A Letter from Sukhum, Abkhazia | Fairhope Courier, 12 March 1936

Fairhope Courier, 12 March 1936

“Abkhazia, although a part of the Soviet Union, is not Russian, and the people still cling to many of their age-old customs. Abkhazian history interests me greatly...”

“In native costume, they are striking and picturesque. On the street I frequently meet men wearing leng coat coarse wool with skirts flowing to the ankles, sometimes even sweeping the ground.”

"Abkhazians are fine horsemen, and ride their horses as though born in the saddle, their long capes of back fur, wide and square at the shoulders, sweep far back across the horses' haunches, envelopinig them in an air of grand magnificence."

"In Sukhum, we see many different nationalities- all intensely interesting in face, dress and conduct. Besides those belonging to nations of the USSR, there are Greeks and Germans in considerable numbers. The Armenian type of beauty attracts me especially. A beautiful young Armenian girl comes for our laundry. But their beauty, I am old fades early."

The full letter in PDF can be downloaded by clicking here (501 KB)

AW's note: In August 1936, Sukhum was renamed Sukhumi, and the campaign for the Georgianization of Abkhazian place names commenced. Between 1948 and 1952, more than 147 localities were renamed in Abkhazia. In July 1946, signboards with Abkhazian inscriptions disappeared, and the Union of Writers of Abkhazia was renamed the Abkhazian Branch of the Union of Writers of Georgia. Newspapers and magazines in Abkhazian were closed down, and broadcasting in Abkhazian ceased. Simultaneously, the Abkhazian State Ensemble was renamed to the “State Ensemble of Georgian Folk Singers and Dancers”. From the early 1940s, the very term “Abkhazian people” was attacked. The Abkhazians’ timid attempts to protest against this policy were treated by the authorities as the intrigues of “bourgeois nationalists” and were brutally persecuted. See:  The Stalin-Beria Terror in Abkhazia, 1936-1953, by Stephen D. Shenfield




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