Military Review

Ishkil and Baranta. The legal norm and the reason for the predatory raid


Caucasian polyphony on a political map

The Caucasus is an unusually complex region. He was, is and will be. An extraordinary number of peoples and sub-ethnic groups, which within themselves were divided into clans, societies and rural communities, are riddled with many relationships and at the same time unusually isolated. Chechen, Dagestan and Ingush tukhums and teips (large families, clan associations, etc.), Avar telibil, Dargin gin and Lezghin sihil all competed with each other using cold, and later gunshot weapons. Apart from large state formations in the form of many principalities, khanates and other things. The competition was regular raids and raids with the seizure of cattle, property and the people themselves. Sometimes such actions were not supported by the entire community or threatened with a major military conflict, in which neither the robbed nor the robbed were interested.

Classic adat i.e. the complex of traditionally formed local legal and domestic institutions, which could differ dramatically among different peoples and individual communities, did not work in the conflict of two clans, societies and entire khanates or principalities. That is why at that moment another “legal” practice appeared on the stage - the baranta / baramte, which in Dagestan was called “Ishkil” (“Ishkilya”).

Ishkil (baranta) as it is

In the most general sense, Ishkil is the seizure of property of the debtor's relatives or villagers in order to force him to pay the delayed debt or to encourage the defendant to satisfy the plaintiff with the performance of another kind of obligations. So, in the lands of Dagestan it was the plaintiff's original right to attack the defendant’s villagers and seize their property or themselves, in order to force the defendant to pay the overdue debt. At the same time, there was some difference between Ishkil and the barant. When they began to abuse Ishkil, then in fact this practice turned into a legalized form of racketeering or a kind of declaration of war.

However, in conditions of constant civil strife, it was almost impossible to distinguish one from the other. For example, if one society wanted to gain independence from a powerful neighbor who was paid tribute, it took Ishkil from it in the form of cattle or hostages, thus exerting political pressure on the enemy and giving a hint to the allies. A strong neighbor could either forcefully return Ishkil and conduct a military expedition, or, having assessed the risks and the situation with a hostile environment, abandon this idea with well-known political losses. There could be a reverse situation, when, instead of the tribute, they took Ishkil in order to force the conquered to reconcile themselves to their fate.

Ishkil and Baranta. The legal norm and the reason for the predatory raid

Usually Ishkil was taken to recover losses on overdue debt and due to cases of thieves' raids that caused harm to the plaintiff. There were, of course, private, so to speak, everyday cases of applying this practice. So, it was used in property disputes between spouses from different villages belonging to different tukhums, but this was rare, because It was strictly forbidden to marry a stranger in many clans. Ishkil could also be taken for the destruction of the pastures of one village by cattle from the village of another. The war for livestock grazing is generally a separate page in the conflicts of the Caucasus, which is still relevant today, by the way.

Ishkil himself was taken by cattle or weapons, but they did not disdain to take amanat hostages, who in case of non-payment of the debt were sold into slavery. At the same time, the practice of Ishkil could be prohibited inside the free society itself, but be approved by it on the external side. So, the Andalal Free Society (a society in the mountainous part of Dagestan inhabited by Avars), in which the levy of Ishkil on its territory was forbidden under the threat of a fine of a bull, was punished by the same fine for a person who tried to prevent such “justice” already outside the territory of Andalala.

Scandinavian procedure

The procedure for collecting Ishkil was as follows. The injured party summoned the “defendant” to the court of his or her neutral community. If the defendant did not appear in court, then a letter was sent to him with a direct warning about the right to use the barant. The letter usually drove the kunak of the injured party, which traditionally had full rights to defend the interests of the injured party. Kunak also had the right to directly capture Ishkil - property or hostages.

Here is one of many examples of such a letter from the plaintiff to the defendant from a certain Ramadan of Barshamai to Atsi Kharakhinsky:

“Peace be upon you, the mercy and blessings of Allah. May Allah protect you from Satanic malice. Amen.
With the receipt of this letter, a debt was issued, loaned to you according to your contract and known to my kunak Utsisai, the submitter of this letter. Otherwise, I will take ishkil through it, as it is allowed to take. You will hear the rest from the mouth of the submitter of this letter. ”

If the defendant showed considerable belligerence and obstinacy, then Ishkil was forcibly seized. So, kunak, and more often the plaintiff himself with a group of fighters stopped on a mountain road that led from the village of the defendant. Considering that the villages were single communities, consisting of two or four clans, there was no need to have great selectivity - Ishkil was imposed on everyone in a crowd on absolutely legal grounds. Almost the very first convoy was attacked and property or hostages were taken. However, it was necessary to attack openly and in broad daylight, because it was not robbery prohibited by the adat, but a “legitimate” form of “justice”.

Naturally, such a legal norm was firmly tied to practical hostilities and sometimes not only did not resolve conflicts, but only exacerbated them. Here is an example of another letter from which it becomes clear that a clash is brewing between two large societies:

“The noble lord ruler Eldar khan-bek wishes peace, mercy and blessings of Almighty Allah to the members of the village court, elders, hajis and kadi of the town of Argvani (Avar community in the north of Dagestan).
May Allah Almighty protect them from all troubles!
Let it be known to you that we have captured an inviolable letter-submitter from your fellow villagers in Ishkil so that he can be intercessed for the property of one of our fellow countrymen Salman, who was captured by you in Ishkil, and then released him at the request of his kunak, who was commissioned to pay damages to us. Salman demands the return of the gun and saber that you took to Ishkil. If you do not return this property, then we will take Ishkil for the second and third time, until this lawsuit is resolved and completed. It is in your capabilities. Be healthy!"

Ishkil - just a reason for robbery and war?

Of course, the Highlanders tried to improve the mechanism of Ishkil. So, there were numerous agreements between villages (societies and larger entities, up to the khanates), which regulated the rules and conditions of the mechanism for applying Ishkil in their territory when there was a reason for its practical application. Such agreements were concluded both orally, in the presence of respected witnesses, and in writing.

However, Ishkil had one birth injury. Ishkil could appear as a real legal tool for resolving disputes under only one condition. The plaintiff and the defendant, whoever they were, the whole free society or an individual, should have been in equal position. As soon as the scales deviated somewhat, Ishkil turned into an occasion to usurp power, robbery, hostage-taking and a whole punitive operation.

Moreover, always in the end, the defendant in the practice of Ishkil was one or another mountain society, i.e. these were almost interstate claims. A full member of society could only be a warrior. This introduced special military nuances into this “legal” norm.

Nomadic peoples, who just called Ishkil a barant, used this legal practice most often not to resolve disputes, but to legitimize the next predatory raid. They even had the specific term “Barymtachi” (“Baryntachi”), meaning herding herds, hiding behind the norm of Ishkil.

They even destroyed a hint of Ishkil’s peacekeeping function and the social aspects of mountain society, or rather, their change. Over time, the importance of the nobility began to increase. The highland aristocracy taxed mere mortals with ever-increasing taxes, turning them into practically disenfranchised mob. Having many levers of pressure, including violence, the nobility began to use Ishkil as a clever tool to legitimize debt slavery.

Sunset Discredited Practices

The first fighters with Ishkil were Muslims who began the religious expansion of the Caucasus. For them, Ishkil was a primitive barbaric practice. To replace him, as well as to replace the adat, Sharia should have come. But for the nobility, Ishkil was already a very profitable norm, so they could not get rid of this practice on the move. Only in the territory of Imamat ishkil retreated a little and was smoothed by Islam.

The Russian Empire also faced the problem of Ishkil. At first, however, not wanting to ruin the foundations, the Russian authorities looked at Ishkil through the fingers, and sometimes they themselves applied this practice as the most familiar to local residents. But the more the Russian military command became acquainted with the use of scaffold, the faster it understood the destructive and internecine potential of this norm.

Already in the first half of the 19th century, the practice of Ishkil was considered illegal arbitrariness, because under conditions of disunity and inequality it led only to robberies and robberies. As a result, this legal norm began to disappear. On the one hand, the nobility, who accepted the citizenship of Russia, vowed not to use Ishkil, and on the other hand, its opponents were supporters of the imamat, who, although it was destroyed, managed to work to eradicate this norm. Erasing the borders between the numerous khanates, state forces, Maysum and principalities of the Caucasus, the isolation of which dictated the need for this legal norm, also served as a disappearance of baranta.

Strange as it may seem, until the establishment of Soviet power in the Caucasus, echoes of Ishkil and barants continued to terrorize the local population. Various groups, guided by their independent ideas, tried to cover up the banal robbery with a legitimate basis. But old vestiges are generally able to emerge from the darkness of centuries during the period of weakening of central state power.
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  1. Pessimist22
    Pessimist22 April 25 2020 05: 44 New
    Wild peoples, the darkness of centuries there continues to this day.
  2. cost
    cost April 25 2020 07: 20 New
    The institute of Ishkil was well known to other peoples of Dagestan, leaving, like the Avars, a peculiar imprint on the local legal proceedings. The custom was known to the Dargins as “hash,” to the Kaitagians as “baramtai.” Here, the collection of debt by seizing property was carried out by a person authorized by the administration; among Usishins, it was called "pashlagula"
  3. cost
    cost April 25 2020 07: 22 New
    Oddly enough, but until the establishment of Soviet power, the echoes of Ishkil and the barants continued to terrorize the local population.

    In the Criminal Code of the RSFSR of 1926 and in the first Criminal Code of the Uzbek SSR, the barant was provided for among the crimes constituting the remnants of local customs. Article 200 of the RSFSR Criminal Code defined the barant as “unauthorized taking of cattle or other property, without appropriating it, solely for the purpose of forcing the victim or his relatives to give satisfaction for the insult or reward for the property damage
    1. knn54
      knn54 April 25 2020 13: 52 New
      Even in Soviet times, party organizations and chairmen of collective farms / state farms walked with the service weapon in the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.
      1. vladcub
        vladcub April 25 2020 15: 00 New
        I heard such rumors, but I honestly did not believe it. Indeed, in the beginning of the 70s, it seemed that anarchy had irrevocably gone, which means that the PM of the collective farm chairman needs an umbrella like a fish
  4. cost
    cost April 25 2020 07: 24 New
    Here is an article! It is written so thoroughly that there’s practically nothing to add
  5. Ros 56
    Ros 56 April 25 2020 07: 37 New
    Interestingly, such things must be studied at school in order to know what kind of people live with you in the same state. Maybe there would be less disagreement.
  6. Peter is not the first
    Peter is not the first April 25 2020 07: 50 New
    What a complex relationship and subtle nuances, you rob at night, a robber, rob during the day, you take Ishkil. am Until a strong external power and / or religion established order there, they would have been small, fragmented and always fighting among themselves tribes.
  7. apro
    apro April 25 2020 08: 07 New
    It’s all according to the concepts. If I rob and I’m climbing it means it’s good and according to the law. If they rob me and it’s climbing it very badly ... and most likely it’s also legal. Everyone understands. We are not like that ... life is like that. ..
  8. vladcub
    vladcub April 25 2020 12: 21 New
    That racket of the dashing 90s, that Ishkil in the Middle Ages is one essence of robbery
  9. vladcub
    vladcub April 25 2020 12: 49 New
    "in the period of weakening of the central state power", EVERYTHING is possible. Do you remember from history what happened during the Civil War? If in Dagestan almost every aul has its own ethnos, and within the ethnos its own customs, then ... the "merry-go-round" was terrible. Naturally, the Ishkil held out for a long time.
    Below comrade Rich cites an article of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR, probably - Criminal Code 1927-1929?
  10. vladcub
    vladcub April 25 2020 12: 52 New
    Quote: Ros 56
    Interestingly, such things must be studied at school in order to know what kind of people live with you in the same state. Maybe there would be less disagreement.

    You are right: we knew much more medieval Europe than our history.
    1. Malibu
      Malibu April 25 2020 12: 55 New
      Quote: vladcub
      You are right: we knew much more medieval Europe than our history.

      And on this we were caught and very clearly .. Now we are trying to tell, but no one believes referring to wikis and google ..
      These are the things in the historical archival department ..
    2. Catfish
      Catfish April 25 2020 18: 23 New
      Glory, hello! drinks
      What's the use that we now know all this? The article is excellent, I read it with great interest on the topic "how it was and how it began." But after all, all these "proud Caucasian people" have not changed at all since then, how they lived by robbery and banditry, and now they live, only they do not act so openly. Their mentality cannot be altered, they seem to be stuck in the early Middle Ages and have no desire to crawl out of there. Remember the nineties: everything is right under the tracing paper - and wars, and robbery, and slaves, and satellite phones with the Internet do not affect their identity in any way.
      PS Dear administration, this is not inciting ethnic hatred, but simply an expressed opinion on an urgent problem with which we still have to coexist for a long time. hi
      1. vladcub
        vladcub April 25 2020 20: 02 New
        Good evening Kostya.
        You're right: some peoples live in the 21st century according to the canons of the Middle Ages.
        And some are cooler: yesterday they descended from a palm tree. Do you remember, on the site they talked about South Africa and Rhodesia: while whites were and flourished, and then ... "soup with a cat"
        1. Catfish
          Catfish April 25 2020 20: 10 New
          Here, damn it, Slava! Again! Why didn't the cat please you? And where are they just shoving us, what are we to blame? We live, we don't bother anyone, we fix the stoves, and here we go back: "Soup with a cat", what if I don't want to? laughing drinks
          1. vladcub
            vladcub April 26 2020 12: 42 New
            I did not know that cats are engaged in the repair of stoves. I know Matroskin, but that he knew how to milk a cow.
            Primus seen in the movies and rusty in metal. And I saw the kirogaz live, but I was not allowed to light it up. I even refueled it, but it was not allowed to light it up. But I can still use a "hot-iron" iron. Kaganets or kyrosin lamp are familiar to me
        2. phair
          phair April 26 2020 04: 13 New
          Hmm ... In Vladivostok, too, it was under the nod. Then the "red arrow" came and that was it. The power of the bandits has ended.
  11. aglet
    aglet April 25 2020 20: 03 New
    Quote: Peter is not the first
    so they would be small, fragmented and always fighting among themselves, tribes

    and what has changed now? religion they have, basically, in words, for external use, there is no power there, not counting the power of tribal leaders, 100 years of civilization somehow passed by
    1. Catfish
      Catfish April 25 2020 20: 11 New
      You are right, and they only need one thing from civilization: to change batons to guns, so that it would be handy to kill.
  12. cat Rusich
    cat Rusich April 25 2020 21: 27 New
    Today we have "collection agencies" - we entrust debt collection to "professionals", the methods are practically the same as those of "barymtachi", and collector workers from the "former" ...
  13. av58
    av58 April 26 2020 20: 07 New
    In the 20s - 30s. in the RSFSR there was a criminal offense, which was also called "baranta", and it consisted of stealing livestock from collective farm activists.
  14. Serpet
    Serpet 1 May 2020 16: 12 New
    Interestingly, I learned something new. Thank. good