'The Hearth Account' Translated & Annotated by

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic




  1. The Hearth Account

Kabardian text

Long ago, people (Circassians) highly venerated fire because it was very intricate to realize and master. They became accustomed to maintain their fire hearth lit, and avoided the hearth’s blaze to grow fainter. Thus, it developed into a vital fragment of their traditions; it was considered a great misfortune if ones fire hearth faded, inferring that a calamity has plunged upon their household. Until this day, people continue to employ denunciation phrases about such; “May your fire dwindles!”, “May your fire torch dies out!”, “May your hearth be drowned with water”.

One of the evident indications verifying our esteem and awe towards the fire, is evident in some forms of greeting pronounced since ancient times; “May your fires be blessed”. To bless the human’s fire meant for it to be sanctifying and bountiful.

A household who manages to keep their fire hearth lit year round without it fading out, would present a sacrifice in the day the “soul returns” to earth (life). The Firebrand Sacrifice, also known as the “Sacrificial Hen,” is part of widely practiced customs that people are still influenced by and perform to this day. 

The “Souls Return” arrived during a month known as Uejeh Maze (the month of Uejeh), which falls on 22 March according to fiscal calendar. Our people considered this day as the New Year. After the Soul Returns to life and presenting the “firewood sacrifice,” the household would entreat:


“Without our fires dying

Without our hearth growing cold

Without lacking food to poach

Or lacking crops

And with bright blessed fires

May God deliver us until the same day next year.”


Fire veneration did not end with the Firebrand Sacrifice; it further invoked oaths expressing the reflective admiration they held towards the fire: “I swear by the god of this fire!”  Preserving such a custom by our nation only indicate the admiration sentiment humanity perceived the enigmatic blaze.

When a bride first enters her husband’s abode, they used to light her room’s hearth, and named it “The Brides Foundation Fire.” This became an important segment of traditions and customs and retained its vital connotation during seceding eras. The groom’s mother was responsible for lighting the bride’s room hearth, and she would implore the following prayer:

“May your fire never die away, and your hearth remain warm, may your hearth be illuminate, may your crops multiply and may you never be short of chow to boil (on fire) my little one!” the bride would hear her mother-in-law’s prayers, and becomes determined to maintain her hearth without having a single brand fading. She would train herself to keep her hearth at all times glowing with warmth. 

In bygone days, a woman’s conviviality and attentiveness was measured by how well she looked after her home’s fire hearth and its warmth. A woman as such reputed as, “What a wonderful lady-of-the-house she is, she never allowed her fire to dwindle.” Whereas a lethargic woman is described “An indolent housewife she is, allowing her hearth’s fire brand to fade.”

Throughout extended epochs of history, we depended on the luster of fire for light. Then we began selecting the best type of wood brands to provide the best light possible. We still designate a certain type of tree by the term Wezdighe or lamp-tree because this type of tree’s wood was suitable to start a fire with. They also used to use two types of lamps; regular lamps and black lamps. The black lamps affixed into another type of carved wood; hence, it gave out better light. Women used these lamps when they sewed at night. And as an expression of the black lamp preference, the following phrase has survived until this day: “Even if you searched with a black lamp, you will not find him.”


 (Adige ‘Weri’watexer, 1963, Vol.I, p. 84)


Submitted: September 30, 2016

© Copyright 2021 Zaina El-Said. All rights reserved.

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