Dagestan or Tagestan.
*THe Countrey of Dagestan (as Ptolomy, Dio∣nysius the Alexandrian, and Strabo write) was a part of the Province of Albania, comprehended between Iberia and the Caspian Sea; though Cluverius and Golnitius would have Albania, lying betwixt Iberia and the Caspian Sea, to be the Eastern part of Georgia. Some joyn this Countrey to Persia, as a part thereof; notwithstanding Pto∣lomy hath separated them. Others affirm, that Dagestan was formerly call'd Susiana; and Golnitius, that it was old Susiana, and now Elaran; but Olea∣rius avers, that it is Chusistan. It lies divided from Cincassia by the River Bustro, and Southward a quarter of a League from Derbend, by a small Brook from*Persia, and extends Northerly with Mountains along the Caspian Sea to the City Terki. Tagestan signifies A Mountainous Countrey: for Tagh in the Countrey and Turkish Language is a Mountain, and Stan in the Persian a Countrey: Moreover, the Inhabitants call themselves Tage∣stan Tartars, that is, Highland, or Mountain Tartars; but the Persians name them Lesgi, for they dwell between the Mountains twenty and thirty Leagues Westward from the Caspian Sea.
Tagestan is divided into several Lordiships,*viz. Osmin, by others Ismin, Boinack, &c. each having a chief Town of the same Denomination, in which the Governor hath his Residence. Olearius is of opinion, that a part of this Countrey was anciently possess'd by the Amazones, which (as Curtius af∣firms) dwelt betwixt the Caspian Sea and Mount Caucasus.
*The Metropolis of Tagestan, call'd Saru, lies partly upon, and partly between the Mountains, which are Rocky, and at a distance appear as if they were cover'd with Mussle-shells, for there is scarce any piece, to the bigness of a Mans Hand, but what hath five or more Shells sticking upon it. The Stones of the Rock are as hard as a Pebble. Beyond these craggy Mountains are good Pastures for Cattel. Behind Tarcu lies the Castle Suchur. In the City, which hath no Walls, are about a thousand Houses, built after the Persian manner, though somewhat sleighter. Out of the Rocks spring several Brooks, which with a pleasant mur∣muring noise glide down the Mountains through the City.
The Tagestans of Tarcu, and those of Boinack, that dwell towards the North, are call'd Caitack. Westward beyond Tarcu is another sort nam'd Cu∣muck and Casucumuck, who are under the Jurisdi∣ction of peculiar Lords. The Tarcuan Tartars are not less in number than those of the Province of Boinack. The Prince of Tarcu, styl'd Surchow Chan, boasted himself to be Extracted from the Family of the Kings of Persia, with whom he always held an amicable Alliance, and when the Tagestans made War upon each other, he receiv'd Aid from Persia.
The Natives maintain themselves by breeding of Cattel, which the Women take care of, whil'st their Husbands Ride abroad to steal whatever comes to hand, not sparing Men, Women, or Chil∣dren; for they account it no Sin to sell their nearest Relations, Brothers or Sisters, to the Turks. Those that dwell near the Rivers live by Fishing, espe∣cially by catching of Sturgeon, which they take with strong Harping-Irons, and the Pole to which the Line is fastned fix'd in the Ground.
The Diet of the Grandees or Chans, is com∣monly Mutton cut into small Slices,* and roasted on a woodden Spit; as also Sturgeon cut in little Pieces, which being boyl'd with Salt, they eat it with Butter and Vinegar. They use no Knives, but pull their Meat in pieces with their Fingers. When any one of them lays down a Bone, he that sits next to him taking it up, picks it much cleaner, and sometimes it is taken up by three or four after the same manner. Their Drinking-Cups are long Cows Horns, out of which they Drink a Liquor made of Barley, and call'd Brega, which in colour is like Mead. They are very boisterous in their Cups. They spread their Tables on the Ground after the Persian manner. All their Vessels consist in woodden Bowls and Troughs.
*The Inhabitants are of an Olivaster Com∣plexion, strong Limb'd, and hard Favour'd, with long black Hair. The Men go Cloth'd in long Coats made of ordinary Cloth, over which they wear a Cloak of Furr: On their Heads they wear black Cloth Caps: Their Shoes are made of Sheep or Horse-skins, cut out of a whole Piece, and sow'd together on the top of the Foot, and upon one side. They go commonly Arm'd with a Partizan, Shield, and Helmet, and sometimes Bowes, Arrows, and Slings. Both Virgins and Page 40
The Tartars of Tarcu are wild and valiant, but the Women are very courteous; they are all Ma∣humetans, and suffer themselves to be Circumcis'd yet are great Zealots, and some of the Tartar Wo∣men are privately inclin'd to the Christian Reli∣gion.
The Inhabitants of the Village Andre have amongst other Nuptial Ceremonies these follow∣ing, viz. Every Guest brings an Arrow with him, which he shoots either into the upper part of the Wall, or the Roof of the House, where they stick till they rot or fall down of themselves: what the signification hereof is none knows. They are a valiant and undaunted People, caring neither for the King of Persia nor the Great Duke of Muscovia, but boast themselves Tagestans, and consequently subject to none but God: which their audaciousness depends chiefly on the inac∣cessible Mountains, whither they retire when any stronger Enemy falls into their Countrey. The Merchants that travel through their Dominions are forc'd to pay great Customs, and yet if they are not strong enough to defend themselves, are sure to be Robb'd; and therefore they always go with the Caravans in great Companies.
This Countrey is under the Subjection of seve∣ral Princes,* by one general Name call'd Myrsa; but many Cities are Govern'd by a peculiar Lord; yet they have a supream Commander nam'd Schemchi, and by others Schafcal, who is as a King, and chosen by the throwing of an Apple, viz. at the Election all the Myrsa's or Princes meet together, and standing in a Ring, their Priest throws a Gilded Apple amongst them, and who∣ever he hits therewith is immediately chosen Schemchal, who though he hath great Honor and Respect, yet he finds but litte Faith and Obedi∣ence from them, and therefore cannot be said to Govern with arbitrary Power: He keeps his Court in a Village nam'd Andre, situate on a Hill near the River Coisu: His Habit is a Silk Coat of green Darai, and over it a black Furr Mantle: and when he Rides out he is commonly Arm'd with a Scimiter, Bowe and Arrows.
Beyond Tarcu lies a wild and brambly Coun∣trey.
Five Leagues from Tarcu lies the Stream Coisu, which abounding with Fish, takes its original from Mount Caucasus, and runs very swift, the Water muddy, of a reasonable breadth, and ge∣nerally eighteen or twenty Foot deep, which Ole∣arius supposes to be the Albanus of the Ancients, which (according to Pliny) falls into the River Cassia. In this Water breeds abundance of Stur∣geon, and another sort of Fish not much unlike it.
Two Leagues and a half from Coisu runs a Brook nam'd Acsai, which is not above twenty five Yards broad. Some take this Acsai to be onely a Branch of Coisu, which unites with the same again not far from the Caspian Sea. If any Stran∣gers are desirous to Ferry over this River with their Goods, they are forc'd either to pay a great Sum of Money to the Inhabitants, or else they take away their Goods.
Beyond Acsai is a barren Heath seven Leagues long,* half a days Journey beyond which runs the River Bustro, which is also one of the chiefest, and almost as deep as the Coisu; the Water thereof is muddy, but runs not so swift as the foremention'd; it serves for a Boundary between Circassia and Ta∣gestan: Northward about two Leagues from the Caspian Shore it divides it self into two Branches, one of which (now call'd Temenki, but formerly, and by some to this day, Terk) is about thirty Yards broad, and hath given the City by which it glides, the Denomination of Terki, which is the last Town in those Parts under the Czar of Musco∣vy; the other, beyond this, and of the same big∣ness, bears the Name of Kisilar, because it carries along in its Sand a kind of Gold-dust; and lying somewhat higher than the former, is Page 41commonly dry'd up in the Summer: The place of its disemboguing is about eight Leagues beyond the City Terki.
All these Brooks come Out betwixt the North and the West, and the Kisilar is the last in these Parts; but fifty six Leagues farther is the Volga, which springs in the North. Olearius (according to Ptolomy) will have the Acsai to be the Caesius, the Bustro to be the Gerras, the Timeki or Terk to be the Alonia, and the Kisilar to be the Adonta: for between the River Albanus or Coisu and the Volga or Rha, no other Rivers are to be found.