candidate of history, author of about 50 works on history ofAbazin and Abkhaz peoples.
Term «Abaza» ascends to remote
 antiquity. It was scientically proved in 40th years of our century. One of the researchers of Abazin language A.N. Genko wrote apropos of this: «Term «Abadze» or «Abaza» has a very ancient origin and possesses a collective meaning: so representatives of Circassian tribes called all Abkhaz tribes (including Ubykhs) united by community of language and culture which lived to the South from Circassians mainly in mountain valleys adjacent to the Black Sea coast. On the base of this Circassian the term «Abaza» in XVIII century Russian the term «Abazin» appeared.
The term «Abaza» turns up in ancient authors` works. For the first time it was used by ancient Greek author Arrian (II century A.D.). He mentioned a people Abazgs or Abasgs who, according to him, lived in Nothern-Western Abkhazia. Prokopy of Kesaria (VI century) mentioned Abazgs and located them in Nothern-Western Abkhazia as well.
P. Buktov, referring to notes of Konstantin Bagryanorodny writes about the Caucasus that «...In Kasakhia in the times of Bagryanorodny a part of Abazin people which spoke language different from the rest Caucasus languages. They removed here in V and VI centuries from Abazinia situated along the Black Sea coast between river Engury and gulf Bovudyaka...»
Modern specialists researching Genoa“s colonies in the Western Caucasus in early Middle Ages, referring to certain sources, note that in 1154 city Matrakhi on Taman peninsula in the mouth of Kuban belonged to Abazin princes Olou Fbbas famous by their force and courage. To our mind it is obvious that name «Olou Fbbas» is etymologically connected with clan of Abazin princes Lou. The term «Abaza» in the form «Abez» is known in Russian chronicles though some scientists apropos of «Obezes» of Russian chronicles try to give the desired for the real and bring their conclusions for this matter to an absurd. A research of this question by L.I. Lavrov presents itself as more competent and convincing. He indicates that the term «Obezes» in chronicles relates to Abazins who lived near Taman and Crimea.
Italian traveller of XIII century Plano Carpini who visited in 1246 Tatars among peoples vanquished by them mentiones Obeseses and Soboal. Perhaps, Obeseses are Abazes and Soboal - one of the local groups of Abaza since in the sources Abazes are often mentioned under names of local groups. There is an opinion that Soboal were Abazes. Name «Soboal» in the form «Siba» turns up in one of the sources of XIV century. «Siba - the source says - is a name of settlement Cuboy near river Asipse in the distance of 30 versts from a place on the left bank of Kuban which is situated in the distance of 30 versts from Ekaterinodar...» Another Italian, Iosif Barbaro, who went to Tana reports the following: «In 1436 I took a jorney to Tana to which I devoted 16 years of my life observing all lands adjacent to it... Going from Tana along the coast of Sea of Azov I came in three days to the land called Kremukh. It is governed by ruler Biberdi. His estate consists of some several settlements which can set out 2000 riders. They are surrounded by forests and fertile valleys irrigated by many rivers. People have beautiful horses and are characterized by courage and slyness. Beyond Kremukh various peoples dwell within a week way distance from each other: Kipiks, Tatakozes, Sobays, Keverteys and As or Alans...» From the report of I. Barbaro we see that he mentions one of the local groups of Abazins called «Biberdi». Up to recently one Abazin settlement was called Bibarkt (now Elburgan). In the notes to Barbaro`s jorney it is indicated that «...Sobays are, perhaps, those whom Plano Carpini mentions among vanquished by Tatars peoples Soboals or Abazes». It is supported by information contained in another source (XVIII century) where among Abazin communities Kizilbek, Tam, Shigray, Brakoy and Bashilby Sabay is mentioned. Thence there is no doubt that name of people Soboal of Plano Carpini (XVIII century), village Suboy situated on river Asipsi (XIV century) and Abazin community Sabay are related with each other etymologically.
The term «Abaza» is mentioned by Persian author Nizam ad-Din Shami in connection with Tatar-Mongol invasion of the Nothern Caucasus in 1395-1396. «Timur passed over mountain Elburuz and camped in a place called Abasa». However, location of Abasa N.G. Volkova considered vague - on Nothern or Southern slope of the ridge. L.I. Lavrov states that Timur`s campaign to Abazins` lands was performed from the side of the Nothern Caucasus what is quite probable.
In medieval Georgian chronicle the term «Abaza» is mentioned. So, in the notes «Kartlis Tskhovreba» we read: «Abaza... are divided into five tribes... They live partly on the coast, partly in the Northern Caucasus at the heads of rivers flowing into Kuban and between Kuban, Kuma and Malka».
In the first half of XV century one of the sources fixes the term «Abaza» in the Nothern Caucasus. E.N. Kusheva notes about it: «Small Nogay roamed along left bank of Kuban near mountains between Besleney and Abaza».
L.I. Lavrov referring to one of the documents indicates that among ambassadors sent from Moscow to Poland there were «Abeslin princes» from the peoples of the Caucasus. In the word «Abeslins» L.I. Lavrov sees a base «baz» (Old Russian «obez») and believes it to be «Abaza».
Author of «Notes about Moscow affairs» Austrian baron S. Gerberstein (the first half of XVI century) informs: «If one turns from the East to the South he will meet near swamps of Meotida and Pont and river Kuban a people whose name is Afgazes...» These «Afgazes» are certainly Abazins who lived near the head of Kuban.
In the historical work «Description of the Black Sea and Tataria» (1634) its author d`Ascoli several times uses the term «Abaza». «From Tataria, Circassia and Mingrelia - he writes - many slaves are delivered to Constantinopol... Merchants of the Black Sea become rich at the two principal moorings. One of them is Abbasa, city in Circassia». Later on he notes: «...around the Black Sea people speak eight languages: Greek, Turkish, Tatar, Circassian, Abbasan, Mingrel, Armenian... Though Tatar resembles Turkish and Abbasan resembles Circassian, however, different tribes speak their native languages and don`t understand each other».
Turkish traveller of XVII century Evlia Chelebi who visited the Caucases in his work several times uses the word «Abaza».
An Italian A. Lamberti who was a missionary in Mingrelia in 1635-1653 in his work «Description of Kolkhida called now Mingrelia» mentiones Abasks or Abazgs according to the tradition of ancient Greek authors. Another Italian author C. Glavani in his «Description of Circassia of 1729» uses the term «Abaza». He writes the following: «Circassia is situated beyond river Kuban and spreads till the Caucasus mountains. It is contiguous from one side with Kalmyks, from other with the Caspian Sea where fortress Terk is situated which belongs to Muscovites, then with Abaza adjacent to Caucasus mountains and spreads till the Black Sea coast. District is called Beskesek-Abaza. Its inhabitants removed from Abaza... According to their language and origin they are Abazes». According to N.G. Volkova district Beskesek-Abaza is situated within limits of the Nothern Caucasus and region Abaza - on the Southern slopes of the Caucasus ridge.
It should be noted that in the sources of XVIII century the term «Abaza» is mentioned rather often. Sometimes it is used for denomination of not only Abazins but also some ethnic groups. In one of the historical documents of P. Butkov it is noted: «The third, main generation of trans-Kuban peoples are Abazins and Abazekhs. The latter live along the banks of rivers Shelkuch, Spag and Abazines - from Abin and along the Black Sea coast till Imeretia...»
In another document of P. Butkov we read: «Abazins who live near Imeretia and not far from Turkish towns in Anatolia have their own princes...»
According to the testimony of M. Medici: «Abazes dwell from Sukhum till Anapa».
In the middle of XVIII century and later often use of the term «Abaza» in sources is observed within the Nothern Caucasus for denomination of the group - Tapanta. N.G. Volkova believes that: «More seldom in the sources of XVIII centuries the term «Abaza» has collective meaning» (she set two examples as a proof). «Peisonel writes that Abaza are peoples dwelling between Circassians and Georgians divided as Circassians into many tribes.
However, the same author uses the term «Abaza» and in the narrow ethnic sense when he calls so Abazins-Tapanta. On a Western European map of Tataria of 1730 all population of the coast from Gelendjik till Mingrelia is called Abaza and mountains` inhabitants - Djiks. Therefore, in this example Abaza includes Adygs, Abazines and Abkhazes» - notes N.G. Volkova.
It should be noted that sometimes term «Abaza» is identified with the name «Abkhazes». «Abkhazia and Abaza - one historical document says - is contiguous from the South along river Inguri with Mingrelia, from the North-East of the Caucasus with various mountaineer peoples, from the North - with Circassians and Djiks, from the West and the South-West - with the Black Sea. In this connection a note of L.Y. Lulie deserves attention who believes that Abazia and Abkhazia are names of the same country: the first is Circassian name, the second - Georgian. Note of L.Y. Lulie corresponds to reality because it is supported by numerous facts. So, for example, in the notes of medieval Georgian source we read: «Abazes call themselves Abzne, Georgians call them Abkhazes and Circassians - Kush-ga-zin-Abassi that is trans-mountain Abassi or Abazes who live beyond mountain Elbrus.
Russian authors called Abkhazes in the end of XVIII - XIX centuries Abazes. Evidently, they adopted the term «Abaza» from Adygs. So, general Tekeli in his notes calls mountaineers of the Western Caucasus Abazins. E. Kovalenko noted that «we, as Circassians, call Abkhazes Abazes and Georgians call them Afkhazeti...»
N. Dubrovsky calls population of the location Kelasauri in Abkhazia Abaza and one of the documents calls Abkhaz proprietor Keleshbey Abazin proprietor. One of the sources of the end of XVII century says: «Abkhazes call themselves Abazes and their land - Abaza. Georgians call them Afkhazets. Abkhazia is a part of Kuban including parts that belong to Russia which spreads from mountains till the Black Sea coast. It is contiguous in the East with Svans, in the South - with Georgians in the West with the Black Sea and in the North - with Circassians...»
It should be noted that there were cases when term «Abaza» in sources was used for denomination of Abazins. For example, K. Glavani wrote that «In the end of the past century Abkhaz tribe in Circassia was divided already into not five but six parts. So it was called Alty-Kesek («alty» in Turkish is «six») and by Russians - «Small Abaza». I. Debu also calls Abazins Abkhazes who lived to the North from the Caucasus mountains in the upper reaches of rivers Kuban and Laba. On one of the maps (beginning of XIX century) within limits of the Nothern Caucasus where Abazins-Tapanta dwellt the following names are designated: Altekezek, Klichkit, Abkhazes.
S. Bronevsky didn“t make special difference between terms «Abaza» and «Abkhaz». He believed that ancient name «Abazgs» related to Abkhazes or Abazes. G.P. Serdyuchenko noted that «in the end of XVIII and in XIX centuries in historical and memoirs literature and also in official Russian documents, in particular in military correspondence for the Caucasus, the term «Abazines» was equal to the term «Abkhazes»...»
The term «Abaza» sometimes was used in relation to some Adyg ethnic divisions. So, for example, L.Y. Lyulie who in XIX century during 5 years studied Adyg language wrote: «...Kabardians and other Adyg tribes - Abadzekhs, Shapsugs and Natukhays are called by common name «Abadze-chil» that is «Abazin peoples» and according to him only Kabardians, Besleneys, Temirgoys, Khatukays and Khegayks were considered as Adygs. Bjedugs, Makhoshevs and Zhaneevs are sometimes called «Abadze».
Territorial content of the term «Abaza» in XIX century on the Black Sea coast according to the sources was the following: from river Ingur till river Bzyb; from river Bzyb till Sochi; from Gelendjik gulf till river Ingur; from Gagra till Anapa. «Abazes belong to peoples dwelling between Circassia and Georgia»; Abazes dwell higher than «Svans and Mingrels, to the West from the Caucasus, partly along the Black Sea coast where a lot of piers are situated..., partly near head of Kuban», from Sukhum till Anapa. Therefore, the above-stated data allow to infer the following conclusions.
1. The term «Abaza» has more than millennial history. It was mentioned in the ancient and medieval sources in different forms - «Abazg», «Abbaz», «Obez», «Obeseses», «Abasa», «Abaza», «Abeslins», «Afgazes», «Abkhazes», «Abbaza», «Abazins», «Abazes», etc. It is used for designation of the modern Abazins who call themselves Abaza.
2. The term «Abaza» ascends to the ancient tribal name «Abazgs» which with the time, being in the beginning a narrow territorial denomination (conventionally from river Bzyb till Sukhum district of the modern Abkhazia) acquires wide territorial content - from river Ingur on the Black Sea`s Norhtern-Eastern coast till the head of river Kuban in the North-West; partly mountain regions of the Northern-Western Caucasus; Nothern slopes of the Caucasus ridge in the basin of rivers Kuban and Belaya.
3. Name «Abaza» («Abazgs») during centuries applied to closely related peoples which had common language and culture and has remained up to our days.
4. Within limits of the Nothern Caucasus on the territory of the modern Karachai-Circassia the first information about the term «Abaza» ascends to XIII century. Therefore, Abazin people was then known under its own name.
5. Relation between the terms «Abaza», «Abkhazia» and «Abkhazes» indicates to ethnical and cultural community of these terms` bearers in the historical past.
Picture.  Abazin girl from aul Biberdovskoe. XIX century.  
Author - E. Zichi.
Abazin girls from a noble family from aul Biberdovskoe, XIX century, 
picture by E. Zichi