The Kist
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The Kist

Trashumants of the Caucasus

Trashumants of the Caucasus

The Kist people inhabit the Pankisi region situated in the North of Georgia, close to the border with Chechnya. They are Chechen that settled in Pankisi between 1830-1870.
They received the Georgian citizenship and Georgian surnames during the Second World War.


  • Region is Europe

  • Climate here is Tropical



Apart from traditional agriculture and handicraft, tourism is the best business for young Kists, especially agrotourism. Most Kist families are involved in transhumance and agro-pastoralism. They sell their products in national markets, selling honey, milk, meat and crop.


Traditional villages were composed of scattered homes in the valley. One entire family lived closely together in one house, called Type. Today Kist live in homes built with local materials and they are not traditional anymore, following the modern Georgian architecture.


Social Structure

At the base of their social structure is the family group called Tsa or "home", ruled by the head of the family, above which there is the clan, called “Teip”, formed by a council of the elderly. The members of the council are democratically elected among the heads of each family, and they can take political and economic decisions. The tukkhum is an alliance between clans and is above the Teip. There are strict divisions of responsibilities between the male and female members of one family.


Kists’ religion is a syncretisation of Sunni Muslim beliefs with animistic folk religion, but some are Christian.


Guests are greatly respected when hosted in a family’s house.

Sworn brotherhood and sisterhood were common in the past; these participated in each other’s lives, helping with work, weddings, and if needed, avenge the other’s blood in case of assassination.

Weddings were the apotheosis of Kists' traditions, from the arranging of the marriage, which was organised in great detail, to the wedding itself and customs. However, today Kist wedding ceremonies resemble normal Georgians ones.

Blood revenge among North Caucasian and Georgian highlanders were common in the past and essential for the clans to defend their family.


The native language of most of the Kist is Georgian; however, Chechen is also widely spoken.


Kists do not have specific traditional art. However, some Kists today are more and more involved in artistic production.


Most of Kist's festivities are related to religious celebrations.
Further knowledge

Further knowledge

Kists are people for whom it is not easy to express their emotions. They are also honest, fair, austere in character and give special importance to the value of friendship. They are proud of their past and their traditions.

Tusheti region, Georgia

Man with papakha

Local older people, Georgia

Local Woman, Georgia

Performance, Men, Georgia

Caucasian Village