The Birthplace of “Narzan”
This is the birthplace of “Narzan” – a Circassian name for the drink of the gods (Narts), a natural mineral water, a glacier fed spring that takes six years to arrive at its source. This is a land rich in waterfalls, caves, rock formations suitable for climbing, gorges, canyons, rivers, alpine meadows, pine and fir forests. It was from here that “Scythian Gold” or otherwise know as “Kuban Gold” was mined from. UNESCO has also decreed that the Bolshoy Thach nature park a world heritage site which is part of the Maykop district. Interestingly enough the Republic of Adygea is completely engulfed by Kasondar Krai.
The Maykop Culture
Adygheya was also on part of the legendary route that helped make up the famous Medieval Silk Road. It was ancestors of Adyghe people formed the so called Maykop Culture, that is well-known in the world of archeology.
The Maykop culture is one of the most mysterious pages in the history of Abkhasians and Circassians. This culture encompassed an area that spanned from the Taman peninsula all the way to Ingushetia. The largest number of monuments that survived up to the present reside in the territory of modern day Republic of Adygea. The culture got its name from the monument of world’s significance – Maikop baron that was excavated by the archaeologist N.I.Veselovsky in 1897.
The Adygeans – Circassians
The Adygeans (the people’s own name for themselves is Adyge) are an ancient native people of the Northwest Caucasus, better known in historical annals as Circassians (also Cherkessians). An agricultural and cattle-breeding culture arose in the Northwest Caucasus in the early Bronze age.
Adygean cuisine is closely linked to the Circassian spiritual practice Uork Khabze, an authentic Caucasian tradition encompassing a set of yoga-like physical exercises and meditation. The Caucasian tradition of Uork Khabze is a form of spiritual teaching with thousands of years of history. It is currently in Adygea it is undergoing a revival of sorts.
Uork Khabze is translated as “a path for the chosen,” a form of instruction for the élite. In ancient times an invitation to the secret teachings had to be earned not only by belonging to the nobility, but also by display of courage, talent and beauty. Today, a variety of Uork Khabze practices are open to everyone. The modern Caucasus is mostly inhabited by Muslims, but not all locals have an understanding of Uork Khabze, which originated here before Islam reached these lands.
The food in this area is inseparable from this tradition and enhances its beneficial effects on health. The recipes for major dishes have been in place for thousands of years, along with the culture of growing and using ecologically safe ingredients, along with a moderate local diet and an active lifestyle, all of which contributes to the longevity and good health of the local populace.
World Famous Adygea Cheese
Adygean cheese is one of the most famous and recognized brands of the Republic of Adygea, where there are eight large and medium-sized cheese-making facilities, and more than 20 private entrepreneurs engaged in the production of this product. The Republic produces more than 6,000 tons of cheese annually, 50% of which – Circassian.
The “Festival of Circassian Cheese” has being held in the Capital of Adygea for seven straight in a row. Traditionally, manufacturers of Circassian cheese present unique ethnic tasting and purchase booths, where guests are treated to delicious cheese dishes, and are given demonstrations on how to prepare a variety of dishes based on Circassian cheese.
Circassian cheese has been known in the West Caucasus since ancient times. Traditionally, it was fermented by women, and each Circassian village had its own recognized masters of cheese-making.
Circassian cheese is exclusively made from fresh milk from cows/sheep/goats grazing in the foothills of the Caucasus. Experts attribute the softness of Circassian cheese to the method of preparation, whereby the milk is gently boiled with the gradual addition of fermented milk whey. The soft clots are then placed in specially-woven fine wicker baskets, giving the cheese its beautiful pattern, and only after that is the cheese salted.
The video here will give you a small taste of what this wonderful Republic of Adygea is really like. Enjoy.