Freedom for the man is more than peace and motherland.

Circassian treasure rueful dreams, Circassian hearth is their supreme, but freedom, freedom for the man is more than peace and motherland.” Mikhail Lermontov

If I wish for one thing these days, I wish that I can do this trip to my homeland , Adygea.. I miss my homeland, and I miss Mount Elbrus.. I miss my ancestors that I Never seen but always Live with me.. I miss the rivers and the land, the lakes and trees.. the cool wind on the mountain and how it makes me feel.. So Proud and High.. With every breath I take, I wish all Caucasus will be free again and forever.. God Bless freedom loving people, God bless the earth and sky of Caucasus..

And When I want to talk about Circassians and how they suffered how they survived and how Perfect they are, I speak words of people who lived with us and who been there and people who know the true Circassians.

Below is one question-Answer of an interview with Prince Ali Ibn Al-Hussein about his visit to Caucasus in 1998 with his Circassian friends.

Question: Your Royal Highness, today you are defending the cultural rights of the Circassian mountaineers. Could you tell us who the Circassians are and why are you interested in this issue?

Answer: According to legend, when God was creating the earth He carried all the mountains in a bag in order to distribute them across the land. The devil seeing his chance slit a hole in the bottom of the bag and all the mountains fell in one area between the Black Sea and the Caspian. So God made that land the one place in the world where the devil would not be able to penetrate and make its people evil, since life would be hard enough for them as it is.

The North Caucasuses is described by many visitors as Eden itself, with warm rich lowlands followed by majestic forests and alpine pastures, abandoned rivers and lakes, superimposed by eternally snow-capped peaks. These are the Frosty Caucasus of which Shakespeare sang, and which dwarf the Alps. Mount Elbrus, the tallest mountain in Europe, where legend has it, between its two peaks the Ark rested on its way to Ararat. Kazbek, where Prometheus was chained, known in ancient Greek legend as the Land Of The Golden Fleece, the land of fables and dreams, from which Tolstoy, Lermontov and Pushkin drew their inspiration.

The Circassians are an ancient race, composed of twelve tribes, who have been dwelling in the mountains of the North Caucasus and along the Black Sea coast since time immemorial. Many would-be invaders had found them a terrible foe, Roman Legions, Attila, Gengis Khan, Arabs, Temirlane and the Persians, who called the Caucasus `Sedi Iskender,’ or the barrier of Alexander. The mighty conqueror had set out to possess the world and met his first check here. Having never been conquered, the Circassians have managed to preserve their ancient culture without outside influences up until the time of the Russian invasion, that began in the late 18th century and which flamed into a terrible war, which lasted over a hundred years.

The Circassians, freedom-loving and bold, fought desperately and fiercely, earning themselves legendary status and respect throughout Europe and the Middle East. For one hundred years they held all the might of the Czar’s armies at bay, preventing them from colonial expansion and the long-cherished Russian dream of an over-land route to India. It was said that one Circassian is worth ten of anyone else, and their struggle is best described by the great Russian poet Mikhail Lermonotov, who wrote in the times of the Russo-Caucasus wars: “Circassian treasure rueful dreams, Circassian hearth is their supreme, but freedom, freedom for the man is more than peace and motherland.”

The war lasted until 1864 resulting in the death of over half of the entire Circassian population, and the two great powers of the time, Russia and Turkey, collaborated to cause the forced migration of over half the entire remaining population to the Ottoman Empire. Russia wanted the Circassian land for its emancipated peasants, and Turkey needed fresh blood for its armies in the Balkans. The Circassian expulsion was the largest mass exodus in modern times and another third of them perished along the way from disease and starvation.

It is estimated that if not for the war, Circassians today would number over 25 millions or more, instead of less than six millions spread out in countries all over the world.

Yet, wherever the Circassians went they contributed tremendously to the countries that they now live in. They were the first people to settle in revived modern Amman. When Prince, later King Abdullah, arrived in Trans-Jordan, they welcomed him, and during a rebellion in the early days of the Emirate they camped around his palace to protect him and were then given the honour of being the King’s personal guards. Nowadays, they can still be seen guarding the palaces and the Royal Court in their fabulous and romantic costumes. The Circassians have served in every government and military office, and are well-known for their honesty and loyalty. Today there are roughly one hundred thousand Circassians in Jordan, five million in Turkey, 700 hundred thousand in the Caucasus and smaller communities in Israel, Syria, and U.S. and Western Europe.

The Circassians practised civilised behaviour at a time when Europeans were still cave-dwellers. Their culture is extremely rich in poetry, myth, legend, song, dance and music. Their social structure is governed by the “Adygha Khabza,” or Circassian etiquette, a set of unwritten rules which emphasise perfect manners, hospitality, honesty, chivalry and respect for elders. They esteem their women and grant them full public freedom and they never practice polygamy or marry anyone even distantly related to them, as all Circassian relatives and neighbors are considered brothers and sisters. Indeed the Circassian’s greatest achievement has been the perfection of their own culture.

Nevertheless, due to the fact that they have been separated for nearly one hundred and thirty years, Circassians are finding it increasingly difficult to preserve their language, cultural heritage and are at risk of large scale assimilation, that threatens their very existence as a people.

My interest, therefore, comes from a want to reverse this process and give the Circassians the basic human rights, granted to all peoples of the world; to live together in peace and happiness, practising their own culture, speaking their own language and respected and known by the rest of the world we live in.

Loreena McKennitt — Night ride across the Caucasus

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