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Kubachi: Preserving ancient crafts in Russia’s North Caucasus

A small mountain settlement in Dagestan still lives on craftsmanship that has existed for many centuries. Russian photographer Yevgeny Kurskov visited the region in May and took pictures of the people who keep its traditions alive.
By Anastasiya Karagodina, RBTH
Kubachi
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Yevgeny Kurskov

Since Russia is so vast, few get to know about the daily lives of people in the most remote locations of the country.
Kubachi

Yevgeny Kurskov

One such isolated place is the settlement of Kubachi in Russia’s North Caucasus – a territory that has faced its share of political rivalries and military clashes.
Kubachi

Yevgeny Kurskov

A part of Russia’s internal republic of Dagestan, Kubachi is the only settlement located in the mountainous part of the republic, standing at 1,750 meters above sea level.
Kubachi

Yevgeny Kurskov

According to Russia’s federal statistics, in 2016 only 3,034 people lived there.
Kubachi

Yevgeny Kurskov

First mentioned in Persian chronicles in the 4th century, Kubachi used to be one of the largest centers of traditional wood, metal, and stonework.
Kubachi

Yevgeny Kurskov

In the 7th century weapons, chain armor, jewelry and other objects made by artisans from Kubachi were in demand in Transcaucasia and the Middle East.
Kubachi

Yevgeny Kurskov

This mountain settlement still lives on traditional crafts. Although crafts provide the main source of income for many families, revenues are not high.
Kubachi

Yevgeny Kurskov

Many people combine craftwork with another job in the settlement. For instance, a gas station employee may take his crafts to the job and work on them when there is free time.
Kubachi

Yevgeny Kurskov

The goods produced by Kubachi craftsmen are popular across Dagestan and neighboring regions.
Kubachi

Yevgeny Kurskov

There are also online shops offering table silver, souvenirs, jewelry, weapons, and watches – all made in Kubachi.
Kubachi

Yevgeny Kurskov

The aesthetics and traditions of the Kubachi craftsmen persist because members of the younger generation are not eager to leave the village.
Kubachi

Yevgeny Kurskov

The youth readily learn from their parents and relatives. They consider going to bigger cities only for higher education, with the majority returning to Kubachi after graduation.
Kubachi

Yevgeny Kurskov

Usually the women in Kubachi are not involved in heavy craftwork, but their lives are not just confined to traditional housekeeping duties. For instance, they can combine their daily activities with knitting woolen socks with traditional patterns.
Kubachi

Yevgeny Kurskov

The local Kubachi language is part of the Dargwa group (Northeast Caucasian family), but is quite different from the dialects and languages spoken in neighboring villages, making it hard for neighbors to understand each other. Being a part of Dagestan, the most multiethnic internal republic of Russia, the Kubachi people also speak Russian.
Kubachi

Yevgeny Kurskov

After a difficult period in the history of the North Caucasus, local residents now largely support the Russian ruling elite. Across Dagestan people support Moscow because they are afraid of changes and the possibility of another war breaking out.
Kubachi

Yevgeny Kurskov

In 2016, 88.9 percent of voters in Dagestan supported the United Russia party during the State Duma (lower house of parliament) elections. This is one of the highest percentages recorded in the Russian regions.

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