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The Natukhai Tribal Flag

The Natukhai (Adyghe: НатIхъуадж-адыгэ, translit. Naţḩwadź-adygè, with the possible sense нэ-тхуэ-джэ eye-white-with, 'With Light Eye(s)', the /-a-/s in the name being phonologically predictable) are one of the twelve main Adyghe tribes. Their areas historically extended along the Black Sea coast from Anapa in the north to Tsemes Bay (now Novorossiysk) in the south and from the north side of the mountains to the lower Kuban River.

The Natukhai tribe consisted of 10 aristocratic families and 44 free clans (Adyghe: ЛъфэкъулӀ) and classified as an Adyghe democratic tribe.[1][2] Because their coast was not backed by high mountains and opened northward to the steppe the Natukhai were very active in trading with the Ottoman Empire and Crimean Khanate, which afforded for them better life than many others.

By culture, language and character they find themselves closest to the Lesser Shapsug and even call themselves by the same name Aguchips. (The Lesser Shapsug lived on the coast south of the Natukhai while the Greater Shapsug lived north of the mountains.) Also Natukhai people include the tribe of Goaie which, according to legend, is one of the most ancient Circassian tribes. They also include the disappearing remnants of the Zhaney tribe, the noblest families included Chakh, Dedy, Eryku, Kaz, Megu, Syupako, and Zan. The tribe Goaie had following noble names: Birdzh, Cherch, Kerzedzh, Khatirame, and Kuytsuk.

The Natukhai, like the Shapsug and Abadzekh, managed to limit the power of noble men of their tribe, their villages were also administered by elected villagers. The Natukhai were one of the tribes most inclined to a peaceful sort of labor, they established trade connections with Turkey which gave the Natukhai the opportunities of material improvements. The Natukhai were one of the last to convert to Islam, they steadily adhered to Christianity, even though religious differences were often the cause of quarrels with the neighbouring Shapsug. Only by the beginning of the 19th century, whether by promises or by threats, did Turkish pasha manage to talk them into converting to Islam; in spite of that, the Natukhai showed a bitter resistance to the expansion of Russia into the Northern Caucasus. They fought shoulder-to-shoulder with the Shapsug and Abadzekh who by that time were on their own against the forces of Russian empire, as a result of the war, only 175 Natukhai people remained on their motherland.

In late 1860, a Circassian Parliament (Adyghe: Хасэ, translit. Hasè) was assembled, which would unite the Shapsug, Ubykh, and Natukhai and considered Sochi (Lowland Adyghe: Шъачэ; Ubykh Adyghe: Шуа-чӀа, lit. "seaside") the last capital of the Circassian resistance.

In 1864, a major part of the Natukhai were massacred and the remaining forced to leave Circassia, like the other Adyghe tribes, to the Ottoman Empire due to the Russian army occupation of Circassia,[3] beside the standard tsars' policy during the era of the Russian Empire to cleanse the Circassian coast of Circassians (mainly physically then by expelling the remaining to the Ottoman Empire.[4]

Currently, Natukhai families live in the diaspora and were assimilated in other Adyghe tribes, more precisely, the Shapsug due to their close relations with them; in Russia, a few may be found in the Republic of Adyghea (mainly in the Takhtamukaysky District in the village of Natukhai (Russian: Аул Натухай)[5] and the Teuchezhsky District).


The Natukhai people speak the Natukhai sub-dialect (Adyghe: НатIхъуаджэбзэ), a dialect which is very similar to the Shapsug sub-dialect, the Natukhai sub-dialect shares a large number of features with other Shapsug varieties like having the consonants гь [ɡʲ], кь [], кӏь [kʲʼ] and чъу [t͡ɕʷ] that correspond to дж [d͡ʒ], ч [t͡ʃ], кӏ [t͡ʃʼ] and цу [t͡sʷ] in other Adyghe sub-dialects (e.g. Abzakh, Bzhedug, and Temirgoy).[6][7][8][9]

Meaning Natukhai and Shapsug sub-dialect Other sub-dialects
Cyrillic IPA Cyrillic IPA
shirt гьанэ ɡʲaːna джанэ d͡ʒaːna
chicken кьэт kʲat чэты t͡ʃatə
rope кӏьапсэ kʲʼaːpsa кӏапсэ t͡ʃʼaːpsa
shoe чъуакъэ t͡ʃʷaːqa цуакъэ t͡sʷaːqa


  1. ^ Walter Richmond [1], The Northwest Caucasus: Past, Present, Future, p. 22, Central Asian Studies Series, 2008 ISBN 978-0-415-77615-8
  2. ^ Walter Richmond, "The Northwest Caucasus: Past, Present, Future", Arabic Translation by Jameel Ishaqat, p. 46, Circassians Studies Centre, Amman, Jordan, 2010.
  3. ^ via the Voice of Russia
  4. ^ Peter Hopkirk The great game: On Secret Service in High Asia, Chapter 12 “The Greatest Fortress in the World”, pp. 158–159, Oxford University Press, 2001 ISBN 0-19-280232-1
  5. ^ Official Website of Takhtamukaysky District (Russian Language)
  6. ^ Спирантизация аффрикат Archived 2015-07-13 at the Wayback Machine. (in Russian)
  7. ^ Палатализация (смягчение) и аффрикатизация согласных Archived 2015-07-13 at the Wayback Machine. (in Russian)
  8. ^ Переднеязычные мягкие шипящие аффрикаты дж, ч, к1 Archived 2015-07-13 at the Wayback Machine. (in Russian)
  9. ^ Наращение сонорных согласных (in Russian)

See also[edit]

Other Adyghe tribes: