Edi Isaev on Customs and Traditions of Chechens
The ethos of taip
Since the 16th century, the Chechens have been living in distinct patriarchal family clans or "taips" (from Arabic "taifa" group, circle, community). Each taip gradually evolved into a tree of offshoots, or "tars". Each tar gave rise to a separate taip. Each person within a tar knew the name of the founding forefather of his of her tar. Each Chechen was also supposed to remember the names of at least 20 of his or her ancestors.
In all, there have been as many as 135 Chechen taips. Over 20 consist or consisted of assimilated descendants of non-Chechens, who joined the Chechen people in different conditions and at different times. Each taip had an obligatory ethos, and the higher the social standing of a man within his taip, the stricter he was supposed to adhere to that ethos.
Each such ethos had the principles of what we no call "freedom. liberty and brotherhood" in its heart of hearts. It also upheld mutual help, respect for seniors and chivalry towards women. In everyday life, all these principles existed as customs. A violator of them attracted general condemnation from fellow taipfolk, regardless of his or her standing within the taip. People would choose a roadside site for what they called "a damnation heap" in the name of the offender and through rocks and earth upon this when passing by. Each rock or lump would come in package with strong words of denunciation with regard to the man or woman whose name had been associated with the heap.
In his book "The Vainakh Ethos", Professor E.Isayev argues that taips are still relevant today because norms of behaviour within them play a great role in the upbringing of the young.
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