Circassian Music & Musicology
Къуныжь ТIатIу и къуэ Хьэждал
Hezhdal Qwnizch (1930/1-1996), Honoured Artist of the Kabardino-Balkarian ASSR and soloist of the Choir of the Television and Radio Broadcasting of the Kabardino-Balkarian ASSR, is a folk singer of note. He recorded many songs and chants, including the emotionally-charged ‘The Plaintive Song of Zhambot and Yeqwb’ («ЖАМБОТРЭ ЕКЪУБРЭ Я ТХЬЭУСЫХЭ» ‘Zhambotre Yeqwbre ya Thewsixe’) [of which an audio file is available on this website].
Qwnizch joined the Philharmonic Symphony Ensemble (the forerunner of the Kabardino-Balkarian State Philharmonic) and worked in the 1950s with such illustrious musicians as Hesen Amirx’an Hex’wpasch’e (Амырхъан ХьэхъупащIэ и къуэ Хьэсэн), Muhezhir Pschihesch’e (ПщыхьэщIэ Мухьэжыр; accomplished and much recorded accordion player), Qanschobiy Qwschhe (Къущхьэ Къанщобий), and others.
Qwnizch had an impressive range of songs in his repertoire. We shall include a number of seminal songs. This is an on-going project. Any additional information (sent to email@example.com) on this accomplished minstrel, or any other comments and suggestions, will be much appreciated.
Songs by Hezhdal Qwnizch
1. The Song of Andeimirqan
(Андемыркъан и уэрэд; Andeimirqan yi Wered)
The words of the song (in Kabardian) are found in Z. Qardenghwsch’, 1979, pp 32-4. A full account of Andeimirqan, his exploits and murder can be found in Z. Qardenghwsch’, 1969 (1970), pp 223-336.
Andeimirqan (b. circa 1509), the equivalent of Robin Hood in the Circassian ethos, was a contemporary of the 16th-century potentate Prince Beislhen (Beslan) (son of Zhanx’wet), nicknamed ‘Pts’apts’e’ (‘The Obese’), who is credited with modifying the structure of the peerage system and updating the Xabze. Andeimirqan was the progeny of a mésalliance; his father was a prince, his mother was of unknown stock. According to one legend, he was found by Andeimir while on a hunting expedition. When his hound barked at the trunk of a tree, he wondered what the matter was, only to find a twig-basket perched on a forked branch. He brought it down and found a tiny baby covered in the basket. Andeimir, who was childless, was joyful at the find, and he brought up the child as his own.
Andeimirqan grew up to be an intrepid horseman. The news of his exploits went far and wide. He was in the entourage of Prince Beislhen, and one day while the potentate was on a hunting expedition – carted in a carriage, as the Prince was too large to fit on a horse – the Prince took aim at a wild boar, but missed the mark, and the boar fled into the forest. As the boar was driven out of the forest, the Prince took another aim, but missed again. However, Andeimirqan’s arrow pierced the boar and stuck him to the Prince’s carriage. By some accounts, it was there and then that Beislhen resolved to get rid of Andeimirqan. He instigated Qaniybolet, one of Andeimirqan’s closest friends and younger brother of Prince Temriuk Idarov, to betray him. One day, Qaniybolet asked Andeimirqan to go out with him on a hunting expedition. A contingent of Beislhen’s troops lay in ambush, and they put the hero to the sword. Some analysts maintain that the murder was a result of the internecine war for supremacy over Kabarda, as Andeimirqan, despite the obscurity of his mother’s lineage, could have claimed the mantle of sovereignty for his warrior character and bravery. It is thought that Andeimirqan was killed before 1552. He was Christian. At the time, the Circassians venerated Dawischjerjiy (St. George) and Yele (Prophet, or St. Elijah), in addition to their pagan gods. It was Beislhen Pts’apts’e’s son Prince Qaniqwe who left Kabarda (in the second half of the 16th century) to establish the Beislheney (Beslanay) nation- tribe.
2. The Plaintive Song of Zhambot and Yeqwb
(Жамботрэ Екъубрэ я тхьэусыхэ; Zhambotre Yeqwbre ya Thewsixe)
The song was composed by the minstrel Yisuf Mesey (Мэсей Исуф). The words (in Kabardian, with Russian translation) and sheet music are available in V. H. Bereghwn and Z. P’. Qardenghwsch’, 1990, pp 461-72. The words of the song (under the title ‘Qwschhe Zhambot yi Wered’ [‘The Song of Zhambot the Balkarian’]) are also found in Z. Qardenghwsch’, 1979, pp 73-80.
This is a classic tale of murder and revenge. One day, Zhambot Qwschhe was murdered in his house. His mother instructed her other son, Yeqwb, to avenge his brother and slay his murderers, or else she would disown him. Yeqwb pursued his brother’s killers for two years and slew one of the suspects in
Zhambot and Yeqwb – who were of noble lineage – and their mother (a Kabardian from the Disch’ech’ family) came to the
3. Woe unto me!
This is a traditional plaintive chant.
(Дахэжан; Daxezhan; name of a girl; literally: ‘Beautiful Princess’)
This is Qwnizch’s rendering of the famous traditional song.
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If you like Qwnizch's style of singing, you can listen to more of his songs and chants at: