Prof. George Hewitt

Three Abkhazian Tales (Plus One More)

In 1997 the late Abkhazian ethnographer Sergej Zykhwba published in Aqw’a (aka Sukhum, capital of Abkhazia) a solid collection of Abkhazian folktales entitled Apswa Lakw’kwa ‘Abkhazian Folktales’ (602pp.) with a print-run of 600. Three stories contained in this volume appeared two years later in Tbilisi (capital of Georgia) in a pocket-edition of three paperback booklets (apparently aimed at children, to judge by the nature of the slip-case and internal illustrations) with a print-run of 500. Each of the three booklets in this mini-edition carries the statement in both Georgian and Abkhaz: ‘The publication was prepared within the framework of the Programme to Establish the State-status of the Abkhaz Language (the Programme’s author and Overseer is Zurab Shengelia), with the financial assistance of the Embassy of Gt. Britain’. Many more foreigners visit the Republic of Georgia than visit the Republic of Abkhazia, and so those with an interest in the Abkhaz language are more likely to have acquired the Tbilisi publication than Zykhwba’s substantial tome. It is only fair to point out that the Georgian-produced booklets must have been poorly proofed, because they are sadly far from being error-free, which will present considerable difficulties to anyone tempted to use them when trying to study or learn the language. Given this state of affairs, I have decided to present the three tales according to the texts in Zykhwba’s publication (though the minor spelling-reforms that were introduced after this volume, as well as the Tbilisi edition, came out will be introduced and typos corrected), appending my translation to the texts1.

The ‘Plus One More’ is the lengthy ‘Xabzhyn’s Tale’, which was published by Zykhwba in his earlier 1976 collection, also entitled Apswa Lakw’kwa ‘Abkhazian Folktales’ (223pp.) and which was published in Tbilisi with a print-run of 2,000. The story in question can be found on pages 88-103.

The full text in PDF can be downloaded by clicking here

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