Qists in Georgia

 Qist is the name of Chechens, living in Georgia and its border north Caucasus. They speak on Qistian dialect of Chechen-Ingush languages.

Settlement of Qists in Georgia (Kakheti) began from XVII century and lasted till the sixties of XIX. Their national signs are: language and religion (Islam). Elements of material culture are sustained mainly in compact settlements-villages of Pankisi Gorge. Qists know Georgian language except their mother language. Influence of the Georgian material culture is strongly expressed in life of Qistian population of Pankisi Gorge. They get education on Georgian language. Some families speak on jargon that is the mix of Qistian dialect and Georgian. Qists follow locally widespread sorts of rural economy; they make hats, carpets, felt cloaks and etc.

It is known that office of Saeristhavo (head of nation) of Pankisi represented one of the administrative units of old Kakheti princedom, it covered Pankisi Gorge, Alvani Field and Thusheti; Center-Fortress of Pankisi. Pankisi Fortress is the medial castle in east Georgia. It is supposed that survived ruins on the mountain of Salatsani and Maghrani ravines (in Pankisi Gorge-- Akhmeta region) are the vestiges of Pankisi Fortress.

Saeristhavo of Pankisi is mentioned in sources in the middle years of XI century for the first time. Vakhushti Bagrationi names three offices of Saeristhavos. As the third, the scientist names the following office of Saeristhavo: \"of Pankisi i.e. Marilisi and gave up to the upper Caucasus of Hereti border and Kakheti mountain with Dusheti\".

Villages of residents, settled above the gorge, are located close to each other in narrow valley of the Alazani River. Qists settled there approximately 120 years ago. They came from the north bottoms of Caucasus ridge and are the separate relatives of Chechens. They occupy three big villages along the river Alazani-Dui, Jokola and Omalo, from 60 to 120 families in each and three new villages-Khoroja, Chkhatana and Qartabude, from 6 to 12 families in each. Other part of this nation lives by border of the mountaineer republic, in the outermost north part of Thianeti region.

Villages of Qists are located in Pankisi Gorge so that they occupy exit from gorge to the valley. Qists follow agriculture and cattle breeding; some habits from medieval time exist even today, among them blood taking.

According to the census of 2002, 7,110 Kists lived in Georgia.


- G. Shengelia, What lands we had over here, journal \"Politics\", 2001, #3, pp.60-61;
- Principal results of census of the Georgian population, Tbilisi 2002, B.I-II.