First mentioning of dog in the Georgian and Caucasian legends is legend about Amirani-Prometheus which is dated from period of stell making: After gods chained Amirani to Mountain Caucasus he was accompanied by dog named Q'ursha [ყურშა]. His faithful dog Q'ursha (Q'uri [ყური] is ear - this name mentions specific charcter of ears of the dog) tries to gnaw through the chains, but every time Amiran is close to freeing himself, he is thwarted by either a woman who talks too much, a wagtail perching on the pole, or the combined activity of the local blacksmiths, who reinforce the chains by banging on their anvils every Holy Thursday morning. Legend of Amirani is very old and preceids Greek legend about Prometheus. This role of dog as a simbol of faith points to exeptional role of dogs in the Caucasus in the oldest times.
For a people, who do not know historical specific of sheep herding in the Caucasus - it is difficult to understand role of dogs in this branch of antient agriculture - giving life to vaste population of Georgia and especially to mountaineous tribes of Georgians - Tush, Khevsur, Mokheve, Samtckhe-Javakhety.
Mounaineous Georgian Castle-Village, Svaneti
During southand years this tribes were following specific herding - seasonly changing place where sheeps were feeding - during warm periods they were in the mountains (which is Tusheti itself) and during cold period on the plain. Tushs from the very old times have had special agreement with Kakhetian kings: kings were giving them fields for feeding of ships based on obligation of Tushs to participate in the war on side of Kakhetian kings. During cenuries Tushs shepherds were seasinly serving in the army (like may be Swiss) and were most important part of armed forces. There are at list several mentions in Tushetian folklore were are mentioned dogs supporting Tushetian fighters during the war.
Seasonal migrations of Georgian sheep herds
Russian Empire at Caucasus for 1886
Comperative sizes of Georgia an New York City (Long Island)
are to be taken into account discussing history and genesis of Nagazi breed -
Georgia and even Caucasus is VERY small teritory
Tusheti summer pastures
Compare corelation of density of sheeps and slope ranges
Special notice: In Georgia plains are intesively used for agriculture (vineyards, etc.) and they can not be used as sheep pastures exept most eastern part of Kakheti (near Azerbaijan), also - steep and very steep and high teritories (alpic deserts) can't be used as pastures.
Sheep and Goat (1000 heads): Georgia - 700; Armenia - 603; Azerbaijan - 174621 (Source: FAO)
During all pre-firearms period of the history (thousands of years) attacks of wolfs and bears on sheeps herds on territories covered by mountaineous forests was given severe damage to this vital branch of economy. In such a situation guarding of herds by dogs was conducted by vital nessecity. Now it is to be evident that shepherds neaded specific dogs which can stop wolfs. Important to understand is also, that Caucasian mountaineous wulf and bear are not as big as for example wulfs spreaded in Russia and Eastern and Western Europe. Also Caucassian wolfs are not forming big wings including dosens of wolfs. Mostly herd was attacking by 3-4 wolfs and dosen of Nagazi were able to stop them.
Everybody who can see pictures of mountaineous Caucassian villages are astonished by amount of small castels there and this is another part of story about Nagazis. Most of this castles appeared in Caucasus exactly in time when Russian empire started intensive occupation of the North Caucasus. Russian Cossacs occupied most vital agricultural territories of North Caucassian peoples and forced them to go deep into the mountains. North Caucassians stay witout vital agriculture lands and starvin started massive attacks on neibour Georgian regions - period of "Great Lekianoba" started. "Lekianoba" is from "Leki" - Lezgins, which was common name of North Caucassian muslim in this time. During Lekianoba role of dogs as guards of villages grown abnormally and it is to be evident, that nessecity agein forced Mountainers to pay special attention on breeding.
Inhabitants of mounaineous Georgian Castle-Village
Also one is to mention one specific of mountaineous sheep herding - during the day herd and shepherds are moving from mountain camp to long distance and products and goods (also baby ships). During this time several Nagazis are alone to guarding camp from wolfs and human enemy.
Inhabitants of mounaineous Georgian Castle-Village
Even when firearms appeared, they were too expensive and common shepherds were not able to use them widely in everyday life. Situation drastically changed only at the beginning of 18th century and especially from the mid of 19th century. Amount of rifles was growing during this period and nessecity of guard dogs somehow was lowered.
Soviet and Russian ideology commonly uses to connect Nagazi ("Caucasian Ovcharka") with specific Asian breeds of dogs - to preserve their "Prioritet" - priority. This ideological and propagandistic approach is to be very taken into account discussing this theme. Russia alwais was too ideologised and too unrealistic.
Armed Khevsur - Shepherd
Healthy analisis are to look at European Alpic line of dogs (Bernardins, Kuvach...) - which from every point are very close relatives of Caucassian breed. One is also to take into account, that cultural links in antient times on colossal teritories of Asia were not as active to spread dogs. Remeber for example travel of Marko Polo - it looked as fantastic.
Armed Khevsur Shepherd, paint by G.Gagarin 1847 >>>
Authors opinion is that ancestors Caucasian Ovcharkas were spreaded Europe and Asia with culture of Sheep Herding - and roots can be found with roots of spreading of cultural sheep herding.
We hope that in neares future DNA analises would be also avaliable for dogs and this would be good support for classification and genealogia of Nagazis.
Earliest Domesticated Dogs Uncovered
By Jennifer Viegas, Animal Planet News
Skull of a Stone Age Dog
May 8, 2003 — The skulls of two Stone Age dogs believed to be the earliest known canines on record have been found, according to a team of Russian scientists.
The dog duo, which lived approximately 14,000 years ago, appear to represent the first step of domestication from their wild wolf ancestors.
Mikhail Sablin, a scientist at the Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg, along with his colleague Gennady Khlopachev, analyzed the dog remains, which were found at the Eliseevichi I site in the Bryansk region of Russia's central plain, according to an Informnauka press agency release.
"We suggest that the dogs looked like present-day Tibetan mastiffs or Caucasian sheep dogs," Sablin told Discovery News. "The dogs had a much wider palate and shorter rostrum than Siberian huskies and Great Danes. The reconstructed withers height is about 70 cm (27.56 inches), therefore the dogs belonged to a very strange and dangerous heavy hunting/guarding breed."
Both Sablin and his colleague believe humans domesticated the dogs from local northern wolves at the site. While large and strong, the Stone Age canines exhibited relatively short snouts, which distinguished them from their wild wolf ancestors.
The dogs perished as adults. But at the time of their deaths they were probably remembered more as man's best dinner rather than man's best friend. One of the skulls had a hole where a human likely removed the brain for consumption, as was the common practice in later known periods.
Their skulls were found next to the bones of a mammoth, an Arctic fox and a reindeer. It is probable that those animals also wound up as meat for Stone Age humans.
During their lifetimes, the canines likely were hunting and guard dogs, according to the researchers.
Sablin explained that certain humans already had begun to partially control labor, trade and ritualistic social activities. The unequal distribution of resources led to a social hierarchy, with people of prestige and power getting Stone Age status symbols, like dogs.
He said, "In this context it can be assumed that the large wolf-like dogs were used to guard not only against predators, (but also) their presence (at a particular site) may have indicated the high social status of the inhabitants."
Susan Crockford, an archaeozoologist at Pacific Identifications, Inc., a firm that specializes in identification of birds and animals from archaeological remains, agreed that the Russian dogs "are certainly the oldest complete skulls from this early period," and said, "the evidence is good that these are truly domestic dogs."
She added that other, slightly later, dog remains have been found in Israel, Germany and the Czech Republic but, "I think (the Eliseevichi dogs) remind us that there must be many more than one center of domestication, and not just the Middle East as was once thought."
Саблин М.В., Хлопачев Г.А. Собаки из верхнепалеолитического поселения Елисеевичи I// Stratum plus2001-2002. № 1. В начале был камень. СПб, Кишинев, Одесса, Бухарест: Высшая антропологическая школа, 2004. С. 393-397
|ნაგაზი, Nagazi, Caucasian Ovcharka, Кавказская Овчарка, Caucasian Shepherd Dog, Caucasian Mountain Dog, Caucasian Sheepdog, Caucasian Volkodav, Trans-Caucasian Ovtcharka