Tsakhur people

The Tsakhur or Caxur (Lezgian: ЦIахурар, Azerbaijani: Saxurlar, Russian: Цахуры) people are a Lezgin sub-ethnic group of northern Azerbaijan and southern Dagestan (Russia). The group numbers around 30,000 people and are called yiqy (pl. yiqby), but are generally known by the name Tsakhur, which derives from the name of a Dagestani village, where they make up the majority.

йыхъбы (Yiqby), цIаIхбы
Tsakhur child in Qum (Azerbaijan).JPG
Tsakhur child from Qum, Azerbaijan
Total population
c. 100,000
Regions with significant populations
Tsakhur, Lezgian, Azerbaijani, Russian
Sunni Islam
Related ethnic groups
Northeast Caucasian peoples


The Tsakhurs are first mentioned in 7th-century Armenian and Georgian sources where they are named Tsakhaik. After the conquest of Caucasian Albania by the Arabs, Tsakhurs formed a semi-independent state (later a sultanate) of Tsuketi and southwestern Dagestan.[4] By the 11th century, Tsakhurs who had mostly been Christian, converted to Islam.[citation needed] From the 15th century some began moving south across the mountains to what is now the Zaqatala District of Azerbaijan. In the 18th century the capital of the state moved south from Tsakhur in Dagestan to İlisu and came to be called the Elisu Sultanate. West of the Sultanate Tsakhurs formed the Djaro-Belokani free communities. The sultanate was in the sphere of influence of the Shaki Khanate. It became part of the Russian Empire by the beginning of the 19th century.


Tsakhurs live in Azerbaijan's Zaqatala region, where they make up 14% of the population, and in Gakh, where they constitute less than 2%. In Dagestan, they live in the mountainous parts of the Rutulsky district. According to Wolfgang Schulze, there are 9 villages in Azerbaijan, where Tsakhurs make up the majority of the population, all of them in Zaqatala. 13 more villages in Zaqatala and Gakh have a significant Tsakhur minority.[5]


The main traditional occupation of the Tsakhurs include raising sheep, which is the most important part of their economy. However, Tsakhurs are also known for their skills as stonemasons, tailors, carpenters, and makers of handicrafts (which includes carpet-weaving and knitting).[6]


Most Tsakhurs speak the Tsakhur language as their native language. The rate of bilingualism in Tsakhur and Azeri is high.[4] Other languages popular among Tsakhurs include Russian and Lezgian.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Russian Census 2010: Population by ethnicity Archived 2013-12-04 at the Wayback Machine (in Russian)
  2. ^ "National composition of population by regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan, person". Council of Europe. p. 2. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  3. ^ State statistics committee of Ukraine - National composition of population, 2001 census (Ukrainian)
  4. ^ a b Minahan, James B. (2016). Encyclopedia of Stateless Nations: Ethnic and National Groups around the World. ABC-CLIO. p. 427. ISBN 978-1-61069-954-9.
  5. ^ The Sociolinguistic Situation of the Tsakhur in Azerbaijan by John M. Clifton et al. SIL International, 2005
  6. ^ Akiner, Shirin (1986). Islamic Peoples Of The Soviet Union. Routledge. pp. 168–169. ISBN 978-1-136-14266-6.

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