A group of girls from the village of Budug. Quba Uyezd. Baku Guberniya. 1880s. Budugs

The Khynalyks (self-definition ketsh khalkh) are livestock-breeders, as were their ancestors. There are vast summer pastures near their village. Those villagers who have a limited number of sheep keep them in sheds during winter. Those who have 500 and more heads of livestock have their life style determined by transhumance rhythms. As summer sets in, they drive their livestock to mountain pastures; as winter sets in, they drive their livestock to the plains 120 or 130 kilometres away from Khynalyk. The women are the first to get going, then follow the men driving their flocks, while the children mostly stay at home, looked after by their grandparents.

The dwellers of Khynalyk keep fat-tailed sheep. The sheep have now been driven into the fold so that they could be branded and given a remedy for parasites.

A group of girls from the village of Khinalug (Khynalyk). Quba Uyezd. Baku Guberniya. 1880s. Khynalyks

A group of boys from the village of Khinalug (Khynalyk). Quba Uyezd. Baku Guberniya. 1880s. Khynalyks

“The settlement, with a typical terraciform arrangement of the houses, is located on a mountain slope, with the roof of the house at the lower level serving as a courtyard for the house one level up. The settlement pattern is congested, with the houses placed almost wall to wall and having no household plots. In terms of their structure and size, the houses are of necessity adapted to the terrain. Many houses following the configuration of the terrain can have two levels on one side and one level on the other.”

E.G. Torchinskaya. Account of a Journey to the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. 1971. Archive of the Russian Museum of Ethnography. F. 2. Op. 1. D. 1704. L. 13 (in Russian)

The openings in the roof are covered with polyethylene film for protection from the rain. The village of Khynalyk “The centrally located space in an old house is given to a large blind room with a single murok (Khyn.) smoke outlet in the ceiling, which also serves as a roof window. In recent memory there used to be a fireplace beneath it that served for both cooking and heating…”

E.G. Torchinskaya. An Account of the Journey to the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. 1971. Archive of the Russian Museum of Ethnography. F. 2. Op. 1. D. 1704. L. 14 (in Russian)

“The lower level normally houses a tovle cattle shed and a larder; the upper level mainly houses living quarters.”

E.G. Torchinskaya. An Account of the Journey to the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. 1971. Archive of the Russian Museum of Ethnography. F. 2. Op. 1. D. 1704. L. 14 (in Russian)

The village of Khynalyk

A new school has recently been built in the village. Tuition is in Azerbaijani. Khynalyk is taught as mother tongue and English as a foreign language.

The Kryzes, together with their Khynalyk, Djek, Budug and a number of other neighbours, belong to the group known as Shahdag peoples. The ethnonyms of these small communities derive from the names of their villages. Today many scholars regard the Djeks and Budugs as local Kryz communities. Unlike Khynalyk, which is classed as a separate branch of the Nakh-Dagestanian languages, the languages of most Shahdag peoples belong to the Lezgic group of the same language family.

A Khynalyk and a Lezgin

Dwellers of the village of Khanalug (Khynalyk). Quba Uyezd. Baku Guberniya. 1880s. Khynalyks

Handed down from generation to generation are not only material objects, language, folklore, and ritual practices, but also so-called body techniques, i.e. postures, gestures, and motions. In Khynalyk, for one, women still carry heavy items on their heads.

The village of Khynalyk. Khynalyks

Dwellers of the village of Khinalug (Khynalyk). Quba Uyezd. Baku Guberniya. 1880s. Khynalyks

The village of Khynalyk. Khynalyks

A remote mountain village, Khynalyk is listed among Azerbaijan’s places of interest designated for ecotourism. With this in mind, the local inhabitants have set up a museum, knit socks for souvenirs, work as guides in the mountains, rent out lodgings and offer horses for horseback riding.

Of Khynalyk’s three mosques, the main one has a flat roof and is built of the same kind of stones as most of the houses. It is distinguished by wood-carved pillars and its location on the village’s topmost site. The mosque has recently been renovated. Most of the worshippers are elderly people.

The village of Djek inhabited by Djeks, yet another small Lezgic-speaking community. Quba District

Sheepherder moving to a winter pasture, his belongings carried by packhorses.