Woman wearing festive attire. The village of Gelmets. Samur Okrug. Dagestan Oblast. 1900–1920s. Lezgins (Tsakhurs)

The inhabitants of the village of Gelmets call themselves Tsakhurs. However, all early 20th century photographs from the Tsakhur villages of Gelmets and Kurdul are inventoried as Lezginian in the collection of the Russian Museum of Ethnography. Only a few carry an added Tsakhur ethnonym.

Referred to as “lezginka” is a vast variety of local dance versions: practically every village used to develop steps and tunes of its own.

Girls dancing lezginka. The village of Gelmets. Samur Okrug. Dagestan Oblast. 1900–1920s. Lezgins (Tsakhurs)

Gelmets stretches picturesquely along a narrow mountain ridge.

The village of Kurdul. Samur Okrug. Dagestan Oblast. 1900–1920s. Lezgins (Tsakhurs)

The village of Gelmets. Tsakhurs

The village of Gelmets. Tsakhurs In the Soviet time, a wave of female emancipation brought forth a tendency for shorter skirts, even in mountain villages. In the 1990s, Islamic Resurrection demanded longer skirts.

The village of Gelmets. Tsakhurs

In the late 19th and early 20th century, Tsakhur women’s underwear consisted of a short chemise and pair of long narrow pants. On top of them, women wore a wide long skirt, pleated or gathered at the waist, as well as a small kaftan fitting at the waist and an apron. Young married women wore the most jewellery. On festive occasions, a woman (never a girl nor an elderly woman) put on a wide leather belt with a massive silver buckle that more often than not made up a third or half of the belt’s length. Sewn on the leather part of the belt were coins and convex buttons as well as pendants dangling from chains. The headgear consisted of a baggy chukhta tuli, or, in some localities, of a bonnet-like dugmache cap made of silver tubes and chains worn underneath a shawl or a square kerchief.

Women in festive attire. The village of Gelmets. Samur Okrug. Dagestan Oblast. 1900–1920s. Lezgins (Tsakhurs)

The village of Gelmets. Tsakhurs

After washing, rugs, both hand-woven and factory-made, are dried in the open.

People from the village of Kurdul. Dagestan Oblast. 1900–1920s. Lezgins (Tsakhurs)

Men’s traditional costume of the Lezginian peoples was generally not unlike the clothes of their neighbours. The photograph shows the main items of menswear: an undertunic beshmet shirt, a Chokha jacket with a cartridge belt sewn on to it, and a papakha sheepskin hat. Indispensable was a dagger worn on a leather belt ornamented with metal plaques. It was a symbol of honour and dignity; appearing in public without it was unthinkable.

Today’s mountain dwellers are rather particular about their appearance. The highlander male fashion is little different from that generally accepted in Russia.

Today’s mountain dwellers are rather particular about their appearance. The highlander male fashion is little different from that generally accepted in Russia.

People from the village of Kurdul. Dagestan Oblast. 1900–1920s. Lezgins (Tsakhurs)

Men’s traditional costume of the Lezginian peoples was generally not unlike the clothes of their neighbours. The photograph shows the main items of menswear: an undertunic beshmet shirt, a Chokha jacket with a cartridge belt sewn on to it, and a papakha sheepskin hat. Indispensable was a dagger worn on a leather belt ornamented with metal plaques. It was a symbol of honour and dignity; appearing in public without it was unthinkable.

Dried beef and mutton is a Dagestanian specialty. In the cool mountain air, meet is dried better than in the valley. In making traditional highland sausage casings are filled with minced meat mixed with anzur mountain onions and caraway seeds. When dried, both meat and sausage can last for a very long time; they have to be boiled prior to serving.

The village of Gelmets. Tsakhurs

Living room. Gelmets.
Lezginka dance. The village of Gelmets. Samur Okrug. Dagestan Oblast. 1900–1920s. Lezgins (Tsakhurs)