break open (acting with a blade like a crowbar) hatches and doors, cut in an enclosed space and narrow passages. A checker in such conditions at the first boarding will turn into a piece of saw, and its owner will lose fingers and giblets, because you have to hide behind the blade and guard, nothing more. And what is the guard at the checkers?
        1. Bar1
          Bar1 14 August 2018 12: 42
          Quote: brn521
          If we pay attention to weapons, then in fact there is doubt about the scope of their enterprises. Checker in boarding?

          Well, yes, does the nymph really give a brush?

          about the sea cossack cherkass stories, here is the image of the sea cossack banner

          This banner of the troops of her imperial majesty Zaporizhzhya grassroots made koshto infantry fighting Tokoz on the Black Sea as well on the rivers Dnieper and Danube.

          in the picture we see a three-masted, three-decked cannon warship, and TI says that the Cossacks only sailed on seagulls. Here you go.
          1. brn521
            brn521 14 August 2018 16: 49
            Quote: Bar1
            in the picture we see a three-masted, three-deck cannon warship, and TI says that the Cossacks only sailed on gulls.

            Imperial Majesty's infantry sailed on ships belonging to Imperial Majesty, that's all. Under the flag with a double-headed eagle and the archangel Michael. What differences can there be?
            Wreck on a three-masted ship? In fact, shipbuilding and shipbuilding at this level is a whole industry. The ability to cope with a full-fledged three-mast, and even on the Black Sea, and even with direct sails - to learn this, you need several years of drill. Or even more years of service with a merchant, starting with a young man. But the forearm from constant work with gear will become so powerful that you don’t even want to look at toothpicks, such as checkers and daggers.
            1. Bar1
              Bar1 14 August 2018 17: 50
              Quote: brn521
              Imperial Majesty's infantry sailed on ships belonging to Imperial Majesty, that's all. Under the flag with a double-headed eagle and the archangel Michael. What differences can there be?

              don’t you see that it’s the Cossacks of Zaporizhzhya, and not the infantry of the imperial majesty? According to the TI, the Cossacks did not submit to the St. Petersburg authorities, therefore E2 eliminated the Zaporizhzhya Cossacks.
        2. Weyland
          Weyland 14 August 2018 22: 57
          Quote: brn521
          to cut a tarred rope into a thick hand, no sharpness and polishing will help, you need a heavy blade

          sure? With a saber of Genoese ("gurda") or Solingen ("ters-maymun") production, they cut a standing cloak (for a minute, felt 20-25 mm thick), a man - from shoulder to groin, or cut off the head of a bull!
  2. parusnik
    parusnik 14 August 2018 07: 01
    Thank you, we are waiting for the second part ...
  3. vladcub
    vladcub 14 August 2018 08: 20
    Wind, thank you very much for the Ubykhs. I was born and lived among the Circassians and was interested in the history of the highlanders. But I met information that in the seventies in Turkey the last Ubykh died, and it turned out Ubykhs were still alive.
    Regarding the atalism, the "second father," I read from Gardanov that the custom of atalism was a common Caucasian one. An Ubykh boy could be brought up by the Bzhedukhs or the same Abkhaz, and then he returned to his family. There were also atalychki when the girl was brought up in another family. Usually, before marriage, the girls returned to their mother, but sometimes it happened that the girl-girl did not return to her mother before marriage, and then the kalym, the ransom for the bride, remained atalychka.
    I read from Gardanov that there were cases when a Cossack acted in the role of a “second father” and, on the contrary, a Cossack girl was brought up among the highlanders.
    Perhaps Aubla was left an orphan and adopted by the Ubykh?
    1. Mikhail Matyugin
      Mikhail Matyugin 14 August 2018 12: 09
      Quote: vladcub
      I was born and lived among the Circassians and was interested in the history of the highlanders. But I met information that in the seventies in Turkey the last Ubykh died, and it turned out Ubykhs were still alive.

      By and large, both the Circassians and the Ubykhs are tribes of the same people - the Circassians. And about those Ubykhs in Turkey - apparently they heard something about the "muhajirs", "not resigned" emigrants from the Caucasus, whom the Russian imperial administration forced to migrate to the territory of the Ottoman Empire following the results of the Caucasian war. A lot of them then scattered across Western Asia.
    2. Weyland
      Weyland 14 August 2018 23: 04
      Quote: vladcub
      The Ubykh boy could be brought up by the Bjeduhs or the same Abkhazians, and then he returned to his family

      What was well known to the same Pushkin - in his poem "Tazit" adekh (ie adig) Gasub gives his son to atalism to a Chechen:
      "" Thirteen years have passed,
      How are you, a stranger has come to aul,
      He handed me a weak baby
      To raise from it
      I made a brave Chechen. "
      1. Korsar4
        Korsar4 15 August 2018 08: 30
        Yes. Pushkin, as usual, is brilliant. Like the struggle between blood and parenting.
        1. Weyland
          Weyland 15 August 2018 19: 36
          Quote from Korsar4
          Like the fight between blood and parenting

          What does blood have to do with it? It’s just that Chechens have much tougher notions of honor than Adygs - Tazit brought up by a Chechen followed Chechen rules: when you track down an enemy, you should not be distracted by catching a runaway slave or robbing merchants; but only a victory in fair battle is considered worthy - an attack on a wounded and unarmed is unworthy of a horse!
  4. Korsar4
    Korsar4 14 August 2018 08: 35
    How many peoples "disappeared like obry".

    Romanticize, of course, is not worth it. But any skill delights.
  5. Liberum
    Liberum 14 August 2018 10: 05
    Very one-sided presentation of material about the Ubykhs, which did not surprise
    nevertheless, I recommend readers to google themselves and read a more reliable story about these people, if it is interesting of course.
  6. Roni
    Roni 14 August 2018 11: 54
    About pirates is always interesting, especially about such strangers.
    but about atalychestvo is interesting.

    ““ It's a long-forgotten concept, ”Fox explained. - It means:
    create a bond. ”

    On the one hand, another connection, the strengthening of good neighborly relations. There are many options, which means it was justified (twin cities and kunaki, godmothers, brother-in-law from the names of children to each other at birth).

    Interestingly, all the children from the family were so exchanged?
    “By kinship of the gypsy soul” or by calculation, or to the most experienced “fathers”?

    “Well,” Kamal said then, “I cry for blood with blood.
    To your father who sent you, I want to give my son. "

    On the other hand, parenting in a strange family can be parenting without whims, so as not to shame your own. It can be said in Spartan, although there they were still not in the family, but were immediately sent to the barracks and to the military.

    With girls, more often than not, of course, of course, especially if there were a lot of them.

    The Spaniards in South America in the colonial period respected this tradition: they gave the eldest daughter to marry, she gave birth to children, the middle daughter to the monastery, where she received education and good upbringing, led an active cultural life (for which her parents paid a lot), kept the younger one to take care of them in old age.

    In the Caucasus, some peoples still have one of the girls in a large family who does not have the right to marry, if many children of other family members, or in the case of the death of the mother of these children, she remains childless and cares for the other children.
  7. nivander
    nivander 14 August 2018 13: 32
    By the way, several times the Ubykh princes conspired with the Zaporizhzhya and Don chieftains about joint raids on the north-eastern coast of Anatolia
    1. Cat
      Cat 14 August 2018 16: 29
      It’s normal practice, where it’s bad, it’s bad for you, then we are with you!
      According to alatache, the Ubykh traditions have something in common with another pirate tribe - the Vikings, where it was also customary to give their children up for education.
    2. Mikhail Matyugin
      Mikhail Matyugin 14 August 2018 22: 15
      Quote: nivasander
      By the way, several times the Ubykh princes conspired with the Zaporizhzhya and Don chieftains about joint raids on the north-eastern coast of Anatolia

      And also, a much larger number of times, they conspired with the Crimean Tatars about joint actions against the Ukrainian Cossacks. We all remember. To forgive? yes, we forgive, but remember.

      And yet, very often it was the peoples of the Caucasian victory with their fleet who acted as intermediaries in the slave trade of the Slavic-Russian slaves and slaves. driven to Crimea by the Crimean Tatars from raids on Russian and Ukrainian lands. This we also remember. And it’s not just so many tribes of the Western Caucasus that were expelled to Turkey following the results of the Caucasian War by the Russian administration.

      If this had not happened, then most likely in the Western Caucasus it would have been the same as in Chechnya and Ingushetia, and there would have been no Sochi or the ski resort of Krasnaya Polyana, and there would have been a Kbaad tract where a guerrilla war would have been going on ...
      1. Moskovit
        Moskovit 15 August 2018 00: 40
        The exact same thought came up when I visited the museum of the city of Sochi. Only resettlement could solve the problem with these people dramatically and effectively.
      2. Koshnitsa
        Koshnitsa 15 August 2018 14: 29