Cultural Adaptation of Cossacks Among the Circassian People.
For a long period of time, the Cossacks absorbed new features into their culture side by side with the Caucasus Peoples. In particular, mutual influence is evident in the field of women’s interests, as well as in their lives.
Over a period of time there was change of business obligations and Cossack became influenced by agricultural and pastoral traditions of the Circassians. For example, growing crops - becoming influenced by the Highlanders in the Kuban, using corn to grow beans and peas. This, in turn, changed the traditional cuisine of the Cossacks. Women began to cook squash eggs, hominy, hot sauces. They also began to make cheese and ferment which were bought or bartered with Adyghe People. Cossacks adopted the tradition of gardening as Circassians had grown excellent varieties of apples, pears, grapes, which have been adapted to the local natural and climatic conditions. In mountain villages appeared breeds of animals (horses, unpretentious coarse wool sheep, etc.). At the same time, some Circassian tribes, passing a lasting sedentary lifestyle, began to grow imported wheat, barley, oats, etc. Many Caucasians plows and scythes were bought by the Cossacks. At the beginning of the XIX century, Cossacks began to shift to a sedentary lifestyle, adopted from the Nogai. This adaptation also included borrowing Circassians type of dwelling and outbuildings. Under the influence of Cossack culture and traditional in cuisine, highlanders were beginning to use sunflower oil, sauerkraut, beets; Caucasus woman even learned to cook soup.
Together with the emergence of the Russian-mountain Exchange Courtyard (the first exchange-yard established in Ekaterinodar in 1794) entered various Circassian products or handicrafts. The need for the exchange of both sides was so great, often trade went beyond the designated areas. So, in 1827 it has was known "corresponding of the illegal sale of salt, iron, and gunpowder to the Kuban Cossacks of the residents of Trans-Kuban area". Korolenko already said, "in the early years of the arrival of Cossacks of the Kuban, Circassians supplied them with bread, cattle, forest and other objects of local production, even weapons were allowed to be traded, in return the Circassians received salt which was limited in amount at the time". Great demand among the Cossacks from the Circassians was animal skins and carcasses of wild boars and pigs and one of the important products to Cossack women, woven webs. In turn, the Highlanders brought madder root (a natural dye) and a piece of bush zheltinnika (tanning) to the Stanitsas for exchange. Trade relations periodically stopped under the influence of military events on the lines, but as a whole it was characterized by the growth of interest on both sides in expanding trade. In addition, it was helped to maintain peaceful relations with a part of mountaineers.
Closer acquaintance with the highland culture expanded the Cossack views of the Caucasian peoples, their traditions and worldview. However, changes emerged when Circassian villages became captured by Cossacks. These children not only grew in the Cossack environment but were raised by Cossack families. Growing up, they had families of their own here in the villages, bringing the most common blood in the gene pool to be shared among Cossacks. Ilskaya Sekleteya Moiseevna Kiyko married and grew up in a Stanitsa. She had seven children. According to one of the residents, she was raised by a Circassian girl who later married a Kuban Cossack.
On certain occasions, Kuban Cossacks would capture Circassian women to be their brides and their children were then raised Cossack. This once again added to the diversity of genes to the Cossacks.
There are cases where in villages after years of captivity Cossack children who have been raised as Circassian returned. At a point in time, in the mountains, at very young age, their perceptions of highland mentality resembled Muslim beliefs. Quite often many did not know their language, but found relative Cossacks remaining in highland villages which added flavor to the traditional Cossack culture. Re-education of the Cossack children, were first engaged with their adoptive mother. In 1840 Cossack Anna Shevchenko recognized certain features on a man who ran through the mountains to be her child taken from her almost 17 years earlier.
New features in the cultural life of the Cossacks and Circassians, emerged from voluntarily changes, or through the circumstances of marriage.
From the 17th Century, Don People, were getting their wives from the land of Circassia, and the difference of the people became noted in the appearance of their children over time. However, interethnic marriages are common to Cossacks because of their location, as well as the unending wars fought in the regions. For example, in 1622, Patriarch Filaret pointed out in his letter, to the Archbishop Kyprianou, that many of the Siberian Cossacks had Tatar, Ostyak, vogulitskimi wives, and some live with unbaptized children. By the beginning of the 18th century Cossacks of the Ural had wives with Tatar, Kalmyk, Kazakhs and even Persian backgrounds.
Most have moved closer to the Caucasus tribes to the Greben and Terek Cossacks. As a result, long-term (mainly peaceful) neighbors married Cossack women and had a lot of local highland origin, especially Chechen women, Kabardinok, Nogaek and as noted "Cossacks soon entered the friendships and even family ties with the mountaineers ... from which took its furnishing grain bread, cattle, horses, and even wives”
Until the 18th century, special obstacles for mixed marriages existed, and the Cossacks quickly adopted the customs of the Caucasus; steal a bride, or receive them as wives by contract with the bride's parents, which included the required payment of dowry. But as the dowry was often expensive for an ordinary Cossack (according to Pallas, at the end of the 18th century) the most common way to obtain a bride nevertheless became widespread in the Caucasus (for the same reasons) "kidnapping" or abduction of women.
In the Kuban as well as that of the Terek Cossacks, marriage could be the cause of the captivity or an agreement with her parents (with the payment of a decent dowry). Many researchers say that the main cause of this type of marriage was lack of marriageable women in the Kuban Cossack villages. "... the Circassians and the Black Sea Fleet were not averse to go for the Russians and Cossacks, yet the Cossacks dreamed of getting married on the Circassian princesses.” After leveling the demographic situation (which coincided with the end of hostilities in the North Caucasus) marriages with Caucasian women in the Cossack environment have become a rarity.
According to the facts of the informant from Art-tzu convenient Gamiev Andrew told the following story; 'During the Caucasian War, his great-grandfather (the Cossack Art-tzu convenient Prokopenko by name) married a Circassian who was left alone with her two children after leaving the Highlanders. One child had ,for an unknown reason left the family name behind, and the second, Michael, apparently, continued to Prokopenko name.
In turn, the Cossacks sometimes became wives of Caucasian mountaineers, however, mainly by kidnapping, not the traditional Cossack matchmaking. Over the years, they adapted to the mountain customs and language and gave birth to children. "Cossack Aksinya, emerged from captivity. Apparently, she was kidnapped as a little girl and for 30-35 years lived in highland environment, almost forgotten their native language. Even with the opportunity to return back home after all these years, she choose not to return to her native village.
Thus, the relationship with the Caucasus mountaineers and the Cossacks during the period does not always have to be in the character of a military confrontation - there were many forms of peaceful cooperation, and changing cultures on both sides. In many of these processes women were involved- and Gorjanki and Cossacks. Effects of different ethnic culture intertwined with their economic activities, changing the composition of their families and their ideas about the world, contributed to interethnic understanding.