Chechen art has antecedents of many centuries. It ascends to the Early Bronze Age. The bronze, silver and gold articles of the Maikop archaeological culture belong to the most memorable samples of that art, which reached its peak in the Koban archaeological culture. more »
Written Chechen literature emerged out of folklore, on the basis of its numerous and versatile genres, which had perfected its philosophical content, language, imagery and symbols over the millennia. more »
Chechen intellectual and artistic culture, just as other cultures of the world, originally rested on oral tradition. Practically all its genres and types—mythology, verbal art, the theatre, music and dancing—were born in folklore. Chechen folklore appeared in a specific ethnic cultural environment.
In the 3rd millennium B.C., the Caucasus was a crossroads of cultural influences of diverse civilisations as the region was straddling the shortest routes linking ancient land-tilling civilisations and the nomadic East European world. Chechen material culture, mythology, pagan worship and folklore retain features pointing at contacts with the earliest European, West Asian and Mediterranean civilisations.
These contacts are observed even more graphically with in-depth study of mediaeval Chechen mythology and pagan cults, which reveal numerous parallels with pagan deities and mythological heroes of the great ancient civilisations. more »
The Chechen ethical system arranges moral values in three levels, each of them determined by various aspects of the personality.
Adamallah, a system of moral values that includes universal norms the Chechen shares as Everyman, is connected the closest with Chechen religious and ethical convictions. It is inherent in all humans irrespective of ethnicity, religion, race and social status. As Chechens see it, that system is what tells man from animal. They counterpoise Adamallah as humanity to Akharallah, savagery.
Adamallah comprises the basic commandments of the Koran and the Bible, which man is bound to follow if he is not to degenerate into beast.
Nokhchallah is a system of moral values intrinsic to a Chechen due to his ethnicity. It tells him from people of other ethnic communities. more »
Rituality—which is pageantry of a kind—imbued the entire Chechen life. It was manifest in religious festivals, in wartime, at youth parties, and during music and dancing contests. It is no less characteristic of traditional Chechen etiquette. more »
Ancient religious cults, of which we can judge from the funeral implements of archaeological cultures, appeared in the Neolithic Era, when the funeral ritual reflecting Stone Age religious beliefs emerged in the North Caucasus.
Caucasian Eneolithic religious and mythological ideas (of the 4th-3rd millennia B.C.) were rather versatile. They mainly reflected economic activities of local tribes—land-tilling cults, dominated by the worship of the fertility goddess; the solar cult and the related fire cult; and, probably, the hearth cult.
Religions of Early Bronze tribes (the Maikop archaeological culture of the 4th-3rd millennia B.C.) included solar, heaven and animal cults, most probably borrowed from West Asia, alongside the earlier established mountain, river and forest worship. Fragments of clay figurines unearthed in archaeological complexes of the Maikop culture and having analogies in ancient West Asian cultures of the 3rd millennium B.C., to all appearances, relate to ancient land-tilling cults. The rich choice of funeral implements shows belief in the afterlife. more »
The National Museum of the Chechen Republic was established in 1924 as a regional museum of history and religion, with three departments—general and local history, and numismatics. It possessed 150 storage units on the opening day. In 1926, the museum made a major acquisition—a collection of Caucasian pistols, sabres and daggers. Paintings, pottery, china and weapons were donated from the State Museum Fund, and from Moscow and Leningrad collections and depositories. Franz Roubaud’s paintings The Seizure of Gunib and the Capture of Imam Shamil and The Death of General Sleptsov in the Gekha Forest were brought from Tbilisi alongside a collection of portraits of Russian generals who had taken part in the Caucasian War, and a number of engravings and lithographs. The Tretyakov Gallery donated Chechen artist Pyotr Zakharov’s self-portrait—a landmark acquisition from the point of Chechen history and art. more »
Music is one of the longest-established arts. It has been seen as the language of the human soul, feelings and passions since times immemorial.
Since its inception, music has been a divine gift to man. The magical power of healing is ascribed to it. According to beliefs of the Antiquity, music is present in Nature, in the harmonious accord of its parts. Music not merely pleases the ear with delightful tunes and expresses human feelings—it also transmits the elemental sounds and informs about what has happened. Thus, there is a Chechen tale of a despotic prince who says he will pour melted lead into the mouth that brings him the tidings of his beloved son’s death. A craftsman makes a musical instrument of three strings whose heart-rending tune tells the prince of the tragedy. This folk tale transmits the reverent public attitude to music and musical instruments. more »
Chechen folk crafts emerged several millennia ago. Several genetically interrelated archaeological cultures replaced each other in the area of original Nakh (Ancient Chechen) settlement in the North Caucasus from the 4th millennium B.C. through the Middle Ages.
Those cultures left ample archaeological materials testifying to an unprecedentedly high level of North Caucasian manufacture of arms, labour implements and pottery since the New Stone Age.
Excavations of Neolithic settlements in the various parts of the Caucasus revealed a wealth of Mesolithic flint tools—nuclei, scrubbers, chisels, and blades; geometrical tools—segments, trapezes, inserts with tips cut rectangularly with retouch, and faceted cuneiform axes; chippers processed on either side; and a rough Neolithic arrowhead. more »
Dancing is one of the oldest arts. The drawing of a sorcerer in deer dance appeared on the wall of the Lascaux Cave in France approximately 20,000 years ago. Dance was born of the magic ritual—just as the pantomime. The assumption that dancing was originally a syncretic unity with poetry and music is hardly plausible. Dancing existed even during the Upper Palaeolithic, long before verse and music, as archaeological data bear out. In times immemorial, dancing accompanied man from birth to death. The workday opened with a ritual dance. Primitive man imitated hunting in a dance preceding actual hunting to bring it luck. Land-tilling works also started with seasonal dancing, and later songs. more »