World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Kist people

Article Id: WHEBN0005908459
Reproduction Date:

Title: Kist people  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Chechens, Ingush people, Abkhazians, Peoples of the Caucasus, Ossetians
Collection: Ethnic Groups in Georgia (Country), Nakh Peoples, Peoples of the Caucasus, Sub-Ethnic Groups
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Kist people

Total population
8,110 (2002 census)
Regions with significant populations
Georgian Orthodox
Related ethnic groups
Chechens, Ingushs, and Bats

The Kists (Kakheti, where there are approximately 9,000 Kist people.


  • Origins 1
  • Geographic distribution 2
  • History 3
  • Religion 4
  • Traditions 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


The Kist people's origins can be traced back to their ancestral land in lower Georgian, they are closely related culturally, linguistically and ethnically to other Nakh-speaking peoples such as Ingushs and Chechens, but their customs and traditions share many similarities also with the eastern Georgian mountaineers.

Around the same region of Georgia, there is also a related but still different community of Northeast Caucasian origin called Bats.

Geographic distribution

Currently there are six Kist villages in Pankisi: Duisi, Dzibakhevi, Jokolo, Shua Khalatsani, Omalo (different from the village of Chechnya.

In 1989, it was calculated that Pankisi was about 43% Kist, 29% Georgian and 28% Ossetian, but many of the Ossetians later fled as a result of the more hostile situation due to the Georgian-Ossetian conflict. [1]

Relationships between the local Northern Ossetia. Because they often cannot sell their properties, they leave behind cultivated lands and houses built over many generations. Kists and Chechen refugees have settled in these abandoned houses. In this manner, the Ossetian villages of Dumasturi, Kvemo Khalatsani, and Tsinubani were vacated from 1998 to 2002.


The early history of the Kist people is not well known and there are few sources mentioning their traditions, culture and history. The only historical sources available about the ethnic Kists in the area of Pankisi are found in the Georgian press, dated in the 1880s by E.Gugushvili, Zakaria Gulisashvili, Ivane Bukurauli, and Mate Albutashvili (ethnic Kist).

One of the greatest Georgian poets Vazha-Pshavela dedicated his epic Aluda Ketelauri and The Host and the Guest to the story of Kist-Khevsur conflict which occurred in the 18th and 19th centuries. Based on religious and cultural difference, both Caucasian nations were engaged in fierce fighting. Vazha-Pshavela celebrates heroism of both nations and underlines the senselessness of their conflict.

During the Pankisi crisis in the early 2000s.


The majority of Kists are [2]

The position of Islam strengthened among the Kists in the Soviet period, in part because “wandering” mullahs continued to proselytize and managed to persuade many to convert to Islam, a process that continued into the 1970s. In sum, over the years considerable numbers of Kists became Christian, but most of those who did later reconverted to Islam. Even so, until around 1970, a considerable part of the villagers of Jokolo, Omalo, and Birkiani were Christian, and a Christian chapel was built in Omalo in the 1960s. In the 1970s, however, many Christians in Jokolo and Omalo returned to the Islamic faith. As noted earlier, only Birkiani has a majority Christian population today. There is also a small community of Kists in Kakheti (a region of Georgia bordering on the Gorge), mainly in the city of Telavi, who consider themselves Georgians and Orthodox Christians. As with most Georgians, Christian and Muslim alike, religion has as much a national meaning for many Kists as it does spiritual. Those who are Christian tend to identify themselves as Georgians. [3]


The Kist folk ensemble Pankisi at the Art-Gene festival in Tbilisi, 2008.

The Kists remained faithful to their family traditions and customs, refusing to assimilate with other north Caucasian nationalities such as the Chechens and Ingush. To this day, they identify themselves as Kists, and for official purposes declare themselves of Georgian nationality. They are typically bilingual in Georgian.

The Kists represent the majority of the population in all Kist villages of the Pankisi Gorge, with the exception of a few Georgian families who came to this area later. In the Northern Caucasus, the Chechens and to a certain extent the Ingush officially registered father's names as family names. The Kists did not follow this practice. Instead, after migrating to Georgia, the Kists started adding the Georgian endings to their patrimonial names, particularly suffix -shvili (meaning "child" in Georgian), or sometimes suffix -dze (which means "son" in Georgian), or still other times the Georgian suffix -uli (indicating "belonging to" or "descended from"). In this manner, Kist family names were established.

A family's guest was treated with great respect. Men, usually the eldest man of the family, would greet the guest. The guest would then be seated in the most honorable place. The guest was not simply the guest of one particular family, but of the whole village and, in some cases, the whole canyon. Even today, this tradition is strictly maintained.

See also


  1. ^ George Sanikidze. "Islamic Resurgence in the Modern Caucasian Region: "Global" and "Local" Islam in the Pankisi Gorge" (PDF). p. 264. Retrieved 2013-11-24. 
  2. ^ Sanikidze. Islamic Resurgence in the Modern Caucasian Region: "Global" and "Local" Islam in the Pankisi Gorge. Page 266-270.
  3. ^ George Sanikidze. "Islamic Resurgence in the Modern Caucasian Region: "Global" and "Local" Islam in the Pankisi Gorge" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-11-24. 


  • Shorena Kurtsikidze & Vakhtang Chikovani, Ethnography and Folklore of the Georgia-Chechnya Border: Images, Customs, Myths & Folk Tales of the Peripheries, Munich: Lincom Europa, 2008.

External links

  • Georgia's Pankisi Gorge: An Ethnographic Survey
  • Ethnic Groups in Georgia #5 - Kists. The Georgian Times. April 11, 2008.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.