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Wrestling in Dagestan has historic roots. A typical boy is brought up in Dagestan to be a defender and the family would stress the importance of strength. No fest is celebrated without wrestling competition. Dagestan rankings are in martial arts, pistol shooting, and archery. Almost every family has their kids envolved in some type of physical activity which plays in the children’s upbringing.
Russian wrestlers have proved their class by finishing top of the medals table at the European Championship in Serbia. Some of the members of the team have come from Dagestan. Zagalav Abdulbekov became a hero in Dagestan after the Olympic glory at the 1972 munich games. He is now 66 years old! Since Zagalav Abdulbekov Dagestan has had another 14 Olympic champions mainly in the sport of wrestling. Wrestling is such a big deal in Dagestan that even the President of Dagestan said “We’ve adopted a huge sports development program and passed a special law designed to expand sport and physical training in Dagestan, ” Magomedsalam Magomedov President of Dagestan said.
Picture of President of Dagestan: http://newshopper.sulekha.com/magomedsalam-magomedov_photo_1177127.htm
The largest of ethnic groups in Dagestan are the Avars, Dargin, and Chechen. Chechen is right next to Dagestan. A popular dance is the Chechen Dance that the Dagestan perform. Its very interesting to watch because at first you see that the man stamps and struts while the women just glides around the dance floor. By watching the youtube video you think that the guy is just showing his moves but as you continue to watch the dance you understand that the women is ignoring the man and dancing by herself while he tries to impress her. It is interesting to watch the two sexes and how they dance together. Watch the link above to watch a Chechen Dance!
In Dagestan the ability to dance is prized. There is also something Tsovkra Ropewalking which is a popular entertainment in Dagestan. Men balance on a steel rope very high above from the ground. The men perform many dangerous tricks without any safety persuasions. They walk on this rope with the strains of zurna and drums. The scariest and the most dangerous of the tricks is farmingo which is when four men stand on one anothers shoulders and perform blackflips with their eyes covered!
Picture of Ropewalking: http://www.lukeburrage.com/blog/archives/1019/comment-page-1
The Dargins were continually being conquered over the centuries first by the Huns, then by the Turks, the Mongols, the Persians and in the 19th century by Russians. They are the people to protest in speeches and rebel against russian power. The first records of the sixth to seventh centuries contains the first written references of the Dargins. From the 12th to the 13th century a major feudal arose in Kaitag. In the eleventh to twelfth centuries Turkic tribes entered lowland Dagestan, continuing a process of displacement and Turkicization of the indigenous people. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries came the invasions of the Mongols who destroyed the indigenous infidels. Russian Daghestanian connections date from the sixteenth century and Russian conquest of Dagestan began with the Persian camplain of Peter the Great. On October 24th 1813 the Gulistan Treaty made Daghestan part of Russia as a result of the first full scale Russian Persian War.
Dagestan was a geographical concept with borders defined through its neighbors. We have the Shii communities of Azerbaijan in the south, the Christian Georgians in the south and east, and the Chechens in the east and the north. Dagestan neighbors were various Turkic ethnic groups and Buddhist Kalmyks as well as cossacks communities and lastly Christian Russians. Sunni Islam became the strongest common denominator of Dagestani identity. Dagestan itself is populated by no less than 19 different people. The Avars being the largest with 25% of the Republics 2 million inhabitants. The Kumyk who are Turkic people living in the Kumyk Plateau in north Dagestan and south Terek, and the lands bordering the Caspian Sea comprise 12% of the population. Of the total 300,000 kumyk, 82% live in urban areads of Dagestan.
Picture of map: http://springtimeofnations.blogspot.com/2012/09/chechen-ingush-and-armenian-azeri.html
The Dargins inhabited The Caspian coast before being pushed up into the Subal pine and mid-alphine zones of central Dagestan by the recently arrived Turkic Kumyks in the 12th century . It is estimated that between 400,000 and 600,000 people were displaced between 1994 and 1996 by the first Chechen War. Most of these people were ethnic caucasians from Chechnya and Dagestan. While not a large number settled in Moscow and elsewhere, the majority of the people settled in ethnic Russian-dominated territories in southern Russia because of their stability and endless opportunities for employment. As a result, in the 1990s the number of Dargins increased!
Dagestan means “The Mountain Country”. Dargins inhabit all geographic zones of Dagestan from lowland to mountain regions. It is located at the northern edge of the North Caucasus across to the Caspian Sea. It has an area of 50,300 sq km. The population is 2,098,000 of whom 1,222,000 live in rural areas. Dargin economic life revolves around animal husbandry, sheep, and goats in the highlands and cattle in the lowlands, gold, pottery, weaving, and rug making. The high peaks of the mountains was not used until the 20th century. The majority of the Dargins live in the high mountain valleys. Dagestan is rich in oil and natural gas. The major cereal crop are wheat, corn, and rice. Fishing is important along the Caspian Sea.
Map of where Dagestan is located: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dagestan
Landscape picture: http://eng.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/22391/