The Bats people (Georgian: ბაცი) or the Batsbi (ბაცბი) are Nakh-speaking Tushetians in the country of Georgia. They are also known as the Ts’ova-Tush (წოვათუშები) after the Ts’ova Gorge in the historic Georgian mountain region of Tusheti. The group should not be confused with the neighbouring Kists – also a Nakh-speaking people, migrants from Chechnya – who live in the nearby Pankisi Gorge.
A late nineteenth-century photograph of a Batsbur wedding in the village of Zemo Alvani (eastern Georgia). The identity of the photographer is unknown, as is the date and the names of those depicted.
|Regions with significant populations|
|Tusheti (Georgia), Kakheti (Georgia)|
|Christian (Georgian Orthodox)|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Other Nakh peoples: Chechens, Ingushs, and Kists, other Northeast Caucasian peoples|
Other Georgians — specifically the Tushetians, Georgians of Kakheti
Part of the community still retains its own Bats language, "batsbur mott", which has adopted many Georgian loan-words and grammatical rules and is mutually unintelligible with the two other Nakh languages, Chechen and Ingush. As Prof. Joanna Nichols put it, '[the Batsbur] language is related to Chechen and Ingush roughly as Czech is related to Russian [and the Batsbi] not belong to vai naakh nor their language to vai mott, though any speaker of Chechen or Ingush can immediately tell that the language is closely related and can understand some phrases of it. The Batsbi have not traditionally followed Vainakh customs or law, and they consider themselves Georgians.' Batsbur language is unwritten and the Batsbi have used Georgian as a language of literacy and trade for centuries.
The renowned Georgian ethnographer Sergi Makalatia wrote in his study of Tusheti that "the Tsova-Tush speak their own language, which is related to Ingush and Kist. This language has, however, borrowed many words from Georgian; the Tsova-Tush speak it both at home and among each other. Everybody knows the Tsova language. It is shameful not to speak it. Children start speaking Tsova-Tush and learn Georgian later."
Nowadays, all Batsbi speak Georgian (usually with a Tushetian or Kakhetian accent). Only a handful speak Batsbur with any kind of proficiency.
The Batsbi have retained very little of their separate cultural traits, and their customs and traditions now resemble those of other Eastern Georgian mountaineers, particularly those of the Tush (obviously, but there are also deeper pagan-religious links between the Tush and the neighbouring Khevsur).
The origins of the Bats are not so clear, and there are various theories. As the Estonian scholar Ants Viires points out in his Red Book, it is actually two separate disputes: the first being whether it was Nakh tribes or Old Georgians that inhabited Tusheti first, the second being from which (or both) the Bats are descended.
Some scholars, such as Caucasus linguist Johanna Nichols, argue that the Batsbi crossed the Greater Caucasus range from Ingushetia in the seventeenth century and eventually settled in Tusheti, and that they are therefore a tribe of Ingush origin which was Christianized and "Georgianized" over the centuries.
Others hold that they are descended from ancient Nakh tribes inhabiting the region. Caucasus historian Amjad Jaimoukha argues that there was once a larger ethnic group in Kakheti called the "Kakh" in Old Georgian, who he believes called themselves "Kabatsa" and were "Tushians of Nakh extraction". Jaimoukha notes that according to an 18th-century Georgian historian named Vakhushti, the Kakh considered other confirmed Nakh peoples as their kin.
Another theory is that the Georgian name (Tsova-Tush) may be linked to the Tsov, who were claimed by the Georgian historian Melikishvilli to have been Nakh and ruled over the Kingdom of Sophene in Urartu (called Tsobena in Georgian) who were apparently forcefully moved to the region around Erebuni, a region linked by some to Nakh peoples by place names and various historiography.
Ants Viires also notes that there are theories involving the Bats being descended from Old Georgian tribes who adopted a Nakh language. According to this theory, the Batsbi are held to have originated from Georgian pagan tribes who fled the Christianization being implemented by the Georgian monarchy. A couple of these tribes are thought to have adopted a Nakh language as a result of contact with Nakh peoples.
The Batsbi's villages in the Ts'ova Gorge (Tsovata) were Ts'aro, Shavts'qala, Nazarta, Nadirta, Mozarta, Indurta, Sagirta and Etelta. Each was inhabited by one or several extended families who believed they shared a common ancestor. In the early nineteenth century, following the destruction of two of their villages by landslides and an outbreak of the plague, the Batsbi abandoned their eight villages in the Ts'ova Gorge in western Tusheti and began to migrate down to the lowlands on the left bank of the Alazani river in western Kakheti.
A significant proportion of the village's women work in Europe and in America, sending money home to the village. Many men still work as shepherds or cowherds, most of them wintering the animals in the Shiraki lowlands (south-eastern Georgia, on the border with neighbouring Azerbaijan) and then taking them up to summer pastures in Tusheti (a two- to three-week journey).
According to a study written and published by Prof. Roland Topshishvili as part of the University of Frankfurt's ECLING project, the Batsbi only lived in temporary dwellings around Alvani in winter. In the summer, the men and their families would lead their flocks of sheep up to summer pastures around Tbatana and in Tsovata, returning to Alvani in the autumn.
Prof. Joanna Nichols also wrote about the migration of the Batsbi in her article on "The Origin of the Chechen and Ingush":
Batsbi tradition as recorded by Desheriev (1953, 1963) preserves memory of a two-stage descent: first, abandonment of the original highland area in northern Tusheti, settling of villages lower in the mountains, and a period of transhumance plus permanent descents of a few families; then, complete abandonment of the highlands and year-round settlement in the lowlands after a flood destroyed one of the secondary mountain villages in the early nineteenth century. That is, Batsbi lowland outposts were established by a combination of transhumance and individual resettlements, and some time later there was a sizable migration into an established outpost.
Most of the Batsbi currently live in the village of Zemo ("Upper") Alvani in the eastern Georgian province of Kakheti, close to the town of Akhmeta (at the mouth of the Pankisi Gorge). Around half of Zemo Alvani's c.7,000 inhabitants are of Bats origin.
The first reference to the Batsbi in European ethnographical literature is in the chapter on the Tush and Tusheti in Johannes Güldenstädt's Reisen durch Rußland und im Caucasischen Gebürge ["Travels through Russia and in the Mountains of the Caucasus"], published posthumously by Peter Simon Pallas between 1787 and 1791, although Güldenstädt does not mention them by name, merely pointing out instead that "Kistian and Georgian are spoken equally in the 4 first-named villages [in the Ts'ova Gorge]. Their inhabitants could also more easily be descendants of the Kists than the other Tush" ["In den 4 erstgennanten Dörfern wird kistisch mit georgischen untermengt gesprochen. Die Einwohner können auch leicht mehr als die übrigen von Kisten gern abstammen."].
Figures from the Russian imperial census of 1873 given in Dr. Gustav Radde's Die Chews'uren und ihr Land — ein monographischer Versuch untersucht im Sommer 1876 include the Bats villages in the Ts'ova Gorge (dividing them into the "Indurta" and "Sagirta" communities):
1873 TOTAL: 344 households, consisting of 785 men and 741 women, in all 1,526 souls.
Dr. Radde adds: 'The members of [these two communities] have largely emigrated to the lowlands along the Alazani River, to the east of Akhmeta; they move up in summer to the rich pastures of Tbatana at the southern end of the Massara mountain range (see Itinerary), but still consider Indurta as their property and even leave 2-3 families living there in winter. [The Ts'ova Gorge is situated] By the north-western spring of the Tusheti Alazani River. [...] Together, these two communities made up the Ts'ova community until 1866.'
Concerning the slow decline of Batsbur as a language, Prof. Topshishvili's writes:
'In the scientific literature, especially in the Soviet Russian ethnographic science great attention was paid to the marriage facts of people of different languages. Russians were greatly interested in russification of the people living in the Russian empire to make them speak Russian. In the Soviet Russian ethnographic literature (I. Bromlei and others) it is emphasized that the problems rise in the languages of small groups when the percentage of their daughters-in-law of different languages exceeds 15-20%. In this case, the language gradually faces the danger. In such families the children do not speak their fathers’ languages (especially when there do not live grandmother and grandfather in the family). The children start speaking their mothers’ language from the very beginning and speak it afterwards.
'In this view, we got interested in the situation of the Tsova-Tushs at their compact dwelling place in the village Zemo (Upper) Alvani. In the local village board 398 married couples are officially registered. As it turned out, in the last 10-12 years, the considerable part of the married couples, because of different reasons (financial-economic conditions, moving registration center from village to the region center), are not registered officially. It appeared that, from the 398 couples only 226 are Tsova-Tushs. i.e. 226 Tush men’s wives are also Tsova- Tushs. That makes 56-57%. The rest men’s wives are aliens. The most of the latter are the women speaking Tush dialect of Georgian. There are also many women from the different villages of Kakheti region. Several Russian, Kist, Ossethian and Armenian women were also recorded. Thus, the percentage of those women in the Tsova families not speaking the Tsova-Tush language is 43, 22%.
'According to ethnographic data was proved that until the 60-70s of the XX century, the most of the Tsova-Tush (Batsbis) men entered into marriage with Tsova-Tush women. Though, even then were not rare the facts of marrying women speaking Tush dialect of the Georgian language. (Many of them were also studying the Tsova-Tush language. By the way, the Tsova-Tush women married to Georgian-speaking men, often taught their language to their children) But it does not exceed the considerable limit. The above mentioned conjugal relations lasted until the time when the marriage matter was a competence of the parents. Since the parents do not interfere in marriage matters of their children and the young people decide their fate independently, the most Tsova-Tush men often find their partners in other villages. All this reasoned in the dying-out of the Tsova-Tush (Batsb) language. Only 25-30 years ago existing bilingual situation is disappearing and the most part of the population uses Georgian as the usual language. The fact is that, the most Tsova-Tushs (Batsbis) consider this event as quite normal and only some of them are very sorry for that, especially the old people.
'It is also a remarkable fact that in disappearance of the Tsova-Tush (Batsb) language, the role of human factor should be eliminated. The indifference towards the above matter could be explained by their Georgian consciousness. They are the organic part of the Georgian nation and do not differ from other Georgians with their traditions, customs and habits and mentality.'
Bats are mammals of the order Chiroptera; with their forelimbs adapted as wings, they are the only mammals naturally capable of true and sustained flight. Bats are more manoeuvrable than birds, flying with their very long spread-out digits covered with a thin membrane or patagium. The smallest bat, and arguably the smallest extant mammal, is Kitti's hog-nosed bat, which is 29–34 mm (1.14–1.34 in) in length, 15 cm (5.91 in) across the wings and 2–2.6 g (0.07–0.09 oz) in mass. The largest bats are the flying foxes and the giant golden-crowned flying fox, Acerodon jubatus, which can weigh 1.6 kg (4 lb) and have a wingspan of 1.7 m (5 ft 7 in).
The second largest order of mammals, bats comprise about 20% of all classified mammal species worldwide, with over 1,200 species. These were traditionally divided into two suborders: the largely fruit-eating megabats, and the echolocating microbats. But more recent evidence has supported dividing the order into Yinpterochiroptera and Yangochiroptera, with megabats as members of the former along with several species of microbats. Many bats are insectivores, and most of the rest are frugivores (fruit-eaters). A few species feed on animals other than insects; for example, the vampire bats feed on blood. Most bats are nocturnal, and many roost in caves or other refuges; it is uncertain whether bats have these behaviours to escape predators. Bats are present throughout the world, with the exception of extremely cold regions. They are important in their ecosystems for pollinating flowers and dispersing seeds; many tropical plants depend entirely on bats for these services.
Bats provide humans with some benefits, at the cost of some threats. Bat dung has been mined as guano from caves and used as fertiliser. Bats consume insect pests, reducing the need for pesticides. They are sometimes numerous enough to serve as tourist attractions, and are used as food across Asia and the Pacific Rim. They are natural reservoirs of many pathogens, such as rabies; and since they are highly mobile, social, and long-lived, they can readily spread disease. In many cultures, bats are popularly associated with darkness, malevolence, witchcraft, vampires, and death.Bats language
Bats (also Batsi, Batsbi, Batsb, Batsaw, Tsova-Tush) is the endangered language of the Bats people, a Caucasian minority group, and is part of the Nakh family of Caucasian languages. It had 2,500 to 3,000 speakers in 1975.
There is only one dialect. It exists only as a spoken language, as the Bats people use Georgian as their written language. The language is not mutually intelligible with either Chechen or Ingush, the other two members of the Nakh family.Chechens
Chechens (; Chechen: Нохчий Noxçiy; Old Chechen: Нахчой Naxçoy) are a Northeast Caucasian ethnic group of the Nakh peoples originating in the North Caucasus region of Eastern Europe. They refer to themselves as Vainakhs (which means our people in Chechen) or Nokhchiy (pronounced [no̞xtʃʼiː]; singular Nokhchi, Nakhchuo or Nakhtche). Chechen and Ingush peoples are collectively known as the Vainakh. The majority of Chechens today live in the Chechen Republic, a subdivision of the Russian Federation.
The isolated terrain of the Caucasus mountains and the strategic value outsiders have placed on the areas settled by Chechens has contributed much to the Chechen community ethos and helped shape its fiercely independent national character. Chechen society has traditionally been egalitarian and organized around many autonomous local clans, called teips.Nakh languages
The Nakh languages are a group of languages within Northeast Caucasian, spoken chiefly by the Chechens and Ingush in the North Caucasus within Southern Russia.
Bats is the endangered language of the Bats people, an ethnic minority in Georgia.
The Chechen, Ingush and Bats peoples are also grouped under the ethno-linguistic umbrella of Nakh peoples.Nakh peoples
The Vainakh peoples (Russian: Вайнахи, apparently derived from Chechen вайн нах, Ingush вей нах "our people"; also Chechen-Ingush) are the speakers of the Vainakh languages, chiefly the Chechen, Ingush and Kist peoples of the North Caucasus, including closely related minor or historical groups
The term Nakh peoples (Нахские народы) was coined in the Soviet period to accommodate the wider linguistic family of Nakh languages, connecting the Chechen-Ingush group to the Bats people, an ethnic minority in northeastern Georgia.Northcaucasian race
Northcaucasian race (also Caucasionic race) is a term
for a proposed sub-race of the larger Caucasian race prosed by Carleton S. Coon (1930).
It comprises the native populations of the North Caucasus, the Balkars, Karachays and Vainakh (Chechens and Ingushs).Tush
Tush may refer to:
subgroup of Georgians Tushs or Tushetians
A slang term for the buttocks
Any of the canine teeth, of a horse
Tush, the Bats language of the Bats people, who live in Tusheti
"Tush" (ZZ Top song), a 1975 song by ZZ Top from their album Fandango!
"Tush" (Ghostface Killah song), a 2004 song by Ghostface Killah from his album The Pretty Toney Album
Tush (band), a band that at one time featured Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen
T.U.S.H., a 1970s Belgian rock band featuring Dany Lademacher and Walter de Paduwa
Tush (TV series), a 1980s variety show with Bill TushTusheti
Tusheti (Georgian: თუშეთი) is an historic region in northeast Georgia.
See Also: Ethnic minorities in Georgia