- Project Runeberg -  Through the Caucasus to the Volga /
139

(1931) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Gerald C. Wheeler - Tema: Russia
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139
VII
SHAMYL
Shamyl, perhaps one of the most remarkable figures
of the century, was born in 1797 at Ghimri in
Avaria, on the Avarian Koisu near where it meets
the Andian Koisu. His nåme was Ali, but later he
was called Shamyl (that is, Samuel). 1 He was, to
an extraordinary degree, a born leader of men, and
richly endowed by nature. Physically, he was fairly
tall, slender, and with a proud bearing. His eyes
were blue or gray, his hair and beard blond with a
touch of brown, his face fairly long and narrow
with regular features, and an earnest, thoughtful,
and calm expression. In a simple and dignified garb
with a belt round his waist, and usually without
any of the glowing colours affected by his Murids
or any gold and silver, his figure always made a
deep impression on his people, and his movements
were careful and dignified. He excelled at sports,
and was first in fencing, running, jumping, and all
kinds of gymnastic exercises. It was said of him that
he could leap a ditch 27 feet wide (?), and could
jump higher than his own height. As a young man
he went bare-legged and bare-breasted in all kinds
of weather, and stood out even among the Dagh
estan mountaineers for his dåring and powers of
endurance.
He was gifted with a sharp understanding,
1 The proper pronunciation is Shamwil (i long, and the w with a
slight u sound). As Shamyl is the form generally used it is kept here.

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