The Kryts of Azerbaijan

Kryts is a language that is spoken in Azerbaijan. Approximately 10,000 to 15,000 people are Kryts. The language has different dialects. This includes the Jek dialect, Kryts, Khaput, Alyk and Yergyudzh dialects. The dialects are quite distinct and are not mutually intelligible. So much so, that they can be considered to be separate languages. Kryts has been classified as a severely endangered language in the Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, which is run by UNESCO. Currently, the language is not widely used in the public arena. It is mostly spoken by older people at home.

The Kryts language falls under the Shahdag group of languages, which belongs to the Lezgian-Samur group of Dagestan languages. Kryts is linguistically similar to the Budukh language. Alternate names for the Kryts language is Dhzek, Katsy, Kryzy, Kryc, Kryz, Dzek and Dhzeki. Kryts has no writing system. The 1st written evidence of the Kryts language was in the 18th century by the Russian traveler and soldier Gerber. Kryts land was part of the Shemakha Khanate, which was later annexed by Russia. The Kryts lived in 5 villages in the Konakhkent District of Azerbaijan. These villages and other Kryts settlements are located in remote parts of Caucasia.

The Kryts people call themselves kjrtuar and their language kjruaj mez. Kryts are primarily horticulturists, agriculturalists and livestock keepers. They are also good in crafts and are engaged in the manufacture of carpets, rugs and patterned socks. The Kryts society was based on kinship relationships, until the end of the 19th century when capitalism began to be incorporated into their economic system. This began the disintegration of the Kryts economic and social way of life. The Kryts culture underwent considerable change in the 1950s and 60s. This was mainly because the Kryts lost their geographical isolation and began adopting to a more modern way of life. They engaged in more leisure activities such as watching films, and using libraries. The old customs such as wedding ceremonies were changed. Due to exposure to a European way of life and better education opportunities, the dressing style and household appliances that were bought in shops rather than home made. Most Kryts are Sunni Muslims.

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