Lonely shepherds of Dagestan

The Republic of Dagestan is a federal subject (a republic) of Russia, located in the North Caucasus region. Its capital and the largest city is Makhachkala.
The Republic of Dagestan is one of the most attractive, picturesque and original regions of Russia. From the very beginning its rich flora and fauna lured countless travelers and inspired artists, poets and writers.
People in Dagestan preserve and nurture their unique cultures comprised of ancient traditions, folk arts and crafts, ethnolinguistic features. The greatest treasure of Dagestan are the people living there, all hospitable and hearty as seen only in the Caucasian Mountains.
Some areas were dedicated to the production of swords and daggers (sashka and kinjhal) while others focused on firearms and the decoration of both previous types, but all would bear characteristics unique to Dagestan.
Animal husbandry makes up about 65 percent of all agricultural activities in Dagestan. Though only 15 percent of the land is cultivable. Sheep, in particular, are kept in large numbers.
Sheep breeding remains the main focus, especially for mountain residents for whom herding has been the main source of income for generations.
The Highland Dagestan has unique climate characteristics. Micro-climate of the Gunib Highland, the richest flora of all three plateaus, the Alps and sub Alps mountain landscapes make the rest for the tourists here very favorable.
In the mountainous regions, the economy was dominated by the raising of sheep and goats, and also some horses, cattles, mules. The apiculture is also well developped.  Meat and milk products were major components of the Lak (Laks are an indigenous people of Dagestan) diet, although they also grew barley, peas, wheat and some potatoes.
Dagestan’s biggest challenge today is identical for whole of the North Caucasus — implementing the modernization process where the task of preservation is being replaced by the task of development.
It is the strategic task that should take priority (besides the anti-terrorism measures). Even the most brilliantly executed annihilation of militants cannot offset the fact that Dagestan lacks the mechanisms to allow worthy people from poor families to get a good education and a position in government or business.
Dagestan differs by the richest arts and crafts. The earliest monuments go back to epoch of bronze. The known centres of applied art are Kubachi (the jewels decorated by engraving, enamel), Gotsatl (copper stamping, jewels), Balkhar (ceramics with painting), Untsukul (wooden products with silver notch, nacre). The centres of carpet manufacture in southern Dagestan are known from ancient times.
Daghestani custom is shown, in particular, with regard to respecting one's elders. In accordance with the adat (law), younger siblings do not get married before their elders.
The Kizlyar Factory, which opened in 1885, is the oldest cognac production plant in Russia. At that time, professional wine-maker David Saradzhev merged several distilleries located not far from the city of Kizlyar, then introducing classic French technology into his production of cognac. It is a product of centuries-old history, caring hands of experts, guaranteed quality, the pride and honor.
Today Kizlyar cognac distillery has processed a bit more than 2 thousand tons of grapes. In total this year the enterprise intends to purchase not less than 12 thousand tons of grapes. The factory is the official supplier of the Kremlin.
Usually Caucasian weddings last for a few days - it depends on the finacial situation and social status of the families of both the bride and the groom.
Customs and traditions in Dagestan are preserved to a greater extent in rural areas. For example, nikah. Nikah is an Islamic ceremony of marriage, it is an essential part of Muslim marriage.
Russian suzerainty was not officially established over Dagestan until 1877, although contact had been made as early as the 15th century.

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