Introduction / History
The Dargins are from the North Caucasus Mountains of southwestern Russia. Prior to the Russian annexation of their region, the Dargin people were great architects. They were noted for their artistic talent displayed in their buildings. Like the other people groups of this mountainous region, the Dargins have suffered from numerous invasions by Persians, Arabs, Huns, and Russians through the centuries.
The Dargins are not just one people group but have 17-19 nearly mutually unintelligible languages, with an additional 40 dialects. Their name, Dargwa, actually means "free, distinct societies/communities". In the early 20th century they were "collected" into a greater Dargin region. During the Soviet Era, the Dargins became almost completely literate in the Russian language. Before that time, only the elite were able to learn letters, and this was in Arabic.
Where are they located?
Though most Dargins still live in the North Caucasus Mountains (specifically in Dagestan), some have moved to other former Soviet states such as Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan.
What are their lives like?
The Dargin people live primarily by farming, but some have supplemented their incomes through crafts, stone-working, tanning, and metal-working. Many raise livestock, especially in places like Uzbekistan where the land is good for grazing.
Like the other peoples of the North Caucasus, the Dargins have been used and abused by outsiders for centuries. As a result, they are highly suspicious of any outsider who comes to their villages, be they in Dagestan or Uzbekistan. They have adapted to their vulnerable situation by living in mountainous areas and staying away from outsiders and their ideas. It might take someone many years to win the trust of this people group.
What are their beliefs?
Islam began to arrive in the Dargins homeland in the 8th century, but it was not generally accepted until the 15th century. Today they are officially Sunni Muslim, but there is a great deal of syncretism in their beliefs. They practice magic and try to ward off evil through rituals. They have various rituals for the seasons, but the most important ceremony has to do with the first furrow in their plowing. They have sacred trees and groves.
As Muslims, they believe that death is predetermined by faith. There is an afterlife, and day of judgment, heaven and hell. Their funerals follow Islamic rites with prayers for the deceased and memorials on the 40th or 52 days after the death.
What are their needs?
Dargin people need to experience and internalize the grace, mercy and love of our Lord Jesus Christ so they can be free to live an abundant life.
Text source: Keith Carey