Adyghe/Circassian bridal costumes (Click to enlarge)
The Circassians (Circassian: Адыгэхэр, Adygekher) are a Northwest Caucasian ethnic group native to Circassia, many of whom were displaced in the course of the Russian conquest of the Caucasus in the 19th century, especially after the Russian–Circassian War in 1864. In its narrowest sense, the term “Circassian” includes the twelve Adyghe (Circassian: Адыгэ, Adyge) tribes (three democratic and nine aristocratic), i.e. Abzakh, Besleney, Bzhedug, Hatuqwai, Kabardian, Mamkhegh, Natukhai, Shapsug, Temirgoy, Ubykh, Yegeruqwai, and Zhaney, each one represented by a star on the green-and-gold Circassian flag.
Most Circassians are Sunni Muslim. The Circassians mainly speak the Circassian language, a Northwest Caucasian language with three main dialects and numerous sub-dialects. Many Circassians also speak Turkish, Russian, English, Arabic, and Hebrew, having been exiled by Russia to lands of the Ottoman Empire, where the majority of them today live. About 800,000 Circassians remain in historical Circassia (modern-day titular Circassian republics of Adygea, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia as well as Krasnodar Krai and the southwestern parts of Stavropol Krai and Rostov Oblast), and others live in the Russian Federation outside these republics and krais.