- Project Runeberg -  Through the Caucasus to the Volga /
106

(1931) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Gerald C. Wheeler - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH THE CAUCASUS TO THE VOLGA
106
They were also skilled in the use of arms and
excellent shots.
Wc must still say a few words about the Kumyks
living in the coast-land north and south of Petrovsk
and in the most easterly of the mountains inland.
They are not to be confused with the Kasimukhians
or Lakians, who are a mountain tribe in south
east Daghestan. They speak a Turkish tongue very
near akin with that ofthe Nogaians, their neighbours
on the north, and may be in part descendants of the
Khazars.
These last make their appearance early in history,
and already wc find Firdusi using Khazar as a
nåme for the foes of Persia on the north. The home
of the Khazars was perhaps the north-eastern and
eastern offshoots of the Caucasus, and a district
along the Caspian, which latter was called Bahr
el-Khazar ( = the Khazar Sea) by the Arab geo
graphers of the Middle Ages. Their early capital
was Semender, known later as Tarku (near the
Makhach Kala of to-day) ; it was moved thence to
Itil at the mouth of the Volga in the 7th century,
after the Mohammedan invasion of Caucasia. It is
uncertain who the Khazars were racially, but much
seems to point to Ugrian and Turkish connections.
For a while they were under Hun dominion (after
a.d. 448) and for a while under the Turks (about
a.d. 580). That Ugrian people, the Hungarians,
were a tribe in their land. The Khazars had a
light skin and black hair, and were marked out by
a rare beauty of face and form ; the women were
much sought after as wives both in Byzantium

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