Azerbaijan historically is characterized by polyethnic features. The nations and tribes of various origins and various languages have settled down here and they have mixed with each other, eventually formed the Azerbaijan nation.
Unfortunately, the ethnic history of Azerbaijan, which has such a rich ethnical background, as well as the ethnic origins of Azerbaijanis and the role of the nations populated this area in its formation have become one of the problems aside of scientific researches. We are going to pay our attention to the history of the ethnos, living on Azerbaijan territory for many thousands years till nowadays, accepted by specialists as the Albanian tribe communities, which considered to be one of the most important parts of Azerbaijan history connected to the period when our country carried the name of Albania.
It’s worth to note that since 1960’s the Albanistics as a branch of Azerbaijan history sciences has started to form and gave birth to prominent scientists of the Albanian history in the republic. As a result, in the 1980’s Azerbaijan has become a scientific center of the Caucasian Albanistics. The numerous significant publications of Azerbaijan historians in this matter, as well as the creation of the scientific center of Albanistics in Baku in 2000 are the clear evidence of that. Though a little late, yet the scientific truth has triumphed. The research of the ethnic history of the Caucasian Albania is one of its actual problems, because Albania was a country characterized by its polyethnos. According to Strabon, there lived 26 tribes of different languages here. Basing on works of the ancient authors the Azerbaijan historians note that these tribes come from Albanians, Mikis, Caspis, Oudies, Kaduses, Lupins, Legs, Silves, Saccasens, Gargars; those authors even remember in which part of Albania some particular tribe were located (see: Z.I. Yampolskiy, “On the question of mononamity of the ancient population of Athropatena and Albania.” Labors of the Institute of History and Philosophy. Baku, 1954, IV, pp. 100-108; K.Aliyev. “To the question of tribes of the Caucasian Albania.” Researchers on history of culture of the Orient nations. M.,-L., 1960, pp.15-19). However, it’s worth to note that regretfully the names of Budugs, Kryses, Hapyts, Jeks and Khynalygs, which considered to be aboriginal ethnoses of Azerbaijan Republic that have settled down and live till nowadays in Azerbaijan, that is, in Albania, have not been mentioned in these researchs. According to the ethnographic and ethno-linguistic researchs that have been held lately it was finally proved that the above-mentioned ethnic groups are of the Albanian origins; and this is where we are going to make our observations.
First of all, we must note that because of absence of any materials or facts on the history of the mentioned-above ethnic groups in historical and ethnographical literature since the 18th century it is rather difficult to say something definite on ethno genesis of these ethnoses. At this point the main factor known to us is that each of these ethnoses possessed their own language. I. Gerber, P. Butkov, S. Bronevskiy, R. Erkert and others who were researching languages and customs of the ethnic groups of Azerbaijan since 18th century considered the Gryses, Hapyts and Khynalygs as the Lezgins due to their language. But V. Legkobytov who was in Azerbaijan in the 30’s of 19th century and researched thoroughly the languages of these ethnoses have come to conclusion that they used their own languages, and not the Lezgin (V.Legkobytov “The Guba region.” The review of Russian territories in Transcaucasus. SPB, 1836, p.IV, pp.122).
I.Berezin who had visited Dagestan and Azerbaijan in 1840 also admitted that the Khynalyg language was different to the Lezgin language. Coming to conclusion that this language was an independent one he wrote that Khynalygs used the language, which was known to them only, but not to Guba citizens, nor to the Lezgins (I.Berezin “The journey in Dagestan and Transcaucasus.” Kazan, 1850, p.I, pp.73).
Professor A.N. Genko who had taken a long ethno linguistic research on these ethnoses in 1926 also confirmed the fact that the Khynalygs and Hapyts used not the Lezgin, but their own language. He even went further than his colleagues coming to conclusion that the Khynalyg language was very close to the Oudi language, which considered to be the language of the ancient Alban tribes (A.N.Genko “Report on the results of the trip to Khynalyg.” The Bulletin of the Caucasian Institute on History and Archeology in the city of Tiflis, 1928, #1-3, pp.13). This means that the Khynalygs were originally one of the Ancient Alban tribes, like the Oudies.
In the beginning of the 20th century, M.H. Veliyev (Baharli) also mentioning the origins of this ethnic groups wrote that in the neighborhood of the plain Lezgins very likely lived other Lezgin nations within 26 Alban tribes. Their closeness to the Lezgins have not yet been proved by the science. That’s why the ethnographers applied them to the separate group named “Special Caucasian Nations” (M.H.Veliyev /Baharli/ “Azerbaijan”, Baku, 1993, pp.25). The author goes even further attributing the Kryzes, Budugs, Jeks and Khynalygs, which lived in the villages of Guba region, to the same group (same source).
As it is seen, M.H. Veliyev, too, gets to the conclusion that the Kryses, Jeks, Budugs and Khynalygs originally come from the 26 Alban tribes. Hence, the belonging of the Cryses, Hapyts, Jeks, Yerkugees, Budugs and Khynalygs, which form the Shakhdagh ethnic group in historical literature, to the Azerbaijan ethnoses of Albanian origins had already been accepted.
The Shahdagh ethnic groups, which enter the Lezgin language group of the Caucasian language family, are divided into several branches. That is, the Yerkugees, Eliks, Jeks, Hapyts due to their language specifics are very close to the Kryses. The Budugs (we are not going to talk about Budugs as we are going to dedicate them a separate report) and Khynalygs ethnoses are different from the same point of view. One of the issues interesting to the scientists is how these ethnic groups called themselves and were called by their neighbors. For instance, Khynalygs called themselves “Ketsh/Kachtish Xalk,” that is the citizens of Ketsh, or ‘Khattidour,” that is from the same village, and they called their language Ketsh/Kachtish Mish (N.G. Volkova. “The Khynalyg.” KAS, 7th issue, M., 1980, p.36; G.J. Javadov “The Living Antiquity of the Caucasus”, Trend Magazine, 1998, № 1-2, p.46). The Cryses, living in their neighborhood called the Khynalygs with the word “luhint”, the scientific and etymological meaning of which is unknown. The Hapyts called the Khynalygs as “Keyd” (G.J. Javadov “the unknown pages of our ethnic history”, Tekemul Magazine, 1999, № 3-4,pp.60-61).
The Cryses who called themselves “Ggerezes”, and their villages “Ggerez” called the Khynalygs with the words “Oumpa”, “Khoddoud”, “Khoddud”, the meaning of which is unknown (same source).
Above we have mentioned that the Hapyts belonged to the Gryses from the Shakhdag ethnic group. Although, the language of Hapyts is considered to be a branch, a dialect of language of Gryses, a lot of differences between these two languages have been defined by researchers. That’s why in the historical and ethnographical and linguistic literature the Hapyts were accepted as an independent ethnic group, and the language of Hapyts — as the independent one. In our opinion, this fact is proved by the way the Hapyts named themselves as well as their neighbors called them. For instance, while Hapyts called themselves as ‘Har/Her or Herety”, the Gryses called them “Horrud”, the Jeks – ‘Herrut”; here, the”Har/Her” components are similar to the words “Har/Her” or “Herety” the Hapyts named themselves. As a result, we witness the fact that the Hapyts and the Gryses call themselves “Her”. The Budugs, who were the neighbors of the Gryses used the words “Gered”, “Gerez”. This also meant “the place of Gerez” (G.J.Javadov. “The unknown pages of our ethnic history”, p.61). If we add to this that “Her”, “Herety” were the names they used to call in the ancient Georgian sources the ethnic groups or tribes settled in the Caucasian Albania, (J.A. Geybullayev. “On the origins of the Gryses”. Reports of the Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan SSR, 1985, #3, pp.83-84), then there would be no doubts left that the Gryses, Hapyts, Yerkuges, Jeks, Khynalygs and Budugs, which form the Shahdagh ethnic group, come originally from the ancient 26 tribes of Albania. This means that these ethnic minorities, coming from the Albans, used to be indigenous citizens of Azerbaijan and had thousand years old relations with Azerbaijanis. That’s why, as the 19th century scientists note, each of the mentioned ethnic groups not had only preserved their languages, ethnic features, customs and traditions, but also adopted to the Azerbaijan language, made it their communication mean, and due to being taught to the Azerbaijan language, this language, culture, literature, had become equally their general treasure, too.
We would like to say a few words about the settlement of these ethnic groups in Azerbaijan and their size in the period of 19th-20th cc. All of the ethnic groups we are talking about have settled down at the foothills of Shahdagh Mountain of the former Guba province. The Khynalygs lived only in the village of Khynalyg. According to the figures of 1859, there were 338 houses in the village, 2300 people, in 1873 – according to the population census, 363 houses and 2196 people (Reference book of the Caucasus. Tiflis, 1879, volume 6). In the end of 19th century it is known that there were 2430 people in Khynalyg (P. Kotljrevskiy. “Economical household of the state peasants of Northern part of Guba province. Materials. T.P., C.P., Tiflis, 1886, p.295). According to the population census of 1897 neither Khynalygs, nor any other ethnic groups of Shahdagh were registered separately. They were repeatedly registered in the same way during the Soviet Power; the ethnic minorities were not mentioned again. This factor makes difficult to give precise figures on sizes of these ethnoses. However, it is true that the Shahdagh ethnic groups despite of being moved from their original settlements and villages, made their homes in other areas and keep living till nowadays. Sometimes they registered themselves in population census as Azerbaijanis. As a matter of fact these ethnics are known even today under their original names.
In the 40-s of 19th century the major part of the population of the villages of Upper Gryz, Hapyt, Yerkuge, Jek, Budug have moved to the Mushkur and Shabran areas of Guba province and laid foundation for their new residence. One part of Hapyts moved at that time to Shamaha-Goychay areas and have established here the villages of Hapytly Melikli, Hapytly Kurd, Hapytly Hajahatemli, Hapytly Molla Isagly, Hapytly Imamly, Hapytly Nepes Gajar (Javadov, Article of Gust, p.66). N Zeidlis wrote that both Hapyts which moved from Guba province and the ones which lived in Shemakha spoke same language (Lists of settlements of the Russian Empire. Baku province, volume 65, p.97). In general, despite of absence of full statistic information on the quantity of Hapyts, it is known that in the 60’-70’s of 19th century in the villages of Shykh hapyt in Mushkur, Dirshali Hapyt, Garadagh Hapyt, Ibrahim Hapyt there lived 1433 Hapyts (same source), in 6 Hapyt villages of Huychay-Shemakha province – 710 ( N.A.Abelov. Economical household of the state peasants of Geokchay and Shemakha provinces of Baku Government. – materials, volume 6, part 2, pp.15-16), in the villages of Boyuk Hapytly and Kichik Hapytly of Nukha province – 124 Hapyts (A.Araskhanyants, volume 6, part 1, p.19). It is said in the sourse says that in Nukha province the Hapys considered to be nomads, and they speak on the Language similar to the Lezgin, though they use plenty of Tatar (Azerbaijan–G.J.) words (same source).
One more detail is noteworthy: despite of one hundred and fifty years which had passed since either Gryzes, or Hapyts had to leave their initial settlements, and despite of a large distance from each other’s new settlements both Hapyts and Gryzes managed to keep their customs and traditions, specific for their ancestors. They have also managed to keep their characteristic social relations.
Due to the special monography (G.Javadov, R.Huseynov. “The Oudis” Historical and ethnographical study. Baku, 1966. 1999) dedicated to the Oudis which are considered to be one of the autochthon and Albanian ethnoses of Azerbaijan, we do not see the point to discuss this matter here.
The information we’ve brought on the Shahdagh ethnic groups and their settlements in Azerbaijan prove that the roots of these ethnoses were same and of Alban origins. It’s only regretful that they have not been mentioned in population census. Our opponents abusing this fact spread the word that the assimilation of Gryzes, Budugs, Hapyts and Khynalygs goes on in Azerbaijan and that these ethnoses have become extinct today. As we have mentioned above, Azerbaijan had succeeded in preserving ethnic landscape and these ethnoses, starting with the one consisting of citizens of some lone village and ending with the multi-thousand Oudies, Gryzes, Hapyts, Jeks, Budugs and Khynalygs who have equal citizenship rights in the country. The Azerbaijan scientists have lately been paying more attention to these ethnoses, as well as made several projects aimed to protect the ethnoses. One of the projects assumes to make the ‘open-air’ museums out of the villages Khynalyg, Budug, Hapyt, Jek, Gryz in the Guba region, Molla Isagly and haji Hatemli in the Ismayilly region and others related to the names of the ethnoses (see: G.J.Javadov. “The Shahdagh ethnic groups in the brotherly family of Azerbaijan nations.” The materials of scientific and practical conference “Azerbaijan on the threshold of the 21st century.” Baku, 1998, p. 531-533). Moreover, it is recommended to establish state preserves in the most characteristic settlements, to hold certain actions in order protect these ethnoses, who have lived on the territory of Azerbaijan for ages.
Finally, it would be very helpful to publish popular and scientific books, to shoot documentary and ethnographic movies and broadcast them to the nations of the world in order to promote these ethnoses to the world community. This would be an important step toward improving image Azerbaijan’s, Azerbaijanis’ and its minor ethnoses into the world.
Gamarshah Javadov doctor of historical sciences, professor Foreign RelationsInstitute of the Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan