The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the Russian name for a man’s outer garment once common among many peoples of the Caucasus, including the Georgians, Circassians, Abkhazians, and Tsakhurs; it was also adopted by the Terek and Kuban’ cossacks.

The cherkeska is a caftan with a single, unfastened opening down the front and no collar. It is usually black, brown, or gray and may be made from hand-woven or ready-made cloth. The cherkeska normally falls a little below the knee. It is gathered and pleated at the waist and is tied with a narrow belt. The sleeves are long and wide. From four to eight gazyri (leather pockets) are sewn on each side of the chest; they are designed to hold the wooden cylinders in which the Caucasians used to keep rifle cartridges.

The cherkeska is still worn on holidays and for special events, such as folk art performances.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Notwithstanding their linguistic and religious differences, all Caucasian nations, including the Cossacks, wear the uniform attire called cherkeska [Circassian coat] with a tall fleece hat and fancy dagger, share the same ways of life, habits and cuisine, a deep suspicion of outsiders and a certain ancient code of honour, which occupies a significant place in their mentality.