Asia. The first part being an accurate description of Persia, and the several provinces thereof : the vast empire of the Great Mogol, and other parts of India, and their several kingdoms and regions : with the denominations and descriptions of the cities, towns, and places of remark therein contain'd : the various customs, habits, religion, and languages of the inhabitants : their political governments, and way of commerce : also the plants and animals peculiar to each country
Ogilby, John, 1600-1676.

The Province of Circassia.

*THe ancient People Zyches, (or Zyges ac∣cording to Stephanus and Strabo) whom Pliny places in the Asiatick Sarmatia, a∣bout the Lake Meotis, are at this day (as George Interian and Scaliger affirm) call'd Cir∣cassi, or Circassians, but amongst themselves Adiga, and by the Poles, Pient-Zorsti, that is, Inhabitants of the five Mountains. Bronjof calls them Pythagore∣ans; Ananias, Pitorses; Ramusco, Comans, and their Countrey, Comania; but Comania comprehends Colchis or Mengrelia, Georgia, and Albania.

These Circassians are those which are call'd Ma∣melus or Mamelucks, and by the Turks in the time of the Soudans, Zerhars.

There are two remarkable Streams,* the one call'd Pisi, which falls into the Lake Calbane; the other Sil, glides by Cabarta. There are many other Rivulets of little note, because a Man may wade over them.

The Countrey of Circassia shews it self like a Semi-circle from the South-West to the North,* where a large Inlet is made by the Caspian Sea. It is separated from Tagestan by the River De Bustro. Others inhabit that part of Albania which in the East borders upon the Caspian Sea, on the South verges Mount Caucasus, in the North is bounded by the same Bustro and the Tartarian and Astracan Heath.

George Interian tells us, that Circassia extends from the River Don, formerly call'd Tanais, all along the Coast to the Cimmerian Bosphorus, now nam'd Vospeto, or The Mouth of St. John, and some∣times The Mouth of the Sea of the Zabachees; from thence stretching beyond this Bay along the Coast of the Black Sea, almost to the Cape of Bussi; on the South-East, to the River De Faso, or (accord∣ing to Baro of Heberstein) to the River Cupa or Coppa, formerly Rhombites, where on the North they border at Avogasia, and possess the whole Countrey from the River Cuya to that of Meruli.

Their whole Coast extends outwards about seventy five Leagues; but they possess above eight days Journey of the Lands lying into the Countrey, on that side where they approach the Tartars.

John de Luca makes them to border in the North, upon the Nagaian Tartars; in the East, to aspect the Cornuchi, who are also Tartars, though of another Religion and manner of Life; in the South, the Abcassians are their Neighbors; and in the West, high Mountains part them from Men∣grelia; and this is the largest extent of the Coun∣trey, from Taman to Derbend or Demircapi, a City lying on the Shore of the Caspian Sea, a Tract of twenty six days Journey.

This Countrey hath troublesom Ways to come to it, viz. on the one side the Caspian Sea, and on the other very high Mountains and deep Valleys: As the Muscovites relate, Alexander the Great could never get into it.

Between Taman and Tameruchi. is a narrow Tract of Land with many Villages, which are un∣der the Jurisdiction of the Tzar of Muscovy, and some Myrza's, or peculiar Lords of his Court, to whom he hath given them, in requital of some good Service done.

From the Mountain Varrada to Cudescio, which the Circassians possess along the Sea-Coast, is a Tract of seventy five Leagues; yet, notwithstand∣ing it is very fruitful, is wholly destitute of Inha∣bitants. They reckon thirty five Leagues from Cudescio to Abassia.

The People which dwell in these Mountains all themselves Christians, as also those which have their Habitations in the Woods and on the Plains, and are subject to peculiar Princes. The chiefest Places under their jurisdiction, and the distance thereof, are these From Tomaruchi to Carbarei, is eighteen days Journey, a populous Countrey, under the Jurisdiction of Schaban Ogoli. Two days Journey more from Tomaruchi to Giana, and as many from Giana to Codichoi. From Giana to Bolettekoi it is four days Journey; of which Countrey Gian Cosobey is Lord. From hence to Bezinada, eight days Journey more. From Bezinada to Carbatai, eight more. and from thence to Derbend, ten.

*The Princes Scaence and Temircas, Allies to the Cham of Tartary, are Masters of this Countrey, The Princes Casibei and Sancascobei, Brothers, Command all the Villages along the Sea-shore, which are all surrounded with Trees, complica∣ted together, to keep out the Tartarian Horse.

Olearius tells, that the Metropolis of the Cir∣cassians was formerly Terki; but the great Tzar of Muscovy, having subdu'd them, Garrison'd all their considerable Towns with Russians, forcing the Circassians to live in the Villages about them, or else in peculiar Towns on this side of the Ri∣ver, yet under the Jurisdiction of Myrza,* or Prin∣ces of their own, who are sworn Subjects to the Tzar, to whom they pay Tribute: And when any∣great Differences arise in the Law, they must be defended by the Russian Weiwodes.

The City Terki,* which was formerly the Me∣tropolis of the Circassians, is now under the Sub∣jection of the Grand Tzar, and being the last City of his Jurisdiction in those Parts, lies two Miles from the Shore of the Caspian Sea, near a little winding River call'd Tumenka or Tu∣menki, a Branch or Arm of the great Stream Bu∣stro: This is the onely access to the City from the Sea side, because the Shore there being a quarter of a Mile in breadth, is all morassie, and overgrown with Canes or Reeds. The City lies in 40 Degrees and twenty three Minutes Nor∣thern Latitude, sixty Leagues by Water, and six∣ty by Land from Astracan. It extends in length two thousand Geometrical Feet, and eight hun∣dred in breadth, and was formerly surrounded Page  100

[illustration] [diagram of fort]
the FORT.
with a woodden Wall, having Towers or Bul∣warks, fortifi'd with divers little and great Brass Guns. But afterwards, about the Year 1640. the, Tzar caus'd the City to be new built after the mo∣dem way of Architecture, and surrounded with Walls fifteen Foot high, and strengthned with a Bulwark of six Foot, as also with a Moat of eleven Foot broad, and one and a half deep, be∣sides casting up a Fort on the Land side.

The common Garrison is two thousand Men,* under the Command of a Weywode and Colonel: for in the City are three Pricases, or Chancellors, each having five hundred Strelitses under him; besides, the Turkish Prince Mussal hath five hun∣dred Men attending at his Court, who must joyn with the rest in cafe of necessity.

The Circassian Horses are more esteem'd of than the Tartarian, for their extraordinary swiftness.

John de Luca affirms, That there are no fairer People in the World than the Circassians; but we approve not thereof: for although the Men have well proportion'd Bodies, yet they are swar∣thy, and somewhat broad Fac'd; their Hair is long and black, which cutting off a Thumbs breadth from the Forehead to the Neck, they leave a small Lock on their Crown, which hangs down into their Neck. The Women are gene∣rally well shap'd, of a pleasant Countenance, and indifferently fair of Complexion; they let their Hair, which is also black, hang down intwo Braids over their Cheeks,* and go bare-fac'd. The Mens Clothes are like those of the Tagestan Tar∣tars, onely their Caps being broader, resemble those that the Jesuits wear; Their Cloaks, which are for the most part Sheep-skins, hang by a String over their Shoulders, on that side from whence the Weather comes, for they cover onely half the Body. Their Shirts being made of Cot∣ton, are Dy'd red. The Women wear black Hoods, Edg'd in stead of Lace with fine Cotton Cloth, which they tie under the Chin. The Widows wear behind on their Heads two great blown-up Bladders, cover'd with white Cotton, on each side one, which at a distance shews like three Heads. In the Summer they go onely in their Shifts, which are either colour'd red, green, yellow, or blew, and are open down to their Na∣vels; they likewise wear Amber Beads, painted Shells, Stones, Tin and Copper Plates, about their Necks, which hang down below their Breasts. The Women are very familiar, especi∣ally with Strangers, the Parents permitting their Daughters to be handled by any Person; and if Strangers be Lodg'd in their Houses, their Daugh∣ters in the Mornings visit them, arid entertain them with amorous Discourses; Virgins also go naked in the prefence of all Persons into the Ri∣vers to Bathe themselves.

Their chief Employment is keeping of Cattel and Husbandry.* Those of Terki, and others near the Caspian Sea, maintain themselves by Fishing; and some of them Trade with Slaves, Stags, Oxen, Tyger-skins, and Wax, which they plen∣tifully find in the Woods. The Women spend their time in embroidering of Linnen, and the like.

It is accounted ill breeding amongst the No∣bles, to have any knowledge in Arithmetick, or to drive any Trade, because a Nobleman (as they say) should never trouble himself with anything but to preserve and defend his People, Hunt, and be a good Warriour.

Their common Tongue agrees with the other Tartars,* but most of them speak also Russian, which is broken Sclavonian; but they have no peculiar Alphabet, so that when they have occa∣sion to write, they have recourse to the Jews, who write for them in Hebrew Characters.

Their Marriages are nothing else but recipro∣cal Promises, made by one to another in the pre∣sence of one single Witness, without any farther Ceremony.

*The Women being generally Deliver'd of their Children on Beds of Straw and Chaff made Page  101for that purpose, carry the Child to the next Ri∣ver, though full of Ice, and washing it, give it the Name of the next strange Person that comes into the House.

When a Noblemans Child comes to the age of three or four years, it is given to one of his Ser∣vants, to be brought up and instructed after their manner.

*They live for the most part upon Sturgeon and other Fish, though sometimes they eat both tame and wild beasts: Their Bread is principally of Barley, and the usual Drink of the common People is Water; but they make a Liquor of a sort of Grain which they call Boeza, or (as John de Luca saith) they mix their Water with Honey and Barley, which letting stand ten days to soak, they afterwards boyl, whereby it becomes pleasant to the taste, and as strong as Wine. In stead of Cups or Glasses, the Vulgar use the Horns of wild Buffalo's, or other Beasts; but the Nobles drink out of Golden Cups, worth from three to five hundred Ducats; some also are of Silver, out of which they drink with great deliberation and Ce∣remony, and commonly in the Name of God, and their Saints or deceased Friends.

They commonly sleep with a Coat of Mayl under their Heads in stead of a Pillow, and with their Arms by them. As soon as they rise they put on the foremention'd Coat of Mayl. The Men and Women lie together, but Head to Feet, yet on one Bed, which is commonly made of Leather, and fill'd with Rushes and Rose-Leaves.

John de Luca affirms, That the Houses are made of two rows of Poles stuck in the Ground, be∣tween which they lay plash'd Boughs, which they cover with Mortar and Straw; nor are the Prin∣ces Palaces built of better Materials, though bigger.

The Circassians often Engage with the Tartars, for there is not a year passes, but the Tartars, as well Mogaians as others, make Incursions into their Countrey, on purpose to get Slaves.

The continual Alarms in which their Enemies keep them,* hath made them the best Horsemen in all these Parts. They use Arrows, which they shoot forward and backward, and wear a Sword by their Sides, and a Helmet on their Heads, which covers their Faces; they also use Lances and Ja∣velins, all which they handle with extraordinary dexterity.

They never make any difficulty to rob one an∣other,* which makes Stealing common here, for they never punish those which are taken in the Fact; may, ancient People, and Persons of Qua∣lity never proffer any Drink at Meals to young Folks, if they have not committed some notable Robbery.

*The Circassians are of different Opinions, for some follow Mahumetanism, others the Greek Church, but the number of the Mahumetans is far the greater: for though the Priest who is at Derki Baptizes, yet he instructs them little in Matters of Religion; wherefore they daily turn Turks, and retain nothing of the Greeks, but the Custom of carrying Meat to the Graves of the Dead, and to keep some Fasts.

In the Countrey of Cudosci, or Holy Places, are abundance of Rams Heads, which be Relicks of the Curbans or Offerings made there. On the Trees also hang Bowes, Arrows, and Swords, which are sighs of the Promises they made to the Deceased, and therefore are so revereric'd, that the greatest Robbers will not touch them.

The Circassians incline much to Paganism; and though they suffer themselves to be Circumcis'd, and Believe in God, yet they have neither Scri∣pture, Priest, nor Temple, but at some set-times make their own Offerings, especiallyon Elias's day.

*Upon the Decease of a Nobleman, both Men and Women coming into the Field, kill a Goat at for an Offering, and hanging his Skin Upon a Pole, having first made Merry with the Flesh, some Men stepping forth, Pray to the Skin one after another; which done, they all depart home. The Skin remains on the Pole till such time as they take it down to make room for another. Af∣ter this they raise a great Bed of Earth in the Fields, on which they lay the Corps, having first been imbowel'd; and for the space of eight days, his nearest Relations, Friends, and Vassals, come to visit him, and bring him Presents of Silver Cups, Bowes, Arrows, and other things; then they take a great Tree, hollowing the Body into the form of a Chest, into which they put the Corps with the foremention'd Presents, and so carry it in great State to the Burying-place.

Some of these Circassians (as Soranzo affirms) are free, others pay Tribute to the Precopenses or Crim Tartars; but as others assert, they neither acknowledge the Turks nor Tartars, but are Go∣vern'd by five prime Heads.

George Interian attests,* that there are Nobles, Subjects, and Slaves amongst them; the Nobles being the chiefest, have many Vassals under them, whom they Govern by an arbitrary Power, allowing none to be above them but God; nei∣ther have they any Judges, nor any written Laws, but make use of their own Authority in deciding of Differences. Some affirm that they Serve the Turk, Persian, and Muscovites for Pay.

They have no Money in this Countrey, espe∣cially in those Places lying up into the Land,* but value all things by Bokissins, which are pieces of Linnen or Woollen Cloth.

They Fight on Horseback, Arm'd with Bowes, Arrows, Swords, and Lances. There are no Fotts in all the Countrey, but onely a few old Towers, to which the People repair in time of War. They Fight daily against the Tartars, who inclose them in all parts, but are so much va∣lianter, that a few Circassians are able to put a con∣siderable number of Tartars to flight, because they are much nimbler, stronger, and generally better Arm'd.