The foundation of any culture is the national language. Abkhaz is one of the most ancient languages in the world. Together with related languages (Abaza, Adyg, Circassian, Kabardian, Ubykh), it constitutes the Abkhaz-Adyg group. The Abkhaz language is spoken today by over 120,000 people in Abkhazia and up to half a million outside of it.
The Abkhaz language is represented by the Abzhuy and Bzyb dialects. The literary language of the Abkhazians is based on the Abzhuy dialect; writing is on the Cyrillic alphabet. Initially, the Russian linguist Pyotr Uslar compiled the Abkhazian alphabet on a Russian graphic basis in 1862. The first Abkhazian primer was published in 1865. In 1892, an updated and corrected "Abkhazian alphabet" was published; its compilers were Dmitry Gulia and Konstantin Machavariani.
The Abkhaz language became the state language of the Republic in 1994. In 2007, the law "On the state language of the Republic of Abkhazia" was adopted.
The richness of the national culture of Abkhazia is poetic and musical folklore, music, folk dances.
The most famous monument of the epic genre of the Abkhazian culture is the legends about the Narts and Abrskil, the Abkhazian Prometheus. The Nart epos is typical for the entire Abkhaz-Adyg group of peoples, as well as for Ossetians, Vainakh peoples - Chechens and Ingush.
The musical instruments of the Abkhazians are also exceptionally original. Apkhyartsa is the most popular string instrument. It is a two-stringed bowed instrument with a narrow spindle-shaped body, usually made of alder wood. Another popular instrument is ayumaa - a 14-strings harp of an original shape, its strings are made of horsehair. The most popular wind instruments is acharpyn - a single-barreled flute with several holes - mostly three, less often six. The Abkhazian flute is made of cow parsnip (it is called "ачарпын" in Abkhazian) and a linear ornament is applied to it.
Drums and various rattles represent percussion instruments - akyapkyap, which were used, among other things, to scare away birds from the fields. The drum - adaul - is very popular; it often acts as the main accompaniment, especially in dances.
Abkhazian dances are the most popular form of art among the Abkhazians. There are several professional dance ensembles in Abkhazia today. Children's choreographic studios have also been opened throughout the Republic. The repertoire of the groups consists of folklore, ritual dances with daggers and cloaks, dances of other peoples of the Caucasus.
Abkhazian folk singing is diverse and multifaceted. Abkhazian songs were born event-oriented and accompanied people in different periods of their lives from birth to death (lullaby, heroic, labor, wedding, ritual, religious songs).
The State Folk Song and Dance Ensemble of the Republic of Abkhazia, the State Folk Dance Ensembles "Sharatyn" and "Kavkaz", the children's ensemble "Abaza", the ethnographic ensemble "Nartaa", the vocal and instrumental female ensemble "Gunda", the State Orchestra of Folk Instruments named after Otar Khuntsaria, Choir "Akhyshtra" - this is an incomplete list of creative groups, thanks to which the Abkhazian folk dance art and folk singing are known in the Republic and abroad. The State Chamber Orchestra and the State Choir of Abkhazia are also known in the world. The main concert venue of the chapel is the hall of the Pitsunda Church of the 11th century, where the ensemble performs accompanied by an organ.
The preparation of the creative elite of the Republic is constantly going on in professional educational institutions - the Sukhum Musical College and the Sukhum State School of Culture. The first opera singer of Abkhazia was Lyudmila Logua. Her younger colleagues are Khibla Gerzmaa (Soloist of the Moscow Musical Theater named after Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko, People's Artist of Russia and Abkhazia, laureate of the State Prize of the Russian Federation) and Alisa Gitsba (Soloist of the Moscow Musical Theater "Helikon-Opera", People's Artist of Abkhazia and Honored artist of Russia, laureate of international competitions) perform at famous opera houses around the world.
An important element of the material culture of the Abkhazians is national clothing. Clothing corresponded to the occupation; it was divided into everyday, festive and ritual. The most ancient and most common type of men's national clothing is akumzhva (Circassian coat). Pants and a shirt with a tightly fastened collar were put on under it. Rawhide postols served as shoes, and when going outside they put on shoes made of homemade morocco leather. Men wore a headdress of the original form - akhtyrpa (hood). An obligatory attribute of the Abkhazian rider was auapa (burka) - a cape made of shaggy felt.
Women's clothing was also multi-layered and consisted of several parts: a dress, a long or short caftan, a shirt, two petticoats, pants, and a hat or scarf. The dress was pulled together at the waist with a belt - a separate decoration of fine workmanship. Often the belts were real works of art. A short caftan was sewn from homespun cloth or velvet, tightly fitting the chest, and flared below the waistline.
A special element of traditional culture in ancient times was alabashya - a wooden staff with a metal tip and a hook in the form of a natural branch. It served as a weapon, was a support when walking and served as a kind of tribune: if the elder stuck his staff into the ground and leaned on it, it meant that he wanted to make a speech.
Museums and theaters
There are many cultural institutions in Sukhum, the doors of which are open to guests and residents of Abkhazia: these are the Abkhazian State Museum, the Museum of Military Glory named after Vladislav Ardzinba, the Literary and Memorial Museum of Dmitry Gulia, the Museum of the poet Omar Beiguaa, the Museum of Money, the Abkhazian State Philharmonic named after Razhden Gumba.
There are four state theaters in Abkhazia: the Abkhazian Drama Theater named after Samson Chanba, the Russian Drama Theater named after Fazil Iskander, the Tkuarchal State Comedy Theater named after Sharah Pachalia and the Youth Theater. Their repertoire is diverse; they stage performances based on the Abkhazian, Russian and world classics.