The Andi of Russia
Numbering only 10,600, the Andi are strongly dominated by the Avar, a larger people group located farther south. The Avar control the main communication and trade routes for Daghestan's mountainous regions and central plateau areas.
Until the 1930's, the Andi were officially considered a distinct ethnic group with their own language. However, during the 1930's, the Andi, like many other small people groups in the North Caucasus region, have been classified by the Soviet government as part of the Avar.
What are their lives like?
The Andi wear typical European styles. The traditional woman's costume, however, is quite unique. The most notable part of this costume is the chukhtu, an embroidered headdress in the form of a half-moon, with the ends pointing downward. The chukhtu was worn regularly until the 1930's; now it is only worn for ceremonial occasions.
The traditional Andi settlements consisted of tightly packed buildings located on mountain ridges. Each village had a territory that was reserved for its own use. The boundaries around the villages were clearly marked and respected. Each village was divided into quarters, with a central square and a mosque that was used for religious services every Friday.
The homes of well-to-do Andi are typically built with separate guest rooms. The interior of a traditional home includes a central column and a large fireplace decorated with clay ornaments. Domestic utensils are stored on shelves and niches on the walls.
The Andi traditionally married at the age of 15 or older. Marriages were monogamous (one husband, one wife), although polygamy (having more than one spouse) was permitted. "Matchmakers" mediated the wedding arrangements, but no bride-price had to be paid. Wedding ceremonies could last up to three days and were sometimes accompanied by horse-racing competitions.
What are their beliefs?
With the growing popularity of Islam in the Russian Federation, Muslim influence is increasing among the Andi. Thousands of mosques and hundreds of Islamic schools have re-opened in Russia's Muslim regions. Today, practically all of the Andi are Shafiite Muslims.
Prior to their conversion to Islam, the Andi regularly visited a cultic center on the peak of one of the mountains. This cult declined after the spread of Islam, but did not entirely disappear. Even now, in times of summer drought, men and women ascend the mountain to perform rainmaking rituals.
Even today, the spiritual life of the Andi includes various elements of superstition. According to popular belief, each person has an invisible doppelgänger (a ghostly counterpart of a living person). The Andi believe that the events in people's lives are thought to be a repetition of what has happened to their doubles.
What are their needs?
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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