Edi Isaev on Customs and Traditions of Chechens
"Yah", the main virtue in man
Chechen epics ("illis"), songs, fables and parables often end with the phrase "May no mother ever give birth to a son without "yah"!"
Professors I.Aliroyev and D.Medzhidov, in their book "The Customs, Traditions and Norms of the Chechen People" (Grozny, 1992), have this to say: "Whenever you hear that a person has no "yah", this means the person in question commands no respect within his or her circle. Describing a man as having no "yah" is as good as saying he is no man at all. Stating that a man possesses "yah" is the highest possible praise to that man. A man with "yah" in him is a model to emulate. He possesses all the qualities that the Vainakhs deem positive in their ethical code."
"Yah" (akin to "yuh" face, countenance, decent appearance) fully embraces fortitude, valour, courage and bravery but does not boil down to them.
The collector of Vainakh folklore Merited Teacher of the Russian Federation Adam Dolatov calls attention to relevant chapters of "Yahian Kostash" ("Behests of Decency and Dignity"), a codified collection of traditional ethical principles of the Vainakh people: "Gain the deepest possible insight into yourself and your ancestry. Retain your "yah". Never lose decency or dignity. ... Your are mortal. But never be fearful of your physical death. The only thing to be really feared is life without decency, dignity, spirit. faith or "yah". He who loses them loses his freedom as well ... ."
Other elements of 'yah' include modesty, moderation, generosity, responsiveness to other people's needs and also the pursuit of public recognition by showing best results in labour, battle, sport and help to others and by modestly holding the last place in the queue for awards.
The Vainakh family code calls on the parents to instill competitive qualities in their children. "Yah" supposes high competitiveness in people who have it.
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