The following article by Prof. Roland Topchishvili was copied from the website of the National Parliamentary Library of Georgia. Besides this article—"The Tsova-Tushs (the Batsbs)"—Prof. Topchishvili has also written articles on the Svan and Udi peoples; all three are available online in PDF format here.
Although I certainly do not agree with all of Prof. Topchishvili's views and conclusions, his article on the Tush and the Batsbi contains much information of great interest and is a great "all-rounder", and I have reproduced his article here in full.
To the eastern side of the Black Sea, in the central and western parts of the southern Caucasus there is a country of Georgia (Sakartvelo), which was created by the Georgian people (under the leadership of the king Parnavaz) before the birth of Christ on the verge of the IV-III centuries. The country was sometimes unified, sometimes broke up into the separate feudal entities, it even lost the territories but has still maintained the statehood and sovereignty up to date.
Georgia, like a certain number of European countries, consists of historical- geographical parts. These parts are inhabited by the relevant ethnographical groups, who also speak the dialects of the Georgian language. However, historically, one thing was characteristic for Georgia: to certain extent, this ethnographical group spoke not the dialect of the Georgian language but its own language. These languages were spoken only in the families. So, from the socio-linguistic point of view they were equal to the dialects of the Georgian language (It is true even now!). These groups are: the Megrels (on the Black Sea Coast), the Svans (on the southern slopes of the Caucasian mountains, in the north-west part of the country). Both the Megrels and Svans speak the languages closer to Georgian language.
Historically, the same can be said about the Dvals who live in the mountains of central Caucasus. The Dvals used their own family-spoken language, too. They speak one of the Georgian languages which were between the Svan and Zan languages but had more proximity to Zan. The part of the Dvals scattered in the mountains and lowland, part of them were assimilated with the Ossethians in the XV-XVI centuries. As for the fourth, most interesting group for us – the Tsova-Tushs or as they are known in the science, the Batsbs, they speak one of the Vainakh languages. They lived in Tusheti - the historical-ethnographical part of the mountainous Georgia. Today they live in Kakheti - the lowland of eastern Georgia. The Tsova-Tushs (the Batsbs) are the inseparable and linguistic part of the Georgian people.
Thus, the Georgian ethnos that was formed centuries ago, besides the Georgian language speaking historical-ethnographical groups, also united the groups which spoke other languages. As mentioned above, from the socio-linguistic point of view in the general ethnological literature their languages are equal to the various dialects of the Georgian language (Arutynov, 1989, p. 45; Jorbenadze, 1995, p. 20; Oniani, 1997; Putkaradze, Kikvidze, 1997; Kurdiani, 1997). Throughout the whole history of Georgia the Georgian language was the state, literary and church language for the Megrels, Svans, Dvals as well as for Tsova-Tushs. They were not passive in the Georgian ethnical structure and contributed respectively to the development of the Georgian language and culture. The fact that all the documents of the XIII-XIV centuries in Svaneti were created by the local inhabitants will serve us as an example. The linguists have several arguments to confirm it.
A Russian ethnographer S. A. Arutynov wrote the following about the Svans and Tsova-Tushs (the Batsbs): “in the mountainous Georgia the Batsbs and Svans, according to all ethnographical measures, should be considered as special people by their peculiar manners, absolutely solitary languages, and it is required to recognize them as the Georgians” (Arutynov. 2002. p. 437). The author is right when he writes that both the Svans and Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) consider themselves as the Georgians. Regarding the fact that as if they required to be recognized as the Georgians, is not true. Whether the Svans and Tsova-Tushs were the Georgians or not has never been at issue. It was only in the interests of Russia to declare them as the different ethnos. In the XIX century both the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) and Svans certainly required to be considered as the Georgians. S Arutynov even mentioned that by the ethnographical sign, the Batsbs as well as the Svans, should be considered as special people. We would add that the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) and Svans cannot be thought as special people from this particular ethnographical point of view. Ethnographically, they are not different from other Georgian ethnographical groups. If there is something that makes them different, it is caused by the natural-geographic circumstances. We will speak about the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) below and we will be able to see that from the ethnographical point of view (economical activities, material culture, social relations, spiritual culture), they almost were not distinguished from the same Georgian-speaking Tushs and the other ethnographical groups of Georgian eastern mountains.
At present the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) live in the historical-geographical part of the eastern Georgia, more precisely in one of its biggest village Zemo Alvani (Akhmeta Region). Historically their living place was Tusheti - one part in the same mountainous Kakheti. The whole Tusheti is located to the north of the main water-separating ridge of Caucasus (the same can be said about the other historical-ethnographic part which is called Khevi. Partly, to the north, on the other side of the main water separating ridge there is also Khevsureti, which is called “Pirikiti Khevsureti”). From the ethnographical point of view, Tusheti was distinguished with its originality and it was the language that made it different (now Tusheti is almost without inhabitants).
According to the written data and ethnographic documents, Tusheti included four communities or territorial entities (before that – 8 communities). They are: Tsova, Gometsari, Chaghma, Pirikiti. The Tushs who lived in the communities of Gometsari, Chaghma and Pirikiti (territorial entities) spoke and still speak the Tushuri dialect of the Georgian language. As for the Tushs living in Tsova community, they are bilingual. Their domestic-family language was Tsova (Tsova-Tush) or, as it is acceptable in the linguistic literature, the Batsb language. Outside they speak the language somewhat similar to the Kakhuri dialect of the Georgian language. These two groups of the Tushs are not different from each other in any ways. Ethnographically they are the same. it is natural that the Tsova-Tushs (the Batsbs) thought themselves to be ethnical Georgians.
If we compare not very old statistical data of 1886 with each other, we can see that there were 49 villages in whole Tusheti. The Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) were registered only in four villages: Indurta, Saghirta, Tsaro and Eteltha. As for the georgian speaking Tushs (unlike the Tsova-Tushs, they were sometimes called the Chaghma-Tushs), they lived in 45 villages. The latter comprised 830 households and counted 4174 heads. Regarding the people who spoke the Batsb or Tsova-Tush language, their number was 1533. This number was distributed to 337 families. Average family of the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) included 4.54 heads. By 1886, the Georgian Tush dialect speaking people were about 2.7 times more than the Tushs who spoke the Tsova-Tush or Batsb language. According to data of 1873, the number of the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) was slightly more (1571 heads). By 1831, 278 households of the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) were registered and they comprised 1531 heads. Thus, in the XIX century for about 55 years the number of the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) did not change practically; it varied within the limits of 1500. At present the number of the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) is approximately 2000 (Shavkhelishvili, 2001, p. 10).
Besides the above mentioned four villages of the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs), four more villages are mentioned in the scientific materials - Nazarta, Nadirta, Mozarta and Shavtsqala, which stopped the existence quite early. The inhabitants were halved by the black plague. According to ethnographic data, the reason of migration of the Tsova-Tushs to the lowland besides the struggling against the disaster was the black plague, too.
Among the population of Tusheti, the Tsovs were the first who moved to the lowland of Kakheti. In the scientific works several dates are mentioned about their migration but the 1830s is closer to reality. According to the population census of 1831, the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) were still registered in the mentioned four villages of Tsovati (Sagirta, Indurta, Eteltha, Tsaro). Only two families of the Nakvetauris are ascribed to the Kakheti lowland village of Bakhtrioni (Bakhtrioni is situated near Zemo Alvani - the present living place of the Tsova-Tushs). The Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) did not leave the mountains and moved to their current settlement in Zemo (Upper) Alvani immediately. Before we touch the nature of their migration, we should mention that the reason of leaving the place of their ancestors is the natural disaster. In 1830 the village Sagirta was destroyed by the flood and landslide. It destroyed the big part of the population only in the village Sagirta, the population of other villages were destroyed by the black plague in the same period. According to ethnographic materials, the reason of migration to the lowland was the black plague together with the landslide.
We saw above that in 1831 the Tsova-Tushs were still registered as the inhabitants of Tsovati villages. The same fact is stated not only in 1831 but according to archive data of 1841, 1873 and 1886. Moreover, according to “Caucasus Calender” in 1910, the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) are not officially registered in the lowland, the village of Zemo Alvani (there is no Alvani in the list of villages at all). They are still ascribed to four villages of Tsovati (Tsaro, Eteltha, Indurta, Sagirta). According to data of 1907-1908, their number was 1904 people. By ethnographical data, after the 30s of the XIX century the Tsova-Tushs used to go to the mountain only during the summer time (the census was provided by that period, too). They stayed temporarily at the place of Tbatana, which is situated at the head of the River Alazani Gorge. Gradually Tbatana became the place where the Tsova-Tushs could stay only in summer. For wintertime they started to build the temporal winter shelters near the winter pastures owned by the Tushs – areas of the present villages of Zemo (Upper) Alvani and Kvemo (Lower) Alvani on the foot of the mountain. Before settling in Zemo Alvani in winter the Tushs lived in some villages of Kakheti lowland: Bakhtrioni, Khorkheli, Kistauri and Pankisi Gorge.
So, as we can see, the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) led so called half nomadic life, which was caused by development the high level of shepherding even in the middle centuries. Surplus sheep needed the winter pastures (in the lowland) as well as the summer pastures (in the mountains). The Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) did not migrate with their families. Only men were engaged in shepherding. That is why the mentioned form of shepherding is called half nomadic in the scientific works. Thus, together with the natural disaster the reason of migration of the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) was the farming – half nomadic shepherding. There are also some other reasons of migration mentioned in the scientific materials. One of them is attacks by the neighbouring non-Georgian ethnical units – the Kists (Chachans) (Bochoridze, 1933, p. 14).
The Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) started building of houses near the Alvani Valley on the verge of XIX-XX centuries and half of them spent the winter there by then. As for the Tushs speaking the Tush dialect of the Georgian language, they settled on the Alvani Valley comparatively late in 20-30s of the XX century. Unlike the Tsova-Tushs, they did not stop living in Tusheti from the beginning: they led ploughing both in the mountains and the lowland although sheep breeding had been an advantageous branch for them long time before. They never refused land farming. It is remarkable that the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) who migrated from the village Zemi Alvani settled according to their family names. They did not stop following the principle of living characteristic for the mountains and did the same in the lowland.
Tusheti and the Tushs are mentioned in the very first Georgian historical sources. While telling the stories about the spread of Christianity in Georgia at the beginning of the IV century, the chronicler Leonti Mroveli mentions that one whole part of the Georgian mountaineers – the Pkhovs (who were bordering the Tushs from the east) did not accept Christianity. The king’s official (eristavi) used the gun. Pagan Tushs moved to Tusheti (The Life of Kartli, 1955, p. 125). Similar toponymies in Tusheti and Khevsureti must be the response to this migration (Pkhovi used to be the old name of the present historical-ethnographical parts of Khevsureti and Pshavi): Khakhabo, Gudani and Gudanta, Biso and Baso and so on. Also the praying places of pre-Christian period with the similar names: “Lashari’s Jvari” (Lashari Cross), “Karate’s Jvari” (Karate’s Cross), “Kopale” ... As the scientists suppose, the yearly pilgrimage from Khevsureti (historical Pkhovi) to the praying places of Tusheti to celebrate the religious holidays until the 50s of the XX century can prove the migration: “a large number of icons of Khevsuri origin must be the result of massive and simultaneous migration of the Khevsurs to Tusheti” (Ochiauri, 1967, p. 63). In case of migration, other facts of attitude to the ancestors’ praying places are stated. The descendents of mountainous migrants kept going to their ancestors’ praying places for a long time.
The Tushs are mentioned second times by a historian Juansher in the VIII century during the reign of Archil (The Life of Kartli, 1955, p. 243). Claudius Ptolemy (A.D. II century) had mentioned about the Tushs even earlier. He writes: “between the mountains of Caucasus and Kervani live the Tusks and Didurs”. It is obvious that the Tushs are meant by the Tusks, the Didurs are the Didos (one of the Daghestanian tribes which bordered the Tushs from the north-east).
Tusheti and the Tushs are characterized in details by a historian and geographer of the first half of the XVIII century Vakhushti Bagrationi. He describes precisely the places of their settlement. He mentions the neighbouring non- Georgian ethnical units: the Chachens and Dedos (the Daghestanians), characterizes their economical activities, religion, language. Vakhushti underlines that the Tushs “are the Georgians by their religion and language” (Bagrationi 1973, p 544). First he names the Tsovs (Tsovata) and at the same time emphasizes that they could speak the language of the Tushes better who lived on the side of the Kists and Ghlighvs (i.e. the Chachens and Ingushs). But he wrote that the language of the Tushs of Parsma community (i.e. Pirikiti) was mixed (p.555). So that in the historical sources the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) are separated first by the author of the first half of the XVIII century and it means that he speaks about their language peculiarities or bilingualism.
In the Georgian historical documents the Tsova-Tush is first mentioned in one of the law monument of 1754. It says that the governor (state official) of Tusheti Zurabi went to Gare (Outer) Kakheti to clarify the case of arresting of the Tsova-Tush Anta Auashvili by a local Elizbar (Monuments of The Georgian Law, 1972, p. 425). Besides Anta Auashvili and his brother Chuma, other Tsova-Tushs (Uti Shvelashvili, Sandaur Mushtrqalishvili, Uji Berukashvili, Saghir Ujishvili) are also mentioned in the same document as well as two other Georgian Tush dialect speaking tushs (Gota Gotadze from the village Dochvi and David Khelidze from the village Shenako).
The Tushs are mentioned more than once in the historical documents of the middle ages. As is known, the kingdom of unified Georgia broke up in the XV century and the Tushs belonged to one of such kingdoms – Kakheti. That period replaced the ruling system of the king Giorgi I (1472-1492) and instead of Eristavis appointed Governors (state officials in the parts and settlements). A historian Vakhushti Bagrationi speaks about the assignment of the governor in Tusheti. It was mainly the priority of the princes Choloqashvilis to be a governor in Tusheti (also in Pshavi and Khevsureti).
The Tushs are mentioned in the document issued by the king of Kakheti Levan II) 1520-1574 as well as in the document of 1757. We will come back to the content of these documents below accordingly. Now we are only going to mention that the foreign authors paid the attention to the Tushs, too. For example, in 1771 a German scientist and full member of the Russian Academy of Science Johannes Gueldenstaedtius (1745-1781) traveled in Georgia. The traveler touched Tusheti, too. He described the passage from Kakheti to Tusheti (mentioning that it is a day and a half walk to Tusheti from the main ridge). He mentioned the villages of Tusheti among them, first of all, the villages of the Tsova-Tushs (the Batsbs): Tsova (probably Tsaro – R.T.), Sagirta, Eteltha and Indurta. He mentioned that the Tushs could provide with 500 hundred armed men; they gave guards to the King to watch the palace. As for the linguistic observation of the German scientist, we are offering it in full: “In the first four villages (he speaks about the villages of the Tsova-Tushs: Tsaro, Sagirta, Eteltha and Indurta – R. T.) they speak the Georgian mixed Kist. It is possible that the inhabitants are the successors of the Kists than elsewhere”. “The Tushs are certainly the Georgians mixed with the Kists and the king Erekle sees them as his obedient. It is proved by their language which is the Georgian dialect mixed with the Kist words”. (Gueldenstaedtius, 1962, p. 263). By the way, as it is quite obvious, information is obtained by the German scientist from the Tsova-Tushs (the Batsbs). It is approved by the names of the villages: “Diklo-Arre”, “Dochu- Arre”. The Tsova-Tushs called the Diklos, the Shenakos like this, which means the inhabitants of Diklo and Shenako (the Diklos, the Shenakos).
The Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) called themselves “the Tushs”, “the Tsovas” or “the Tsova-Tushs”. As we have seen, the Georgian sources did not distinguish two groups of the Tushs from each other. As far as the representatives of neighbouring non-Georgian ethnic units – the Daghestanians and Chachans are concerned, the former called them “Mosokh” and the latter – “Batsai”. The name of “Mosokh” given to the Tushs by the Daghestanians is mentioned by Klaprot. Some scientists link this name with one of the divisions of the Georgians - “Meskhs” who lived in the south-east of Georgia. “The Meskhs” are also one of the historical-ethnographical groups of Georgia at present.
It is thought that the migration of “the Moskhs”, “the Meskhs” to the mountainous Georgia occurred in the middle of the 1st millennium of the old era. This opinion is also supported by the fact that there is a toponymy “Samtskhe” (“Samtskhe” is the name of the historical-ethnographical part of the south-west Georgia inhabited by the Meskhs) and the praying place “Javakhe” by name (the Javakhs are one of the ethnographical groups of the Georgians in the south-west Georgia living next to the Meskhs). We would only add that if the Leks (Daghestanians) wanted to call the Tushs “Mosokhi” it was not necessary at all for the Meskhs to migrate from the south to the ultimate north- east part of Georgia. In the opinion of a Russian scientist P. Uslar, the usage of the name “Mosokh” regarding the Tushs must have been the remnant of the remote past when Mosokhi was the general name of the Georgians (Javakhishvili, 1950, p.51).
We have mentioned above about the migration of the Pkhovs to Tusheti in the IV century of the new era. Generally, it must not have been the only case of the migration to Tusheti. The narratives prove the individual migration of the population from other historical-ethnographical parts of the Georgian highland and lowland as well as the facts of moving neighbouring non-Georgian ethnical units (the Kists and Didos). Several family names definitely consider Chacneti and Daghestan as their original living places.
The main thing is that the Daghestanians call the mentioned name to all Tushs despite the difference in languages. It concerned both the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) and the Georgian-speaking Tushs. The same can be said regarding the name “Batsai”. In view of linguistics, the Vainakhs did not distinguish the Tushs and call “Batsai” to everyone. Therefore, a majority of scientists think that the name of “the Batsbs” is not proper to use regarding the Tsova-Tushs. A Chachan scientist I. Dusheriev circulated this first in the science by calling the Tsova or Tsova-Tush language “the Batsb language” (M., 1952). I. Dusheriev connects “Batsai” with the Chachan word “Buts” which means the grass. However, as is known, there are no examples that can prove the names of the people or groups of people originated from the grass or the plant generally. We think that the opinion of a linguist Bela Shavkhelishvili is more reasonable. She thinks that the name “Batsa” can be linked with “Bats” the root of which is given in the toponymy “Batsara” which is near Tusheti at the head of the Alazni Gorge. It seems interesting that “Batsari” means the thin rope in Georgian. A historian Abram Shavkhelishvili (who is Tsova-Tush himself) considers that although the Tsova-Tushs often call themselves “the Batsbs” today, but this term found its way among the people through books and “Batsb” itself is an artifically created term (Shavkhelishvili, 2001, p. 16).
We should finish talking about the name of the Tsova-Tushs which is established in nowadays’ science by mentioning the fact that the family name of the same root (“Batsioni”) used to be in the region of Kevsureti neighbouring Tusheti. They used to live in the Likoki Gorge of Khevsureti and were resettled from there by Zurab, Eristavi of Aragvi in the XVII century. It is also remarkable that one of the villages in Khevsureti is bearing the name of “Batsaligo”. One more linguistic fact: in the language of Darguels “Badz” (“Bats”) means the moon.
There have been different opinions about the Tsova-Tushs (the Batsbs) in the scientific materials for a long time. Who are they? Are they local inhabitants or migrated ones? Why is it so that one ethnographic group of one people is divided in different parts from the language point of view? Why are the Tsova- Tushs (the Batsbs) bilingual? and so on. Some researchers in the first place underline the circumstance that The Tsova-Tushs who live in the mountains of Georgia (Tusheti) are mentioned only in later periods, from the beginning of the XVIII century in the historical sources and documents. This argument does not mean at all that they started living in Tusheti from the later and particular period. If they are migrated from the Northern Caucasus (as some think from Ingushetia), then from which period? At the same time, a question arises: When did they become bilingual? It is the fact that before moving to the lowland of Georgia, even when they lived in the mountains (Tusheti), the Tsova-Tushs had been bilinguals. This is confirmed by the documents of Vakhushti Bagrationi and German Gueldenstaedtius. The Tsova-Tushs were surrounded by the Georgian-speaking Tushs in Tusheti. The main 2/3 part of the population in Tusheti, as mentioned above, spoke the Tush dialect of the Georgian language. The life of the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) was impossible without the relationship with them. It is proved by the fact that the ethnographical being, traditions and manners of the Tsova-Tushs are similar to other Tushs. Historically both groups had intensive contacts and farming links with the lowland. Thus the bilingualism of the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) has been a fact for several centuries.
The relationship of the Tsova-Tushs with the Georgian-speaking Tushs and then with the people of the lowland seems to have long tradition because the intrusion of 2/3 of the Georgian vocabulary into their language would have required several textbooks. The scientist Abram Shavkhelishvili writes: “The Georgian language has always been a native language for the Tsova-Tushs. It is proved one more time by the great spiritual literature which is preserved in the museum of Zemo Alvani. The people spoke similarly both the Georgian and Tsova-Tush languages” (Shavkhelishvili, p.155).
The ethnographer in the 30s of the XX century S. Makalatia mentioned that “the Tsova-Tushs spoke the Tsova language. Their language is originated from Ghligh (i.e. Ingush – R.T.) and related to Kist. But there are a lot of borrowings from Georgian in this language and it is spoken in the family and outside of it among them. Everybody knows the Tsova language in the family. It is shameful not to speak it. Children start speaking with this language and learn Georgian afterwards” (Makalatia, 1983, p. 109). Moreover, part of the male Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) could also speak the Azerian Turkish language. The practical needs of the knowledge of the mentioned language in the XIX-XX centuries, which was caused by the farming-economical links, forced both the Tsova-Tushs (the Batsbs) and the Georgian-speaking Tushs to make the decision about sending their sons to the families of their Azerian Qonaghs (sworn brothers) for a year. Some Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) knew the Russian language, too. German Gustav Radde wrote: “12 Tush boys were introduced to me (from the Tsova community) spending their holidays with their parents. They spoke Russian glibly” (Radde, 1881, p. 315).
The scientists think that together with the development of bilingualism the intrusion of the Georgian language also took place in the Batsb (Tsova-Tush) language. A large number of Georgian words from the fields of farming and economy entered their language: names of metal, clothes and habitation, fields and truck crops, fruit, measures of length, the technical terms of weight, time, social and political terminology. At the same time, the changes in the Batsb (Tsova-Tush) language was not limited only by the vocabulary. The grammatical and phonetic characteristics of the Georgian language were also originated. However, despite the mentioned above, the Tsova-Tush (Batsb) language managed to maintain the features characteristic to the languages of the Nakhuri group (Desheryev, 1952, pp. 9-13; Chrelashvili, 2002, pp. 312-322). The names of some certain objects and events co-exist in Georgian and Nakhur forms.
The Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) have Georgian proper names. If we look through the documents of the population census in 1831, 1841, 1973 and 1886, we will see that mainly the Georgian names, more precisely Christian Orthodox canonized names and pre-Christianity names were popular among them – exactly the same names as among the Georgian-speaking Tushs and other ethnographical groups of the eastern Georgian mountains. In the census of 1873 only the male names are fixed.
In the village of the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) Indurta we meet the following names which are canonized by the Orthodox Church: Abram, Andria, Aleksi, Aleksandre, Basil, Besarion, Gabriel, grigol, Giorgi, Davit, Dimitri, Egnate, Yakob, Isaac, Yob, Yase, Yoseb, Yordane, Ivane, Ilarion, Konstantine, Lazare, Mate, Mikheil, Maksime, Nikoloz, Parten, Pavle, Solomon, Svimon, Stepane, Timothe, Tevdore. Evidently, the Orthodox Church controlled the process of giving names among the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) because in the census of 1831 and 1841 we really meet the Christian names but not with a hundred percent as in the census of 1873. It is confirmed by the fathers’ names given in the census of 1873. For example: Babo, Epkho, Echi, Torghva, Imeda, Irema, Ina, Kakho, Lela, sultan, Saghir, Uji, Uti, Sharmazan, Tsiskara, Khirchla, Jamar, Jikho some of which are old Georgian names of pagan era (Jikho, Mgela, Tsiskara, Epkho, Irema, ... Imeda). Some of them are non-Georgian names of northern Caucasus origin (Uji, Uti, Echi, Khirchla).
The same can be said about the female names which are fixed in the census of 1831. Among the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) the most popular canonized Christian names were the following: Tamar, Maia, Martha, Mariam, Elisabed, Anna, Nino, Barbare. Remarkable pre-Christianity names are: Mertskhala, Tuta, Dai, Tredi, Sabedi, Kmara, Kala, Mzekala and others. Not only among the Tushs but also in other parts of mountainous Georgia (Khevsureti, Pshavi, Khevi) the names spread from the ethnical units of the northern Caucasus were not rare. It was resulted from the ethno-cultural links which was maintained between the mountaineers of Georgia and northern Caucasus for centuries. Regarding the proper names mentioned event was characteristic for the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) in the XVIII century as well. Gueldenstaedtius paid attention to this fact, too in the XVIII century: “personal names are more mixed, mostly male names are Georgian” (Gueldenstaedtius, 1962, p. 269) (Die Namen sind mehr vermisicht, doch mehr georgishe Nansamen).
The same can be said about the names of the Tsova-Tushs. They have exactly the same model of names as in other parts of mountainous Georgia. There are only 86 names of the Tsova-Tushs. Absolute majority of them were originated from the male names of their ancestors and are formed by means of –shvili, - dze and –ur (-ul) suffixes.
We will come back to the names of the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) later. We would only mention here that according to the available historical and ethnographical documents, they realized themselves as the Georgians. However, in the documents of the population census of the XIX century in the column of народность (nationality, people - in Russian) the Russians put the name of the ethnographical group for the Tsova-Tushs (as well as the Georgian-speaking Tushs) as the representatives of other Georgian ethnographical group. it was the result of the Russian imperial policy. In the census of 1926 all the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) registered themselves as Georgians. It is true at present, too. They feel offended if someone, by chance, is doubtful whether they are Georgians or not due to their bilingualism.
Now we should go back to the issue of migration of the Tsova-Tushs (the Batsbs) to the mountains of the eastern Georgia. Due to the fact that we do not have available written sources about this problem, the narratives and linguistic data can serve us as the only source. It should be mentioned from the very beginning that while touching the issue of the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs), the scientists are divided into two groups: one of them prove that their ancestors came from the northern Caucasus, Ingushetia to the mountains of the eastern Georgia. The others similarly prove that the ancestors of the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) lived there from the very beginning and they did not migrate from anywhere else.
There is the third opinion which expands the second opinion. The author of this opinion concludes that the Tsova-Tushs (the Batsbs) have lived in Tusheti for long and they are definitely those Tushs who are mentioned in the in old sources and the Georgian-speaking people moved comparatively later from the lowland. The Tsova-Tushs were assimilated into the Georgian-speaking people and became Georgians. The speech of native Tushs was maintained only in the community of Tush Tsovati. This opinion belongs to Qizilashvili whose educational background is neither history nor linguistic. We will never discuss this opinion again. We would only add as an assumption that if the people of Tusheti spoke the non-Georgian language on the verge of the new and old eras, that non-Georgian must have been one of the languages of the Daghestanian group and not Vainakh. This historical-ethnographical part of Georgia geographically is connected by the river (gorge) to Daghestan and not to Chachneti.
Data about the migration of the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) from the northern Caucasus (Ingushya) to the mountains of eastern Georgia – Tusheti were published even in the press of the XIX century and expanded in the scientific materials of the XX century. The main argument was the similarity of the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) language with the Vainakh languages. According to narratives one of the first who published this opinion in the press of the XIX century was Ivane Tsiskarishvili – Tsova-Tush (Batsb) by origin (Tsikarov, 1843). The follower of this opinion was the linguist Akaki Shanidze. He even supposed that “the forefathers” of the Georgian-speaking Tushs “spoke the Tsova-Tush language and then gradually began speaking Georgian” (Shanidze, 1978, p. 109). Thus this author considered the Georgian-speaking Tushs as Georgian-Vainakh origin mixed people. The following authors wrote about the Vainakh origin of the Tsova-Tushs: P. Uslar, I. Desheriev, A. Genko, S. Makalatia, G. Melikishvili, V. Elanidze, V. Lagazidze, T. Uturgaidze, J. Stefanidze...
The mentioned problem caused the interest of N. Volkova – a Russian ethnographer, expert of the Caucasus (Volkova, 1977, pp. 84-89; Volkova, 1973, p. 161; Volkova, 1974, pp. 153-156). On the basis of the existing scientific materials and the narratives obtained by her (both among the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) and the north Caucasian Igushs), she concludes unambiguously that the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) migrated to Tusheti - the geographical part of the eastern Georgian mountains from the northern Caucasus – Ingushya. According to the recording of narratives by Volkova, the reason of migration of the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) was the religion. They were forced to convert Christianity into Muslim. In order not to start Mohammedans therefore they moved to the Georgian mountains. According to other narratives, in Ingushya where the ancestors of the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) lived the land was not enough and it was very unproductive. Therefore, they decided to look for the new land to settle. The place where they came from was called Vabi (Vatsi).
The narratives about the migration of the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) from the Northern Caucasus was recorded by N. Volkova herself with the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs): “we, the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) are Georgians but Kists by origin and our language also is Kist-related. At present, theTsovas are part of the Tushs but we came from another part, from the west, the country of Ghalgha (Ghalghai). When Shah-Abbas wanted to convert all of us to Muslim belief, then Ghaghlians decided to move to the mountains of Georgia” (Volkova, 1972, p. 84). Similar narrative was recorded by her with the Kists living in the neighbourhood of the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs). They live in Pankisi Gorge and migrated from Chechnia in middle of the XIX century: “Batsai (bothe the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) and the Georgian-speaking Tushs are meant – R.T.) are mountaineers and includes two people. The first ones “Chaghma-Tushs” are Georgians, the second are the Ghalghs. In the past only “Chaghma-Tushs”, the Georgian-speaking Tushs lived in the mountains of Georgia. The Batsbs escaped from the country of Ghalghs when Muslims entered Ghalgheti”.
N. Volkova Supports the narratives about the Ingush origin of the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) by linguistic data and relies on the monograph of I. Desheriev in which the special similarity of the Ingush and the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) languages is stressed. He even points to the place called Vabi (Vapi) from where the ancestors of the Batsbs migrated. According to the Ingush narratives, the reason of migration of the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) was the lack of land. At the same time, according to the ethnographic data fixed in Ingusheti, the ancestors of the Tsova-Tushs (the Batsbs) had been migrated to Ingusheti in one’s time from the other historical-ethnographic province of the eastern Georgian mountains – Khevsureti. They were related to the Khevsurs (Volkova, 1973, p.169). In another research the same other points to the migration of the part of the Tsova-Tush family names from Khevsureti Arkhoti community. Among those family names, according to historical reports, she mentions the big family name of the Tsiskarishvilis in the first place (Volkova, 1974, p.152).
It is worth remembering here an above mentioned narrative that the people Batsionni by name lived in the Likoki Gorge in Khevsureti from where they moved to the uncertain direction. In this respect it is also important that one of the villages in Khevsureti bears the name of “Batsaligo”. The Russian ethnographer N. Volkova mentioned as well that the language and culture of the people of the Maist community in Chachneti were once very close to the Georgians and they confessed Christianity in the past. Moreover, in the village of Rosnichu N. Volkova recorded the following narrative that the Chechens who live in the Malkhist community of Chachneti are the successors of the Khevsurs - Georgian mountaineers. N. Volkova thinks that the people living in the village Shuana - Ingush Gorge of Metkhali are the descendants of the migrants from Georgia (Khevsureti) (Volkova, 1973, p.166,168). By the way, the Vainakhs (Chachans) called “Shou” to the Georgian ethnographical group the Pshavs – neighbours of the Georgians.
In the XIX century 11 villages above mentioned Malkhisti community in Chachneti, who neighboured with Khevsureti was included in Tianeti district of Tbilisi province (the same happened in the middle centuries. In the census of Karl-Kakheti made at the end of the XVIII century the author of which is Ioane Bagrationi (a son of the last king of Georgia Giorgi XII), these places or “one gorge of Kisteti with its villages” were under the control of the Georgian Kingdom (I. Bagrationi, 1986, p. 72).
According to the census in 1886, a majority of population bore the family names with the Georgian –ur suffixes: Albakauri, Ashigauri, Barchauli, Badurgauli, Bakashauri, Gadumuri, Dadiguri, Zantauri, Karsamauli, Mukhauri, Khaiauri and others. As reported, these Kist (Chachan) family names were originally eastern Georgian mountaineers (Khevsurs). Thus, as it seems, bilateral migration links (processes) between the people of the eastern Georgian mountains and northern Caucasus mountaineers of the Daghestanian origin was not rare.
Now we should go back again to the Ingush narrative given in the book by N. Volkova about the relation between the Tsova Tushs (Batsbs) migrated to the mountais od Georgisa from Ingusheti and the Georgian mountaineers (Khevsurs). We recorded almost similar narrative in 2005 from Adam Aleksi Charkhoshveli who is competent in narratives (born in 1928) and who heard about it from old people in his childhood: six shepherds living in some villages of the Georgian lowland (five from Kiziqi region and one from the village Matani) stopped at the Gometsi Gorge of Pshavi for a long time while looking for good pastures. One man Sveluri by name joined them in Pshavi. The latter told the shepherds about the Jarieri Gorge in Ingusheti which was rich with excellent pastures. The Georgian shepherds of seven family names with their sheep and families definitely moved to Ingusheti. One local man joined them there. This was the origin of eight family names in one of the villages of Ingusheti. Later they entered into a marriage with the local people. The Ingush language became native for the successors of the shepherds of Georgian origin. After living in Ingusheti for a long time, the successors of Georgian migrants were under the stress of the local Ingushs because the conditions included long pasturing of sheep and not the permission of settlement. Pressed shepherds of Georgian origin and their families were forced to leave Ingusheti and now to move to Chachneti. They changed several places in Chachneti and finally, they settled in Tianeti. After certain time of staying in Tianeti, the ancestors of the Tsova-Tushs settled in three villages of Pirikiti community in Tusheti – Girevi, Chontio and Egho. After that they moved to Tsovati and eight family names settled separately in different villages. The first man who settled in Tsovati community was Tsoe - the representative of the Cheicheni family name. But neither his family nor others followed him. The decision about the final settlement of the Tsova-Tushs in Tsovati was made by the community assembly because the land was not enough even for the people of the three villages of the Pirikiti community (Girevi, Chontio and Egho). That is why the Tsova-Tushs buried the dead bodies in the village Chontio - Tusheti community of Pirikiti. The name Tsota (Tsovata) was given to the community after the name of the first settler “Tsoa”. They maintained Christianity but there are no narratives prove whether they preserved the Georgian language or not. The fact is that in the XVIII century the Tsova-Tushs were bilingual. Besides the Tsova-Tush language they could speak Georgian as well.
In this respect, the following materials of social character recorded by N. Volkova in her old age are of not less importance. According to them, the Ghalghs (Ingushs) considered themselves more privileged than the Vapiels (from where the Tsova-Tushs migrated). They stated that for killing one Ghalgh (Ingush) they could kill two Vapels in return (Volkova, 1973, p. 169).
N. Volkova does not doubt about the Ingush origin of the Batsbs (Tsova-Tushs) but she finds the dating of their migration to Georgia comparatively difficult. According to one of the narratives, they moved from the living place of their forefathers because Shah Abbas I forced them to convert to Islam. The invasions of above mentioned Shah mainly took place in the first quarter of the XVII century. According to this narrative, the migration of the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) must have taken place in the first quarter of the XVII century. But as it is known in the historiography, in the mentioned period Persian (Iranian) invasions did not take place in the northern Caucasus. Shah Abbas I invaded the east Georgia several times in the first quarter of the XVII century and completely destroyed everything. Persian (Iranian) invasions were responded by uprisings of Georgians. One of them broke out in 1659. The uprising at Bakhtrioni where there were winter pastures of the Tushs ended with the victory of the Georgians. The Georgian mountaineers – the Tushs, Pshavs, Khevsurs participated actively in it.
The migration of the ancestors of the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) to the Georgian mountains during Shah Abbas I is obviously doubtful by N. Volkova, because, as mentioned above, in the first quarter of the XVII century Iranian invasions in the northern Caucasus did not take place. In her opinion, the plot of including Shah Abbas invasions and the forced convert to Islam took place by the time when the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) had already lived in Tusheti. In order to prove that the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) had already lived in the mountains of Georgia by the beginning of the XVII century, the Russian ethnographer brings another, different source. Russian Embassy dated 1589-1590 and led by the prince Zvenigorodsky were recommended to go to Georgia through the route where “the Batsb Ridge” (i.e. hills) is mentioned between one tribe and two mountains. It is also mentioned in the document that “this Batsb land is owned by their sovereign Aleksandr” (i.e. the king of Kakheti Aleksandre).
N. Volkova relies on the Russian scientist A. Genko that “Batsb ridge” and “Batsb land” are the mountains and area of the Batsbs. If we share this opinion – adds N. Volkova – we should conclude that in the last quarter of the XVI century the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) lived in the mountains. We think that mentioned opinion causes a doubt because the Vainakhs called “Batsi” not only the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) but also Georgian-speaking Tushs.
N. Volkova exemplifies the supposition of the linguists that their settlements might have been happened by the time when the common Vainakh language still existed because according to I. Desheriev, the Batsb language preserved some marks of the common Vainakh language which was characteristic for the original language before it was divided into the Chachen and Ingush languages. This opinion is not strengthened by historical facts either. The first Georgian historical source about the narratives of the III century B.C. distinguishes the Chachens and Ingushs by calling them the Durdzuks and Ghlighvs accordingly.
Bilingualism of the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) is is the proof for Volkova about their settlement in the mountains of east Georgia which is also confirmed by the German scientist Gueldenstaedtius in the 70s of the XVIII century. We would add that this argument is not stable either. Bilingualism can occur in a certain group of people only among its two or three generations. It depends on the real situation. The areal of the settlement was arranged in such a way that if their migration from the northern Caucasus had definitely taken place, during two- three generations they surely would have learnt the second - Georgian language. It was caused by the necessity of contacts with the neighbouring georgian-speaking Tushs as well as the nature (type) of their farming – half nomadic shepherding and during the winter time moving the sheep to Kakheti lowland (Alvani Valley) pastures.
According to the Tsova-Tush (Batsb) historical narratives, from the very beginning they settled in the village Chontio – Pirikiti community of Tusheti, which is probably proved by the fact that after settling in Tsovati or at the head of Tusheti Alazani, they kept links with Chontio for a long time. It meant burying the dead villagers in the village Chontio - Tusheti territorial community. The people in Chontio necessarily joined the funeral procession. Only after the snowslide of the big mountain the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) stopped burying of their dead in Chontio. This narrative makes it obvious that only the small part of the ancestors of the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) must have been settled in the village Chontio – Pirikiti community of Tusheti. Chontio could not even hold the number of people which afterwards lived in four (or earlier eight) villages. Due to its geographical location, Chontio was able to hold and feed only 30-35 families. Those who left Chontio settled in the Tsovati village of Tsaro first.
If we rely on the narrative, there were two waves of migration of the Tsova- Tushs (Batsbs) from Ingusheti. The first one was in the village Chontio – Pirikiti community of Tusheti from where they moved to the Tsova-Tush village of Tsaro and it was the second wave of migration; During their stay in Tsaro a new wave of migration from Ingusheti started. The fact that people in Tsaro buried their dead in the village Chontio – Pirikiti community of Tusheti indicates that they had been settled there long time before as they had their cemetery and according to the traditions of mountaineers, the people migrated to Tsovati buried their dead next to their previous deceased. It is absolutely possible that the increase of the villages in Tsovati Indurta, Sagirta, Etelta (and also small villages: Nadirta and Mozarta) was caused by the growing the number of people particularly in Tsaro.
We will not touch the opinions of other scientists about the moving of the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) from Ingusheti to Georgia. However, we would like to offer the opinion of an author V. Elanidze. As he concludes, they migrated to Tusheti in the second half of the XVII century. (Elanidze, 1988, p.23).
We can name Abram Shavkhelishvili among those scientists who objected the opinion about the migration of the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) from Ingusheti to the east Georgia (Tusheti). He himself is a representative of the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) and knows their ethnography and folklore. A. Shavkhelishvili thinks that the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) are aged local people of Tusheti and have not moved from anywhere. Their bilingualism is caused by the infiltration of the people of Kist (Vainakh) origin. The scientist dedicated several books to the mentioned problem (Shavkhelishvili, 2001; Shavkhelishvili, 1987; Shavkhelishvili, 1977). He proves it by naming the authors with the same opinion that the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) are native locals. He cites the foreign authors (Gueldenstaedtius, Shifner, K. Kokh and O. Spenser). They wrote that “the Tushs are united in one fraternity”. They are Georgians by origin and believe Christianity (K. Kokh and O. Spenser, 1981, p.251,256).
To support his statement A. Shavkhelishvili largely uses ethnographical and folklore date as well. He draws an analogy between the toponymies “Tsobeni” and “Tsova” and “Tsanars” and “Tsova”. A. Shavkhelishvili’s view is not an exception though. Ivane Javakhishvili and Niko Mari had made an analogy between the mentioned toponymies earlier before. We would add that despite the same sounds, the scientists do not see the similarity between “Tsobeni” and “Tsova” at present. The same can be said about historical “Tsanari” and “Tsova”. Territorially “Tsoben” is quite far from Tsova. Tsobeni was an inhabitted locality near the Aragvi George in the east Georgia. As for the Tsanar tribe, it was located at the head of the river Tergi. In the IX century they settled in the lowland (Kakheti) and mixed with the locals. On the basis of analysis of various written documents, the opinion is acceptable nowadays in the science that the Tsanars were related to the Svans and they spoke the language close to the Svan language (Gvasalia, 1970, p. 753-756).
A. Shavkhelishvili asks questions to which naturally he gives answers himself. One of the questions sounds like this: can the language borrow two thirds of the vocabulary? The answer is as follows: There are no analogical facts of that in the world. Next question: Why did not the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) maintain anything from the old society or tradition responses of which can be found among the Vainakhs and why is their psychic and self-conscious (identity) so far from the Vainakhs? We would add that it beyond our competency to define the percentage of Georgian lexical units in the vocabulary of the Tsova-Tush (Batsbs) language. The second question that manners and traditions of the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) are of local Georgians and they have nothing in common with the Vainakh traditions and manners should not arise any surprise or doubt. Groups of people after moving to the different ethnic circumstances often change their attitude, traditions and mentality due to the people and natural-geographical surroundings. Not to go too far, the Chachens and Ingushs who are related to each other and have one origin are quite different in the way they keep household.
At the same time, religion should also been taken into the consideration. The Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) are Christians but the Vainakhs are Mohammedans. And religion contributed a lot to determine not only the manners, system of traditions and mentality but also an orientation of the values. Besides, the economical and farming links between the groups of people are of great importance. The Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) together with the rest of the Georgian- speaking Tushs were tightly connected with the lowland of Georgia, Christian Orthodox religion, Georgian language. Thus self-consciousness (identity) is often determined not by the origin but by the spiritual values, consciousness. In this view, the language itself does not often have decisive importance. It is an axiom in the ethnical history of the world people.
We have already mentioned above but we would like to repeat that the Tsova- Tushs (Batsbs) have Georgian family names. Their roots as well as the suffixes are Georgian. They end with the Georgian suffixes –dze, -shvili and –ur. Although when the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) speak the Tsova-Tush language they give their family names particular shape. As it is noted, “one group is formed by adding the element –ghar, another group adds –ur element. The family names of the second group also add the suffix –i to form plurals” (Chrelashvili, 2002, p. 292). For example, Apshinashvili is Apshina-ghar in the Tush language, Kavtarashvili – Kovtar-ghar, Chrelashvili – Chrela-ghar, Shvelashvili – Shvela- ghar, Charelishvili – Charlo-ghar, Longishvili – Luing-ghar, Veshaguridze – Veshkur-ghar, Torghoshvili – Torgha-ghar, Khachiuridze – Khachir-ghar and others. It is fairly noted that the –ghar element shows collectivity and possession (Chrelashvili, 2002, p.293). Family names of the second type in the Tsova-Tush language are formed by adding –ur//-r element (Chrelashvili, 2002, p.294). Examples: Meotishvili – Mevt-ur-i, Mchedlishvili – Chedl-ur-i, Shalapishvili – Shalp-ur-i, Kadagidze – Kadg-ur-i, Dingashvili- Ding-r-i, Tsotoidze – Tsot-r-i, Lagazidze – Lagz-ur-i and so on.
It should be noted that the family names formed by means of –ghar and –ur//-r suffixes express only plural in the Tsova-Tush language. “There is no family name in the Tush language which indicates only one person. It consists of the whole family name” (Chrelashvili, 2002, p.293). A Chrelashvili fairly supposed that the lack of the family names with the meaning of singular (lack of the family names in singular) might be caused by living in communities. Based on the collective nature of the mountainous territorial community, the realization of an individual did not take place. According to the mentality of mountaineers, the family name was a unified body and the individual behaviour was impossible. By representing the family names (names) only in plural form in the Tsova-Tush (Batsb) language the group (collective) mentality was expressed.
It is remarkable that both the –ghar and –ur//-r suffixes express the possession (towards an ancestor, founder of the family name) in the Tush language. –ur suffix is characteristic only for the Georgian language and it entered the Tsova- Tush language from the Georgian. However, Chrelashvili thinks that it is a substrate of the Georgian language in the Tsova-Tush language.
From the very beginning only the people with one family name lived in the Tsova-Tush (Batsb) village. According to the ethnographical data, they are the following: Peshkrou, Shuirtlou (Shurtlobi), Cheicheni, Shveluri, Beikhuri, Tsarbi, Bghujrobi and Uildghara. The Peshvrobs and Bghujrobis settled in Etelta, the Chechenis – in Zemo (Upper) Sagirta, the Shveluris – Kvemo (Lower) Sagirta, Shurtlobi – in Indurta, Beikhuri – in Mozverta, Uidghara (Uidrobi) – in Nadirta who used to Nadira (Naeidghara) from the very beginning, then – Uidghara and finally - Kuizhghara. As for Tsaro, the Tsaros (“Tsarbi” in the Tsova-Tush language) lived there. Various family names separated from them afterwards i.e. creation of new family names took place. The process of getting new family names from main names occurred not only in the period of living mountains but also after the migration to the lowland. There are a lot of fraternized family names (or the family names artificially related to each other), the ancestors of which mostly were the hired shepherds from different parts of Georgia and the northern Caucasus. The basis of the family names was the first name of a distinguished male ancestor. These family names both old and new represented one kindred circle.
Ethnographical data (reports) and the documents of the XIX century census depict an intereting picture about the family names of the Tsova-Tush (Batsb) origin. For example, the family name of Sveluris settled in one part of the village Sagirta as mentioned above. The Dingashvilis and Tsiskarishvilis were derived from the Shveluris (the family name of the Tsiskarishvilis is based on the male name of the pre-Christianity era “Tsiskara”). Later several new family names were derived from the family name of Tsiskarishvili. Despite this, the Tsiskarishvilis are large in number at present. For example, according to the population census in 1831, 71 families lived in the village Sagirta out of which 19 families bore the name of the Tsiskarishvilis.
The mentioned census shows that the originating of new family names was newly started. The process became intensive in the first quarter of the XIX century. To discuss the reason of it will take us long. Similar process took place in neighbouring historical-geographical part of Pshavi in the mentioned period. The divisions of old Pshav family names (names of divisions) turned into new family names (names). However, the old family names still continued their existence both in Pshavi and Tusheti. In 1873 28 families of the Tsiskarishvilis were registered in Sagirta, 31 families – in 1886, There were nine families of the Dingashvilis in Sagirta. In the census of 1873 another family name Saghirashvili was ascribed to one of the DAngashvilis. There were 10 households the Kadagidzes in this village in the mentioned year.
The Cheichenis lived in the second half of the village Sagirta (it was called Tsoeta in the past). This family name includes about 12 family names: Shavkhelishvili, Babishvili, Edisheridze, Baselishvili, Mikeladze, Bachulashvili, Jimsherishvili, Itoshvili, Charelishvili, Pelishvili, Tsikhelishvili. The main part of the Cheichenisis destroyed. Their direct descendants are the Sagishvilis. However, according to other data, they are the successors of the Berdiashvilis migrated from Khevsureti. Other family names are gathered, artificially related family names.
From the very beginning the family name of Peshkrou lived in the village Etelta. Officially, mentioned family name does not exist any more at present. The following family names are combined in this name: the Charkhoshvilis, the Mushtaraulis, the Bakhtarishvilis, the Baindurishvilis, the Badzoshvilis, the Jikhoshvilis, the Baidzes, the Papashvilis, the Bukuraulis, the Begumishvilis, the Khadishvilis, the Nakvetauris, the Chrelashvilis, the Ghalishvilis, the Shankishvilis, the Ozhelauris. The direct descendants of the Pashkrous are only Badzoshvilis. Other family names are fraternized (or the family names artificially related to each other). The Bukuraulis, the Papashvilis and the Begumishvilis are the successors of Mgelika Chincharauli migrated from the village Shatili. Despite the fact that 16 family names of the people in Etelta are not actually related by blood (are artificially related) they do not enter into the marriage with one another.
The root family name (main name) in Indurta used to be Shortiani (Shortiuli). They bear the family name Shortishvili. The rest of the family names are artificially related to one another. For example, the Lagazidzes came from Pshavi. The Usharaulis were distinguished by their number (according to the census of 1873 – 13 families).
The following family names lived in the village Tsaro: the Ujiraulis, the Sulkhanauris, the Datoidzes, the Khachirishvilis, and the Zhodurishvilis. Their original family name was Tsaroeli (“Tsarbi” in the Tsova-Tush language). But actually none of the mentioned family names are the direct descendants of the Tsaroelis. Th original inhabitants of the village Tsaro were destroyed by the black plague. According to the tradition in the mountains, the first one who settled in the place of the Tsaroelis was Sulkhan Akhalauri and as he was declared as an heir he got the family name of Tsaroeli. It is true that at present the official family name (as the narrator says “name to be written”) of the successors of Sulkhan Akhalauri is Sulkhanauri but the people call them the Tsaroelis (“Tsarbi” in the Tsova language) even today.
Besides the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs), the migrants from Pshavi, Khevsureti and Kisteti (Chechneti) lived in the villages of the Tsova-Tushs. Migrated family names were under the protection of the local names. As the locals used to say “they were fraternized”. It was traditional in the montains of eastern Georgia to accept and familiarize aliens. It was the artificial way of making a new comer (migrant) as a relative. The latter and their successors were never distinguished from relatives by blood. The alien became the rightful member of the territorial community. And as it is observed, it strengthened the social union. For mountaineers integrity was one of the most important values (Kandelaki, 2001). Such an event is typical for all traditional societies and the dichotomy is called “alien-relative” in the western ethnology.
There were rules and traditions of accepting and familiarizing of an alien. It was crowned by conducting the ritual in the praying place. Such aliens were not rare in Tuheti and among the Tsova-Tushs either.
In the village of Etelta one of the main and previous family names was the Mushtaraulis. But according to ethnographical materials, the Mushtaraulis were not from Ingusheti but from Khevsureti. The same can be said about the Kavtarashvilis who live there. They were welcome by the Tsova-Tush (Batsb) family name - the Turkoshvils. The Kavtarahvilis joined the Turkoshvilis – they “fraternized”. The Udzgharaulis in Indurta come from Khevsureti, too. They were accepted by the Baikhodzes. In the census of 1873 one household of the Uzgharaulis lived in the village Indurta: the Khevsuri origin of this household is confirmed by the cencus of 1831: “Mgelia Uzgharauli from Khevsureti”. As seems, this particular Mgelia Uzgharauli was a newcomer and had not completed the ritual of the alien acceptance yet. That is why he was not a rightful member of the society and for this reson he was registered as Khevsuri.
In the documents of the cameral census of the XIX century several alien families were fixed. Among similar migrants are named: “Khevsuri Ocho Sasanidze” in the same village Indurta, “Khachir Sindidze” from Khevsureti in Tsaro (the aliens from Tusheti were not few in number in Phavi and Khevsureti. For example, the Kutsashvilis in in Pshavi are descendants of the Tsova-Tush (Batsb) Sulkhanauris). According to the census in Sagirta 3 Kist families were registered. As it seems the Kists were baptized as Christians because they bore the local Christian names (e.g. Ivane). In the cameral census of 1873 there were 17 alien families from Chacneti in all. In the census of 1886 Arabuli who had come from Khevsureti in 1880 was registered in Tsaro.
The aliens in Tsova-Tusheti were those who frequently escaped from their residential places because of blood revenging. They very accepted in the mountain territorial community on certain conditions for some years and after the observation the village collectively decided on the issue of their artificial relation. In other historical-geographical parts of Georgia similar migrants – artificially related people – changed their family names and were registered by the local family names. It was not necessary in case of the Tushs although “the alien relatives” did not bear their original family names there. They formed the new family names mainly based on the first names of their fathers, grandfathers or any other forefathers. For example, we mentioned above that the Mushtaraulis and Udzgharulis are in Tsovati are from Khevsureti. There were no similar family names in Khevsureti at all. The migrants formed the new family names but they did not get the local fraternized family name.
The events of becoming artificially related with a stranger had been formed by means of the certain ritual in Tsova. The latter should be performed in Sacred Trinity’s Church, during Whitsunday holidays in which all the village population was taking part. The stranger was sacrificing a bull to a church; Beer was boiling in the church pots. Then followed the general feast. Only after that, a newcomer was considered as a member of some Tsova-Tush (Batsbi) kin, a blood brother. A stranger was under the protection of the local family admitting him as a brother. The artificially related person was no longer differed from other blood relatives. It is known from the scientific literature, that among the Baikhoidzes living in Indurta village of Tsova-Tusheti, there were several family names became related with the help of above bull ritual, that is to say, they were fraternized families (Bardavelidze, p.115, 1985). There were cases when the village objected to fraternize a person. Hence no appropriate rituals were held in such cases. Such person had to leave the village. The main event of the ritual was a sacrificing a white bull. In the beginning of the XX century, among Tsova-Tuhs migrated to lowland, there was a herdsman bearing a family name of Baramidze who intended to become artificially related with the Mikeladzes. The corresponding ritual was held. But later, on the skin of a sacrificed bull a red stain was discovered. After this event, the bull ritual during the fraternization, had been eliminated.
One of the Tsova-Tushs’ churches (“Trinity”) was mentioned above, where were held the ritual for admitting a stranger to a family, a village, a community. There are many churches named for Trinity in Georgia. We have also mentioned above, that according to a certain legend, one of the reasons of the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) migration from Ingusheti was the forcible propagation of Islam in their initial dwelling place. They considered themselves as Christians and by means of migration they managed to remain faithful to Christianity. Except “Trinities”, Tsova-tushs have other churches as well, such as: “Kopala”, “Tsorula”, “John the Baptist”, “Maria , Mother of God”, “ Saint George”. The first two churches (“Kopala”, “Tsorula”) have nothing in common with the Christian Saints. The pre-Christian period churches named “Kopala, were in other mountainous regions (in Khevsureti, Pshavi) of East Georgia as well. It is true that “John the Baptist”, “Maria , Mother of God”, “Saint George” are Christian Saints and they are associated with Christianity, but these were not Christian churches. Those were pre-Christian praying places bearing the names of Christian Saints. Such small pre-Christian buildings, having Takhcha (Shukumi) for lighting candles, are not few in other mountainous regions of East Georgia either. The Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs), as well as other Georgian- speaking Tushs, Considered themselves as Christians (they were even belonging to Kharchasho episcopacy, eparchy), but in fact we have to deal with the syncretism of beliefs, paganism and Christianity. The religious holiday celebrated at the main church “Trinity”, was called “Dalaloba”, which usually ended with horse-race.
In the ethnographically available period, Orthodox Church service in Tusheti is not confirmed (The same could be said about Pshavi and Khevsureti). Who was managing the local religious holidays? The local people, often the aged, who were distinguished by there correct life style, wisdom, rationality. They should be well aware of habits and traditions inherited from their ancestors. They were responsible for bringing the flag out of the praying place and then bless it. Such a person was called “Master” by Tush people, “Khevisberi” – by Pshavs, and “Dean” – by Khevsurs.
In the XIX century records of population census, Khevsurs, in Tsova-Tusheti villages, are registered separately. But as it turns out, Khevisberi had no religious function among the Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs). According to G. Bochoridze’s definition, who recorded ethnographical materials in the 30s of the XX century, Khevisberi was an administration position in old times (Bochoridze, p.326, 19993). Actually, Khevisberis were the village leaders. According to the materials (the middle of the XIX century) of Ivane Tsiskaridze, in Tsova – the Tushs (Batsbs), as well as in Georgian-speaking Tushs, Khevisbers were considering the cases of: blood-feud, women’s rights, theft, patrimony and cattle damages, relations with neighboring tribes, within family relationships, and others. He was responsible for land distributions, as well. Khevisberi was a member of the Patriarchs Council. In the1831 recordings, Khevisberis are registered in Tsova-Tushs’ three villages (Sagorta, Indurta and Tsaro). e.g. Sagorta’s Khevisberi was Edisher Edisherashvili, Tsaro’s – Mika Serilishvili, and in Indurta, there were two of them – Dopinaur Khitiridze and Ivane Turkoshvili. Kvevisberis are no longer registered in the records of 1843. Instead, the Natsvalis (vicegerents) are recorded separately. Natsvali (vicegerents) were appointed representatives of the Russian Government, occupying administrative posts locally. A certain Mikho Jikhoidze occupied the above position in Etelta, Punchia Bachelishvili – in Sagorta, and Shaa Akhuruli – in Tsaro. The Tsova-Tushs (Tushs generally), as well as Khevsurs and Pshavs, never had a feudal lord. They officially were declared as serfs of the State, the King. Their obligation as the borderers was to guard boundaries. At the same time, they were the King’s personal bodyguards. Taxes were paying only those who shepherded there sheep on the lowland pastures (Alvani velley) in winter. We will review this subject later. Now we’ll only admit that, in order to govern this region, the State (King) appointed officials, called Mouravs (Governers) in Tusheti. The Mouravi of Tusheti, who traditionally came from feudal family of Choloqashvili, was usually occupying the prince’s residence and was fulfilling his official duties there. He was leaving for the mountains, only if it was necessary. The factual mountainous region manager was Khevisberi, who, as it was already mentioned above, was acting not according to the feudal law, but according to the traditional (habitual) justice. Tsarist Russia gradually substituted Khevisbers with Natsvals (vicegerents), because elected Khevisbers enjoyed the people’s confidence and as for, Natsvals (vicegerents), they were appointed by State for performing the administrative duties.
As it was mentioned above, the number of legislative cases was solved through traditional (habitual) justice. In consideration of claims together with Khevisbers were often participating the members of the Patriarchs Council. The Patriarchs Council took an active part in social matters, as well. In Tsovata community, the board had its definite place of gathering. The meetings of the distinguished and aged people usually were held near the praying place. In cold winter days, the board was meeting in one of the houses on the outskirts of the village. The solving problematic issues through the Patriarchs Council was also peculiar to other mountaineers of East Georgia. Tsova-Tushs called the board’s gathering places “Sabcheo”, or “Saanjmo”. The both of these terms are more than once mentioned in ancient written monuments of Georgia. But Tsova- Tushs (Batsbis) were participating not only in solving questions regarding Tsovata community, they were permanently involved in the work of General Tushs Gathering. “If the problematic issue referred only to the interests of a separate gorge, or community, then it was considered by the community, or gorge Patriarchs Council. But if the issue regarded with the interests (e.g. armed attacks on Tusheti, gather supportive army for Kacketi, regulate inter- community conflicts, etc.) of the whole Tusheti, than there should be called the whole-Tusheti gathering with the representation of elected people from all the four communities. The place for gathering – “Mirgval Veli” (“Round Velley”) was preliminary selected. Mirgval Veli had a very convenient location. It was situated between the four gorges, i.e. societies. The called Gathering of Tushs represented the superior body of Tusheti. The Gathering decisions applied to all population of the four societies” (Shavkhelishvili, p. 34, 1987).
As it turns out, the members of the Patriarchs Council were the same members of the gatherings that had a right to consider any issue of the day. In addition, it appeared that all families had their leaders to whom the members were applying for consultation. A kind of court consisted of 10-12 “counsilors”, in other words, “Chenilebi” (selected) people. Each community representatives had their leaders in Gathering. Such authoritative person in Tsovata community in the XIX century, turned out to be a resident of Sagirta - Devdari’s Anta (Anta is a proper name, and Devdari is a patronymic. In Tusheti, a person was often called this way - by his first and patronymic name. In such cases, the patronymic was usually in possessive case).
Thus, among Tsova-Tushs (Batsbis) and other Georgian-speaking Tushs, before Georgia and Russia joined together and even for a long time afterwards, justice was administered through traditional (habitual) justice, instead of State (feudal) legislation, that was caused by a number of various reasons. Tusheti (as well as other mountainous regions of West Georgia) during about 7-8 months was isolated from the center. Besides, it should be taken into consideration, that since the XV century, unified State (kingdom) of Georgia had divided into several kingdoms and principalities, and the kings of Kakheti had no longer possibility to pay proper attention to Tushs belonging to Kakheti kingdom. Enemies’ frequent attacks caused difficulties in this respect. On the contrary, lowland often stayed in the hope of mountaineers (including Tushs) protection. In return, Kakheti kings granted the mountaineers absolute autonomy in solving their inner affairs. But nevertheless, Tushs were dependent on lowland. They used winter pastures of lowland which the kings granted them in possession.
Until describing the forms of farming, we should say a couple of words about Tushs’ family forms. In the scientific literature is indicated that, in Tsovata community there were both, individual (small) and big families. The latter was often called “family communities”. Abraham Shavkhelishvili speaks about Tsova-Tushs’ big families in his monograph. But an ethnographer Rusudan Kharadze, who dedicated two volumes to the problem of big families in Georgia, does not give a single example of Tsova-Tushs (Batsbi) big families. According to Shavkehlishvili’s materials, “the existence of inseparable families proves the fact that the families of Bukurauli, Abashidze, Usharauli, Bartishvili lived undividedly almost until the Soviet period” (Shavkehlishvili, p. 36. 1987). From data of the XIX century cameral description, we could not define as many examples of existing big (inseparable) families in Tsova-Tushs, as in other Georgian ethnic groups. It was pointed above, that in 1886 a Tsova-tush family, on average, consisted of 4.54 heads. This number obviously excludes the possibility that big families were common among Tushs. An ethnographer V. Itonishvili (p. 444, 1975) also accentuates that, “among Tsovas dominated forms of living in individual families. As for big, inseparable families, in comparison of general family number, they were considerably lesser.” From the XIX century archival documents could also be seen that, there were a small number of big (inseparable) families among Tsova-Tushs. In 1886, in Etelta village is registered only one big family, the head of which was Durmishkhan Jikhoidze. He lived together with his married brother Iob’s family. In Sagirta, 14 heads lived in Timote Mikel Mikelishvili’s family. He was 70 years old and together with him lived his three married sons with their children. His sons were 39, 38, and 28 years old, respectively. In the same Sagirta, Gabriel Ioseb Tsiskaridze had a big inseparable family. There, together with him, lived his married brother, Ioseb. Only three inseparable families are registered in Indurta village: Solomon Efime Kavtaradze’s, Nikoloz Zakaria Burkidze’s and Simon Grigol Ushurauli’s. If we compare big families (inseparable) quantities in Tsova-tushs’ and other Georgian historical-ethnographic regions, we’ll see that it is considerably less in Tsova-Tusheti, and the number of heads living in families are also less (In other regions were families with 25 – 30 – 40 -50 heads).
As it turns out from ethnographic scientific literature, big (inseparable) families had more sheep than individuals. There are mentioned the big families of Bukurauli and Ozhilauri from Etelta, Zhimirashvili family from Indurta, the families of Shalipishvili, Adirauli and Akhurauli from Sagirta. But some small (individual) families with its economical possibilities were equal to those big families (Itonishvili, p. 450-451, 1976).
We will speak briefly about conjugal relations. Until Tsova-Tushs (Batsbis) migration to lowland, their conjugal relations were relatively limited. Closed traditional mountain society and geographic environment, did not give Tsova- Tushs (Batsbis) the possibility of seeking partners in other historical- ethnographic regions. Getting married to not Georgian neighboring ethnic units (Kists, or Chechens, Daghestans) was out of question because of the religious difference (Christians and Muslims did not marry each other). Therefore, the circle of marriage partners was limited with Tsova-Tushs and Georgian-speaking Tushs. From this point of view, they still have the intensive relationships.
For Tsova-Tushs (Batsbis) was forbidden to enter into a marriage with descendants of one and the same ancestor. Artificial relations also were posing an obstacle in this respect; Related through, so called, “bull-pot” ritual, the members of fraternized families could not marry each other. Alike other Western Georgian mountain dwellers, Tsova-Tushs (Batsbis) had a “silence” habit (It was a common event in Caucasus). e.g. A daughter – in – law was not allowed to talk with her father-in –law for, about, two-three years, or with her mother-in-law – for a month. A daughter – in – law had no right to speak with her brothers-in-law for a definite time. At the end of a “silence” term, mother-in-law was making a present to her. Only after that, the daughter – in – law was allowed to speak and enter into contact with her mother-in-law. From his part, a father-in-law, at the expiration of the 2-3- year period, was also making a present to his daughter – in – law: a knife, a ring, or money. But the present was not given to her directly from his hands. A mother-in-law was presenting it in the presence of her husband’s sister, or brother. At the end of 2- 3 years term, a daughter – in – law was bringing wine to the father – in – law. The latter would bless her and say: “I bought you and you must start speaking”. There were cases of presenting a cow, or a sheep to a daughter –in-law from father-in-law’s part. In old times, a wife will never speak with her husband, or pronounce his name, in the presence of other people.
A daughter – in – law was always polite to her family members. She called “Dad” (father) her father – in – law, “Nan” (mother) – her mother – in – law. The next day after wedding, a bride was brought to the village spring. She had to take water to her new home together with the mistress of the house (mother-in-law).
The aged people were held in respect in Tsova-Tushs (Batsbis) families. The younger family members would never have contradicted to its elder members. Conjugal unit was considered sacred. Unfaithfulness was extremely shameful, disgraceful. It never happened in fact. Traditional (habitual) justice was administering a severe punishment to marital rape, or profligacy. A violator would be condemned to death and a husband could cut his unfaithful wife’s hair, nose, or arm; Public indignation was also guaranteed for such a woman. According to Tsova-Tush tradition, the elder brother had to marry first. The principle of seniority was also kept by sisters. As in other parts of Georgia, in Tsova-Tusheti, a woman was given a marriage portion. No other property was inherited by a woman, even if she had no brother. All movables and immovable property were inherited a brother, or brother’s sons. (There was not such tradition in Svaneti. If a woman had no brothers, she inherited the parents’ property). The ethnographers had stated the facts of bigamy in Tsova-tusheti. In case of wife’s sterility, after passing several years, she herself tried to look another woman for her husband for providing him with a heir.
Not only in the Middle Ages, but even in the XX century Tsova-Tushs’ (Batsbis) social life was mostly regulated through traditional (habitual) justice. Blood – feud is no longer characteristic to their way of life. But until the 20s of the XX century ransom for committed murder was common in Tusheti. Ransom was paid by way of copper pots and salt. If someone could not, or did not pay the fixed ransom, he could not stay in the village any longer; He, together with his family, had to leave the village, because he would be in danger until reaching the age of 60. The justice of Tsova-Tusheti (Batsbi) imposed different measures of punishment for criminal crimes. For cutting an arm and damaging an eye, a convict was sentenced to pay 120 bulls; 3 cows - for breaking a tooth. A woman kidnapper could be sentenced of death. Exiling a guilty person from the community (village) or not admitting him at the religious holidays was the extreme penalty according to the traditional (habitual) justice.
The Tsova-Tushs’ (Batsbis) rules for going into military campaign, are described in the scientific literature. Before going in war, each warrior was leaving a small white stone on a special square. After returning they were taking there stones. The rest of stones were equal to the quantity of dead warriors.
As is well known, the Georgian mountaineers (Tsova-Tushs among them) and the ethnic groups of North Caucasus (Vainakhs, Daghestans) often were at enmity with each other. The facts of attacking each other for taking away the cattle were frequent. In the XIX century, Chechens and Daghestans made there attacks more intensive, since Georgia had become the Russian colony and North Caucasians were continuing fights with Russian empire. e.g. It is known that in 1837, Chechens and Daghestan Didos destroyed the two Tush villages (Diklo and Shenako). The reason of this, according to the historians, was that the Russian authority disabled North Caucasian mountaineers to buy wheat in Georgia through Tusheti. So, this was one of the reasons because of which starving Daghestans attacked Tusheti. From their part, Tsova-Tushs (and Tushs, generally) were using the mountains of Daghestan, the facts of tending sheep on summer pastures, were not too rare. By the way, Tushs were taking sheep on Daghestan pastures even when Daghestan and Chechnia were struggling for liberty against Russia. At the same time, Tushs had the developed trade relations with North Caucasians. Vainakhs and Daghestans could be seen in every community performing all kinds of works there, especially in the XIX century, when sheep breeding reshaped in a new capitalist way, and Tushs had no time for husbandry and housekeeping. The neighbors, Leks and Didos were plowing and razing cattle in Tusheti. North Caucasians were establishing contacts with Georgian lowland through Tusheti. They never broke off these relations during the course of the whole Georgian history. One of the reasons of close economic and cultural relations was the tradition of fraternizing existed in Caucasian mountains. Tsova-Tushs (Batsbis) and Tushs generally, were often fraternizing not only with other Georgian mountaineers, but also with Kists (Chechens) and Didos (Daghestans). The appropriate rituals were always followed this tradition. The future blood brothers were dropping silver coin scrapes into a bowl full of milk, than they drank the milk and after that they were considered as, so called - “oath and silver eaten”. Another form of fraternizing was, when in the same wooden bowl the two men were dripping blood from their cut fingers. There was the other form fraternizing as well. If the candidates’ mothers were alive, they were going to them together and touching mothers’ (each other’s) breasts with their teeth. This ritual was held in the presence of the whole family and the neighbors. The sense of collectivity was characteristic to the mentality of the mountain dwellers. The blood brothers often changed their horses and armament. It was not obligatory, though.
As the legend says, Tushs, North Caucasian Vainakhs and Daghestans had other kinds of relationships as well. Particularly, constructing of some houses and towers are attributed to the latter. All able-bodied men had to participate in building the houses and towers in Tsova -Tusheti. Some scientists consider the ethnographic materials on inviting the North Caucasians as builders in Tusheti, improbable (S. Makalatia, A. Shavkhelishvili). They state that during such frequent conflicts, it was impossible to entrust construction of defensive complexes to representatives of neighboring, not Georgian units. Besides, A. Shavkhelishvili accentuates that, the construction methods, architecture and style of Tusheti and Chechnia, are different. But in our opinion, it doesn’t worth eliminating the possibility of Chechens and Leks participation in houses and towers constructions. It is well known how skilful their North Caucasian neighbors were in stone masonry. According to the ethnographic data, “The Tushs did not know how to build houses. Leks were constructing houses in Tusheti, woodworking was performing the Rachvel (western Georgian ethnic group)” craftsmen. (Makalatia, p .p. 137- 138, 1983).
Thus, we favor the idea of North Caucasians participation in houses and towers constructions in Tusheti. The Georgian mountaineers and Chechens and Daghestans were not only at odds with each other. There were long periods of friendly, cultural and economic relations between them. Besides, it should also be taken into consideration that, historically sheep breeding was the most developed field in Tusheti. It had large scopes from the very outset. In this respect, were distinguished Tsova-Tushs (Batsbis) and Georgian-speaking Tushs from Piriqiti community. In sheep breeding were occupied the big part of able- bodied females. It is evident that they could not combine another professional work with sheep breeding.
Two types of fortresses were widespread in Tusheti. The front doors of one of them were from the ground floor and of another – from the first floor. Certainly, in the second type of the fortress (towers) there was a wooden ladder to get to the first floor, which could be removed after getting on it. These fortresses had defensive functions. In fortresses with the front doors on the first floor, war prisoners were kept on the first floor, and the house dwellers were staying upstairs. The sixth floor was used for combating; Rolling down stones, shooting attackers from there. The average height of Tush fortresses were 12-13 meters. They are mostly built in impassable mountains. However, one could often meet the fortresses (towers) next to the dwelling houses.
One of the five-storied towers of Indurta village in Tsova-Tusheti was distinguished from the others with its 125 meter underground tunnel, through which the tower was connected to mill situated on the river-bank. They say that the tunnel height was 1. 5 meters ( Shavkhelishvili, p. 116, 2001).
There also were many observation towers in Tusheti, from which were keeping a look-out of paths, roads, pastures and passes. Owing to these observation towers, the information about enemy invasion was spread rapidly among the four communities of Tusheti. As soon as getting note, the villagers were hiding in their fortresses, and the men were preparing to go to fight against enemy.
Concerning the construction date of Tush fortresses (towers), there are different opinions in scientific literature. Some of the scientists consider them as built in the Middle Ages, others think that they are of later period – the XVII - XVIII centuries. In our opinion, constructing such defensive buildings was possible in any period of time, as the mountaineers were guarding the boundaries in the name of the State.
Tsova-Tusheti differed from the other three Georgian-speaking Tush communities (Chagma, Gometsari, Pirikita) with one thing – the existence of tombs, graves above ground level, in Tsaro village of Tsovata. In all other respects, the traditions, habits, social relations, spiritual or material culture, economical life of Tsova - Tushs (Batsbis) and other Georgian-speaking Tushs, were factually the same. Thus, the only difference between them was in toms (above ground level graves buildings) in Tsovata, the existence of which are not proved in the rest of Tusheti. Five tomb units’ existence in Tsaro village of Tsovata community, are also confirmed by Vera Bardavelidze ( p. 119-121, 1985). Quite many ruins of such tombs, on the whole, are in Tsovata “where remained 11 ruined and half ruined defensive towers, quite a lot tomb ruins and houses” (Shavkhelishvili, p. 118, 2001).
According to photos and tables given in Bardavelidze’s book, these tombs (underground level graves) are similar to tombs characteristic for Chechnia, Ingushia and Osetia. It is well known that the natives of the mentioned countries – Chechens, Ingushs and Osetins (as well as Karachians and Balkars) – in the Middle Ages used underground buildings for burying the diseased. The tombs are small arched rooms with pyramid shaped roofs. The tombs had one, or two small windows for carrying in corpse. There were wooden and stone shelves for diseased. Cold wind of mountains and draught were causing mummification of corpse. In the North Caucasus underground tombs were mostly, ancestral. The fact of missing tombs in Chechnia and Ingushia, shows the lack of patrimonial relations among them. (Topchishvili, p. 179-189, 2005). Ingushs were considered as skilful builders of tombs in Caucasus. The tomb constructions in Ossetia are mostly attributed to Ingushs. We are confident that Tsova-Tush (Batsbi) tombs do not belong to classic tomb style and they must be of later period than tombs built in North Caucasus. According to ethnographic data, the tombs of Tsovata community were built because of the expected cholera epidemic. The infected people were getting into tombs themselves.
As it is known, the ethnic group of Tushs changed there dwelling place. In the XIX-XX centuries, the mountaineers became lowland dwellers. This migration to lowland and their settling there did not occur at one stroke. Tsova-Tushs (Batsbis) were first Tushs migrated to lowland. It is true that Tsova-Tushs left Tsovata in the 30s of the XIX century, but they were maintaining contacts with the dwelling place of their ancestors, as they were spending summer in Tsovata. Before settling in Alvani, Tsova-Tushs (Batsbis) lived in mountain- lowland transitional zone – in Tbatana. After moving to Alvani valley, in lowland, Tbatana became their summer resort. It was mentioned above that, initially Tbatana and 3-4 adjoining villages were the temporary dwelling places for them. Living there temporarily at first and later staying there forever, was caused by the nature of farming – the half – nomadic form of sheep breeding.
Tsova-Tushs (Batsbis) paved the way of lowland to other Georgian-speaking Tushs. It is true, that the reason of leaving Tsovata by Tsova-Tushs (Batsbis), was natural disaster. But if it were not the specificity of their farming and historical possession of Alvani valley, most likely the migrations in groups would never happened and they would have to settle in different villages. It follows from this that, living in different villages; they would not have possibility to preserve their original language.
In documents of the XIX centuries population census (provided by the Russian imperial authority), are always defined the type of farming in which the population of each village had been engaged. For example, in 1886 family lists, next to the names of Tsovata inhabitants were written: "Cattlemen "; As for Georgian-speaking Tushs, they were defined either as "cattlemen", or – "farmers". Almost all registered "cattlemen" were from Piriqita community. It turns out that both types of farming were characteristic to neighboring ethnic group of Pshavs. They were both, “cattlemen and farmers”. Khevsurs were "farmers". Certainly it does not mean that Khevsurs were farming only. Actually, they were cattlemen as well. In Khevsureti there was a symbiosis of farming - the stock farming and agriculture had been mixed there. Probably, as far as the half-nomadic sheep breeding was not characteristic to Khevsurs, the registrars considered that they were farmers. And Pshavs were considered both, “cattlemen and farmers”, because they were half – nomadic sheep breeders and at the same time, they had the developed agriculture in Pshavi, i.e. unlike Tsova-Tushs (Batsbis), they did not leave their ancestral dwelling places, that’s why, the recorders counted them both, the cattlemen and the farmers. We are interested in Tsova-Tushs (Batsbis) at the moment. It is evident that from the 30s of the XIX century, since leaving Tsovata, they were not cultivating lands there. The only farming field was sheep breeding for them.
Since when the Geogian mountaineers – Tushs (Tova-tushs among them) are busy with sheep breeding? Or, to be more specific – busy with half-nomadic type of sheep breeding?
First of all, we should find out in what kind of relations were there between the Georgian mountain dwellers, in our case Tushs, and the Georgian Government. The historian of the first part of the XVIII century, the representative of Georgian Royal family name Vakhushti Bagrationi, wrote that Tushs had a lot of sheep, as they had many summer pastures in mountains and shepherded sheep herds in Kakheti valleys. Tushs were feeding (supported themselves) with the help of Kakheti region (Vakhushti Bagrationi, p. 554, 1973). The above mentioned author also informs us, that the country (region) of Tushs’ neighbors, Pshavi, is mountainous, with thick wood and rugged rocks and that is why they behave quiet, i.e. they are submissive to those who possesses Tianeti (the transitional place between mountains and lowland), so far they were always supporting themselves owing to Kakheti (p.533). The same could be said about Tushs. Economical relations were leading and important in relationships of highland and lowland, i.e. of mountain and lowland dwellers, or to say in other words, territorial communities and State (kingdom). And in these economical relations, in the first place was the sheep breeding and the winter pastures granted in permanent possession. Such form of relationship is well seen from the above statements of Vakhushti Bagrationi: In the king Levan II’s time (1520-1574), Tushs and Pshav-khevsurs were not in king’s obedience any longer. King Levan tried to achieve their obedience not by using force, but by promising to guarantee the safe pasturing on Kakheti lowland. After that, the mountaineers (certainly, Tushs among them) were sending their troops to Court of Kakheti and they were paying taxes (a sheep per gun shield) as well.
Georgian kings had to issue such documents for Tushs rather often, or to be more precise, kings were renewing the documents on lowland pastures possession. The 1757, 1782 and 1797 deeds (documents) could serve as the examples. It is accentuated in the document that Tushs had always been faithful servants of Bagrationi Royal family, therefore the royal family granted the state lands to “all Tushs” (Tushs of each community) for tending and shepherding sheep. It is also stated in the document, that like their predecessors the royal family presented Tushs those lands in Kakheti lowland (see details in Shavkhelishvili, p.43, 1977). In the deed of theKing Teimuraz II of the same 1757 date, is stated that since olden days Tushs had to pay taxes for using pastures, and for grass cutting they had to pay extra payment to the State. The king gives the following promise that, as there were no villages built on Alvani valley there would never be such and there children (i.e. the future kings ) would never allow that happen. (The original of this document, as is stated in the scientific literature, were kept in Tati, Ivane and Potskhver Potskhverashvili’s home.- Makalatia, p.36, 1983).
There is the document of later period of 1782 about the Tushs usage of Kakheti lowland as winter pastures. This document is issued by the King Erekle II. In this document are specified the places other than Alvani valley, such as: the gorges of Lopoti and Pankisi. The document states that these three places are for Tushs and forbids to Pshavs to argue with Tushs concerning the above stated. As it turns out from this document, Tushs had a lot of sheep then. The King’s document states that if these three places (Alavani valley, Lopoti and Pankisi gorges) were not enough for Tushs’ sheep, each Tush shepherd was allowed to place two herds in outskirts of every village of Kakheti.
From the XVIII century documents issued by the kings is clear, that Tushs were not in possession of the pastures of Kakheti lowland. Those were the State lands given in usage to hem. Therefore the new king was updating the old document. Thus, the State has the mechanism of having the mountaineers (Tushs in this case) in obedience. He could give, or not give the pastures in usage. In the first case the document was renewed. As far as, we do not have the sources about the pasture possession earlier than of the XVI century period, the question is – since when Tushs were in possession of those pastures? From the XVI century document issued by the king Levan II, we find out that Tushs had possessed the lowland pastures since olden days. There is an assumption made in Georgian historiography that, the relations of mountain and lowland, in this respect, were established very early, at least from the V century. Otherwise, it was impossible to join the integrated state system. The both sides were interested in that. D. Muskhelishvili points out: “It is absolutely clear that, the lack and infertility of land on the one hand, and the surplus of stock, specifically sheep, together with the absence of winter pastures, on the other, was the main economic factor, upon which were based the mountain-lowland relations”. (Muskhelishvili, p. 218, 1977). Arranging these contacts which were based on economic relations envisaging the provision of the mountaineers with winter pastures (the usage and not possession) began in the V century, in the King Vakhtag Gorgasali' s time. Thus, the mountain regions of West Georgia (first of all, Tusheti) were economically depended on the lowland and in this relationship the sheep breeding was the most essential.
Tushs (Tsova-Tushs among them) were using as winter pastures not only the populated area (Alvani valley, Lopoti and Pankisi gorges), but the western part of Kakheti – Shiraki valley as well. The fact that Shiraki valley belonged to Georgian mountaineers is evident from the XVII century inscription made on stone. The king Archil (1664 - 1674) assigns the territories between the rivers Alazani and Iori, together with the territory between Iori and Mtkvari (to the south). The latter, which was called “lower valley of Karaia”, also bore another name of “Jeiran Tushuri valley”. As the documents state, Tushs had built the Eldari fortress in Shiraki, in order to defend themselves against the attacks of Daghestan tribes migrated from mountains to West Kakheti (Saingilo). For usage winter pastures in Shiraqi, Tushs had to pay a sheep per gun shield.
Later, little by little, the usage of Shiraki valley as winter pastures by the Georgian mountaineers, became less intensive, because since the XVI century, the Georgian population in West Kakheti (Saingilo) was substituted with Daghestan population (Avars, Tsakhurs). In the first quarter of the XVI century, during the destroying invasions of the Shah of Iran Abas I, the part of the native Georgian population was annihilated, and another part was deported to Iran. Daghestans migrated from North Caucasus to West Kakheti, represented the danger to Tushs sheep on Shiraqi valley. The state which became weaker could not protect the shepherds from Daghestans attacks. In the XIX century, after Russia annexed Georgia recovered the tradition of using Shiraki winter pastures by the Georgian mountaineers (Tushs). Consequently, the development of sheep breeding in Tsova-Tushs (Batsbis) and other Georgian- speaking Tushs, became more intensive. In the XIX century, other Georgian mountaineers (Pshavs, Mtiuls) besides Tushs, also used Shiraki valley as the winter pastures for their sheep.
According to ethnographic data and folklore, Tushs attacks on Daghestan tribes living in Saingilo (in West Kakheti), were not rare. This is also vivid from the writings of the XVIII century historians. Moreover, according to the notes of historian Papuna Orbeliani, disturbed with Leks (Daghestans) attacks, Tushs, together with opposite side Kakhetians, attacked Daghestan villages in 1776. “They took sheep and horses away Lecks, and killed all chasers, and brought trophy to Kakheti” (Orbeliani, p. 243, 1981). Such campaigns took place against Lecks from Chari in the XVIII century in the King David’s III time (1703 - 1722).
Historically, West Kakhetian winter pastures were using one of the Daghestan tribes – Didos, who were directly adjoining to Tushs. By the way, Tushs from their side were also using the summer pastures of Didos.
Thus, in spite of hard and complicated political situation, in the XVIII century Tushs were nevertheless managing to pasture their sheep on Shiraqi valley in winter. They were protecting their herds with their own armed groups. Tsova- Tushs (Batsbis) migrated to Alvani, were getting military training. After ending the Daghestans attacks (since the XIX century), Tushs maintained the rule of military training in the demonstration form. We learn from the XIX century writer Rapiel Eristavi, that the show was called “Piracy”. The day before show, Tushs’ “Chief” was warning the young people to get prepared for chasing the “enemy”. The next day about fifteen young men under the direction of the “Chief” who knew all the paths and staying places of Leks, began the “raid” into forest. Stepping carefully, they were examining all the traces, trees, the marks on them (Leks were making marks on the trees in order to show the way for the rest). After these operations, the “Chief” and his troop were easily finding the enemy, attacking them and their fate was decided (Eristavi, p.144, 1855). Chasing Leks that was the everyday occurrence in the XVII – XVIII centuries, later shaped in ritual.
Historically, the several villages in Shida (Inner) Kakheti belonged to Tushs. In the end of the XVIII century, Ioane Bagrationi describing the villages Marilisi, Kachalauri, Matani, Kordi, and Saint Marina, writes “in old days they were called - Tush villages” (I. Bagrationi, p.69, 1986).
The reason of the Georgian mountaineers – Tushs, Pshavs, Khevsurs - participation in 1659 Kakheti rebellion, known as Bakhtrioni rebellion, was the fear of loosing the winter pastures. Tushs’ role was crucial in the rebellion against the Iran invaders organized by the Georgian feudal lords. This rebellion, in fact, saved the Georgian ethnos from dying-out in Kakheti. About Tushs’ active participation relates the Tush folklore, that mentions many heroes the selflessness of which decided the fate of the battle. The XVIII century historian monk Egnatashvili, from the mountaineers mentions only Tushs as the participants of the1659 rebellion. (Egnatashvili, p.209, 1940). According to folk poetry recorded in the XIX century, the heroes of Bakhtrioni rebellion were Zezva Gaprindauli and Meti Sagirishvili. The latter was the representative of Tsovata community of Tusheti (Shavkhelishvili, p. 157, 1977). In 1831 population census the descendants of this Meti Sagirishvili were recorded as the Metishvilis in Indurta village. As it turns out, now they bear the family name of Abashidze.
Being the members of the army of the Georgian Royal family, Tushs were permanently participating in wars against outer enemies, such as Muslim Iranians and Turks. In 1770 Aspindza battle a Tsova-Tush (Batsbi) Kadagadze distinguished himself. In the same battle, were killed 10 members from the Tsova-tush family of Bobghiashvili. This tradition (participation in wars) was not eliminated even in the XIX century.156 Tushs were taking part in the war against Turks near Choloki in 1854.
The relations between the mountaineers and lowlanders extended further. During Muslims invasions, the Georgian lowlanders often escaped to the mountains, and apparently to Tusheti.
The migration processes of the Georgian mountaineers to lowland were connected with farming types as well. Historically, the Georgian mountaineers (Pshavs, Khevsurs, Mtiuls, Gudamaqars, Mokheves) were permanently migrating to lowland. These migrations mostly were of individual character. In the XIX century these processes became more intensive and sometimes grouped. The facts of Tushs’ migrations in the Middle Ages are hardly observed in the direction of Georgian lowland. The population census of lowland and foothills of the first quarter of the XVIII century reveals more than one fact of migration from different historical-ethnographic regions of West Georgia. Only the three facts of population migration are given from Tushseti. The 1801 population census of Kakheti shows the same picture. It is evident that the existing farming type in Tushesti - half-nomadic sheep breeding was not promoting their migration to lowland and foothills. The sheep breeding provided Tushs with income enough for supporting their families. As for the mountaineers, who were busy with cultivating land and limited stock farming often moved to the lowland as the mountain could feed only the definite quantity of population. The surplus population always had to move to the lowland. Such migrations were not characteristic for Tushs. The developed sheep breeding did not connive at migration.
Tsova-Tushs (Batsbis) migrations to lowland began at the 30s of the XX century. First of all, it was caused by natural disasters. They did not move directly to lowland, at first. It took them 80-90 years for the final settlement in lowland, on Alvani valley. First, Tsova-Tushs (Batsbis) settled in transition zone between mountain and lowland, called Tbatana. In winter, they arranged the temporary dwellings in the territory, once the Georgian kings gave them in permanent possession, the foot of the mountain on the Alvani valley. The additional reason of this simultaneous, grouped Migration of Tsova-Tushs (Batsbis), was in enlarging the sheep breeding scopes. After the 1830 natural disaster, Tsova-Tushs (Batsbis) places of activity were the following three points: The beginning of gorge of the river Alazani - Tbatana, Alvani valley, where shepherds were temporarily stayed on the way to winter pastures (in Shiraki) in preliminary arranged temporary stock buildings and Shiraki valley. Here sheep was pastured. In 1897, Tsova-Tush (Batsbi) Ivane Bukurauli wrote: Tsova-Tushs (Batsbis) stay in Tbatana in summer. In the second half of June they move to Tbatana and stay there until August Then they again return to Alvani in winter. Tsovas live in felt huts in Tbatana. Recently, they began constructing the wooden and stone houses... Only women and children together with disabled men and the old people stay in Tbatana. The rest of men and the sheep are in mountains. Some of them are in Trialeti, some – in Leketi and others are in Tusheti mountains. They meet their family from time to time, and in the end of summer, as we mentioned above, move again their families to Alvani” (Bukurauli, p. 35, 1897). As it is, Tsova-Tushs (Batsbis) did not leave there dwelling place straight away. They spent summers in Tsovata. That’s why they were registered as the residents of the four villages of Tsovata since the 20s of the XX century. By ethnographic data and the works of the German scientists A. Ziserman and G. Ridde, in winter months Tsova-tushs (Batsbis) were leaving two-three families on duty in Tsovata. They were responsible for maintenance of the ancestral graves. Thus Tsovas were maintaining contacts with their native region (A. Ziserman, p. 237, 1873. G. Ridde, p. 314, 1891).
The migrated Tsova-Tushs (Batsbis), began to live in houses made of planks. They settled in Alvani valley according to the relation and territorial principle. The members of the same family name settled in the same districts. The residents of Etelta village settled down in Tsitsalqure district, Sagirtelians – in Pkhakalqure and Baichalqure, the residents of Indurta - in Otkhtvali, Tsaroans –in Alvani. After migration, each district built their own churches: The Mother of God’s - in Tsitsalqure, Saint George’s - in Pkhakalqure and Trinity’s - in Alvani. Iakhsari church is also mentioned in literature.
After migration to lowland, the Tsova-Tushs’ (Batsbis) way of life and farming type began to change gradually. Here, they became familiar to lowland agriculture style. All these, little by little caused changing the social relations, customs and habits, and spiritual culture. In fact, there is no difference between Tsova-Tushs (Batsbis) and lowlanders today. The only difference between them is that Tsovas are bilingual and still love their traditional occupation - sheep breeding.
It is true, that in the XIX century population census Tsova-tushs (Batsbis) are registered as the cattlemen, but while leaving in mountains they never ceased cultivating their lands. It is acknowledged that “there was typical mountain agriculture in Tsovata” (Itonishvili, p.449, 1976). Naturally, alike other mountaineers, Tsova-Tushs (Batsbis), because of lacking fruitful lands, were receiving insufficient harvest and were bringing in bread from lowland.
The development of stock-breeding was also limited in Tsovata. In spite of numerous pastures, during seven months in winter stock was fed in mangers. Thus, Tsova-Tushs (Batsbis), under mountain conditions, had the developed agriculture and stock-breeding. Bulls, in mountains, were mostly the draught animals. Tushs were plowing with the help of bulls and they were set in sledge as well. (Due to the mountain conditions there were not wheel transports there). As it was more than once mentioned above, sheep breeding was the main field of farming. Certainly, its scopes significantly increased in the XIX century. In the beginning of the XIX century, there were 72.420 sheep in Tusheti in total. By one of the 1845 documents, the quantity of sheep was 150.000 out of which 80% belonged to Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs). In the second half of the XIX century, some Tsova-tushs (Batsis) got permission to use the territories in present Turkey, near Qarsi as the summer pastures. The Bukuraulis possessed enormous quantity of sheep, more precisely – 12.000 sheep.
Over the centuries, the Tushs raised a rare breed of sheep. This sheep named “Tush sheep” was well known throughout Caucasus. It had delicious meat and high-quality wool. And what is more important, this sheep withstands the long journey, from summer pastures to winter pastures and vise versa. The principal direction of Tush sheep breeding was meat industry. At the same time, there was a great demand on Tush wool, which was generally used in handicraft industry. Of wool were made the carpets, curtains, socks, chitz (many-colored shoes knitted from thick thread of sheep wool), felt cloaks, felt hats - known in Kakheti as “Tush hat” (and in Kartli, as “Kakh hat”). As the scientists had stated, these hats were worn under the helmets. Tushs were the perfect knitters of saddle-bags (Bags with double sections thrown over a shoulder, the horses, or mules). The saddle -bags were used for putting in the products and different implements, and even the little babies. There were two types of such bags and were very convenient for nomadic way of life.
Sheep cheese made by Tushs, had an original, exclusive taste, which was called “Guda cheese”. Its fattiness makes 35.88%. In the XIX-XX centuries “Guda cheese” was well-known not only in Georgia, but throughout Caucasus. In the XIX century it was sold in many towns of Russia. Its fattiness and original taste was achieved with the folk technology that had been refining over the centuries. The cheese received the name “Guda cheese”, as Tushs placed the ready cheese in “Guda” (in a sack made of uncut skin of a sheep). According to ethnographic data, storing the cheese in such sacks was possible during the whole year.
Meat preserving was the most important part of Tsova-Tushs (Batsbis) sheep breeding. It was cut, stewed meat, called “Kaurma”. Tushs kept it in Guda, (skin sack) and took home. “Kaurma” could be stored for two months. Tsova-Tushs (Batsbis) also knew how to make perfect beer. Beer was generally made in the villages, in common boilers. The religious holidays of Tushs were unimaginable without beer.
Tushs migrated to lowland, as we had already mentioned, arranged their life according to local style. They were gardening and making wine. These fields of farming were not familiar to them while living in mountains. The necessary element of Tsova-Tushs (Batsbis) life was “Marani” (i.e. so called, wine house, located in a cellar, or special building for long storing of wine in special pitchers dug in the ground). The architecture of Current Tsova-Tush (Batsb) houses does not differ from the one of the local houses.
Arranging horse-races on the anniversary of a deceased were peculiar to Tsova- Tushs (Batsbs) and Tushs generally. Tushs were especially proud in case of winning in such races. The necessary attribute of Tushs’ traditional life was the songs generally and funeral songs, specifically. The researchers had proved that the Tush melodies, according to themes, are divided into heroic, funeral, lyrical and traveling melodies. In 1847 A Tush historian Iob Tsiskarishvili wrote to French historian Mari Brosse that Tsova-Tushs (Batsbis) do not perform their songs in their language, but now they sing them in Georgian”. The part and parcel of a shepherd was a wind instrument “salamuri” (a pipe).
The Tsova-Tushs (Batsbs) were willing to get education. In the XIX century many Tsova-tushs studied in the Russian Institutes. In the XIX century were especially distinguished Ivane Bukurauli and Ivane Tsiskarishvili, who published several articles on the life and traditions of the Tushs in periodicals of those times.
Such is the brief historical and ethnographic data about Tsova-Tushs (Batsbis), whom N. Mari called comically small (in number) population, and who managed to preserve their originality, language, culture and traditions to this very day. Their ethnographic life is similar to Georgian-speaking Tushs’ life and they consider themselves as organic part of the Georgian nation.
More than once we mentioned above, that Tsova-Tushs (Batsbis) are bilingual. But it could be said with certainty that not all Tsova-Tushs are bilingual today. It is also mentioned in the scientific literature that “the Tsova-tush language is disappearing in front of the civilized society” (Chrelashvili, p. 36, 2002). The mentioned author, in private talk, speaks about the natural dying of the Tsova- Tush (Batsbi) language. 25-30 years ago all Tsova-tushs knew the Tsova language and they all were bilingual. But, as it was mentioned, today it does not refer to all of them. According to locally provided inquiry, in the village Zemo (Upper) Alvani which is densely populated with Tushs, quite a lot of families do not speak the Tsova-Tush language at all. In this respect, there is a worse situation among children, the secondary school pupils. According to visual observation, even during breaks, almost not a single word was said in Tsova- Tush. The pupil of the 10th form of the secondary school Tatia Bartishvili told us: “I can understand the speech in Tsova-Tush, but not everything. I can not speak Tsova-Tush. I have never heard my friends speaking the Tsova-Tush during breaks. The pupil of the same 10th form Ketevan Bartishvili said: “My grandmother often speaks in Tsova-Tush to me, but I always answer in Georgian. I don’t know all the words and I can’t speak Tsova-Tush. Not a single girl in my class knows the Tsova-Tush language”.
Demolishing of bilingualizm among the Tsova-Tushs began a quarter of the century ago. In spite of compact residing in the same village, this process is going even faster now. According to historical data, the Tushs were bilingual over the last three centuries and this characteristic feature of the Tushs is disappearing rapidly and it is caused by a set of reasons. In this respect, the most important is the role of information medium, especially television. The fact that the Tsova-Tushs get education in Georgian is not of less importance (since the XIX century). The Georgian language is also native for them and there are no conditions under which they could be educated in Tsova-Tush. But still, among different factors, the conjugal factor is the most important.
In the scientific literature, especially in the Soviet Russian ethnographic science great attention was paid to the marriage facts of people of different languages. Russians were greatly interested in russification of the people living in the Russian empire to make them speak Russian. In the Soviet Russian ethnographic literature (I. Bromlei and others) it is emphasized that the problems rise in the languages of small groups when the percentage of their daughter-in-laws of different languages exceeds 15-20%. In this case, the language gradually faces the danger. In such families the children do not speak their fathers’ languages (especially when there do not live grandmother and grandfather in the family). The children start speaking their mothers’ language from the very beginning and speak it afterwards.
In this view, we got interested in the situation of the Tsova-Tushs at their compact dwelling place in the village Zemo (Upper) Alvani. In the local village board 398 married couples are officially registered. As it turned out, in the last 10-12 years, the considerable part of the married couples, because of different reasons (financial-economic conditions, moving registration center from village to the region center), are not registered officially. It appeared that, from the 398 couples only 226 are Tsova-Tushs. i.e. 226 Tush men’s wives are also Tsova- Tushs. That makes 56-57%. The rest men’s wives are aliens. The most of the latter are the women speaking Tush dialect of Georgian. There are also many women from the different villages of Kakheti region. Several Russian, Kist, Ossethian and Armenian women were also recorded. Thus, the percentage of those women in the Tsova families not speaking the Tsova-Tush language is 43, 22%.
According to ethnographic data was proved that until the 60-70s of the XX century, the most of the Tsova-Tush (Batsbis) men entered into marriage with Tsova-Tush women. Though, even then were not rare the facts of marrying women speaking Tush dialect of the Georgian language. (Many of them were also studying the Tsova-Tush language. By the way, the Tsova-Tush women married to Georgian-speaking men, often taught their language to their children) But it does not exceed the considerable limit. The above mentioned conjugal relations lasted until the time when the marriage matter was a competence of the parents. Since the parents do not interfere in marriage matters of their children and the young people decide their fate independently, the most Tsova-Tush men often find their partners in other villages. All this reasoned in the dying-out of the Tsova-Tush (Batsb) language. Only 25-30 years ago existing bilingual situation is disappearing and the most part of the population uses Georgian as the usual language. The fact is that, the most Tsova-Tushs (Batsbis) consider this event as quite normal and only some of them are very sorry for that, especially the old people.
It is also a remarkable fact that in disappearance of the Tsova-Tush (Batsb) language, the role of human factor should be eliminated. The indifference towards the above matter could be explained by their Georgian consciousness. They are the organic part of the Georgian nation and do not differ from other Georgians with their traditions, customs and habits and mentality.
The loss and disappearance of any language is always bad. We cannot give any recommendations either to the Tsova-Tush (Batsb) or the Georgian government. In our opinion, in primary classes it is possible to teach this language and to save it thus. But in this case, the problem of teachers, textbooks, literary texts will arise. The linguists’ duty is to make the study of the Tsova-Tush (Batsb) language more intensive. They must record as many samples of speech as possible by means of audio-video technique. This could be done by spending not only several days in Zemo Alvani, but working there for a whole year, or at least working there during a month in every season.
Unless stated otherwise or obviously not the case, all the text and images on this website are © A.J.T. Bainbridge 2006-2010
Do get in touch! Gmail: alexjtb