New Site + Hiatus

No surprise here, but I’ve been quite inactive on this site for awhile. I’ve made the decision to move to a smaller site for a fresh start, and additionally, I’ll be focusing solely on Vainakh (Chechen and Ingush) names there. I personally feel that it’ll be much more manageable for me given that I’ll only have 2 languages to focus on now, but I may return to this blog for a major clean up when I have more time on my hands. For now, you can find me on or Land of Our People. Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!


Top 50 surnames in Chechnya and their meanings

Listed below are the top 50 surnames in the Republic of Chechnya, Russia. This data was conducted by Forebears in the year 2014 by the frequency of last names within the republic. Surnames listed in their feminine equivalents (-ova/-eva) will be in their regular masculine forms (i.e. ending in -ov/-ev).

Name Rank Language of Usage Cyrillic Meaning
Abubakarov 1 Chechen Абубакаров Of Abubakar (Arabic name meaning “father of the camel”, “father of the early”)
Magomadov 2 Chechen Магомадов Of Magomad (Arabic name meaning “praiseworthy, commendable”)
Khachukaev 3 Chechen Хачукаев Unknown
Bazurkaev 4 Chechen Базуркаев Unknown
Khaytaev 5 Chechen Хайтаев Unknown
Zaytsev 6 Russian Зайцев From the Russian word заяц meaning “hare”
Gaytukaev 7 Chechen Гайтукаев Unknown, possibly Turkic or Mongolic
Bunyaev 8 Russian Буняев Man with vague speech (from a dialectal Russian word meaning “buzz, roar”)
Khazhmuradov 9 Chechen Хажмурадов Of Khazhmurad (Arabic name meaning “pilgrim Murad [wish, desire]”)
Tsotsarov 10 Chechen Цоцаров Unknown
Usumov 11 Chechen Усумов Unknown
Bashtaev 12 Chechen Баштаев Unknown, possibly Arabic origin
Baysuev 13 Chechen Байсуев Unknown
Kadyrov 14 Chechen Кадыров Of Kadyr (Arabic name meaning “powerful, almighty”)
Magomedov 15 Chechen Магомедов Of Magomed (Arabic name meaning “praiseworthy, commendable”)
Aliev 16 Chechen Алиев Of Ali (Arabic name meaning “lofty, exalted”)
Taramov 17 Chechen Тарамов Of Taram (Chechen name for a pre-Islamic Caucasian pagan deity)
Edilov 18 Chechen Эдилов Of Edil (Arabic name meaning “just, fair”)
Elimkhanov 19 Chechen Элимханов Of Elimkhan (Chechen name meaning “scholarly leader”, “learned leader”)


Name Rank Language of Usage Cyrillic Meaning
Khasukhanov 20 Chechen Хасуханов Of Khasukhan (Chechen name meaning “special leader”)
Sakkazov 21 Chechen Сакказов Unknown
Elmurzaev 22 Chechen Эльмурзаев Of Elmurza (Chechen name meaning “prince of the nation” or “prince of God”)
Yakubov 23 Chechen Якубов Of Yakub (Arabic/Hebrew name meaning “heel”)
Ibragimov 24 Chechen Ибрагимов Of Ibragim (Arabic/Hebrew name meaning “father of a multitude”)
Khizriev 25 Chechen Хизриев Of Khizr (Arabic name meaning “green”)
Achkhoevsky 26 Chechen Ачхоевский Unknown, possibly from the name of a village in Chechnya (Achkhoy-Martan)
Buchaev 27 Chechen Бучаев Gentle, soft (from the Chechen word буоча)
Salmanov 28 Chechen Салманов Of Salman (Arabic name meaning “safe”)
Ovcharov 29 Russian Овчаров Possibly from the dialectal Russian nickname Ovchar meaning “sheep” (related to standard Russian овца)
Sivoronov 30 Russian Сиворонов From a nickname literally meaning “grey-black”, referring to someone with dark hair that was greying
Chechensky 31 Chechen Чеченский Means “Chechen (language or person)” in Russian
Bibulatov 32 Chechen Бибулатов Of Bibulat (Turkic name meaning “lord of steel”)
Mukhdanov 33 Chechen Мухданов Unknown
Umarov 34 Chechen Умаров Of Umar (Arabic name meaning “thriving, prospering, living”)
Yusupov 35 Chechen Юсупов Of Yusup (Arabic/Hebrew name meaning “may he add”)
Petrov 36 Russian Петров Of Peter (Greek name meaning “stone”)
Makeev 37 Russian Макеев Of Makey (Russian short form of a Greek name meaning “hammer”)
Batsalgov 38 Chechen Бацалгов Unknown


Name Rank Language of Usage Cyrillic Meaning
Netkachev 39 Russian Неткачев Possibly from a Russian word meaning “unskilled weaver” or of Turkic origin
Taran 40 Russian-Jewish, Ukrainian-Jewish Таран From the Russian word таран meaning “battery ram”
Belogub 41 Russian Белогуб From a Russian nickname meaning “white-lipped”
Takulov 42 Chechen (?), Ossetian Такулов Possibly from a short form of the Greek name Athanasius meaning “immortal”
Vanyagin 43 Russian Ванягин Of Vanya (Russian diminutive of Ivan meaning “God is gracious”)
Veselkov 44 Russian Веселков From a Slavic word meaning “cheerful”
Sadulaev 45 Chechen Садулаев Of Sadula (Arabic name meaning “happiness of God”)
Masaev 46 Chechen Масаев Derived from the Chechen word маса meaning “quick, speedy, fast”
Musaev 47 Chechen Мусаев Of Musa (Arabic/Hebrew name possibly meaning “draw out of the water” or “rescue”)
Tataev 48 Chechen Татаев Possibly from the Chechen word тата meaning “sound, noise”
Saparbiev 49 Chechen Сапарбиев Of Saparbi (Chechen name meaning “lord of journeys”)
Salamonov 50 Russian Саламонов Of Salamon (Hebrew name meaning “peace”)

What do you think of the top surnames in Chechnya? Leave your thoughts and comments down below.


Name of the Week #7

This is well overdue and a bit off from my normal schedule of posting on Mondays, but nevertheless, here is the next name in this series.

And this week’s name is…

Dzerassa (Дзерассæ) 

A feminine Ossetian name of mythological origins.



Dzerassa (Ossetian: Дзерассæ; Russian: Дзерасса); [dʲ͡zʲzʲɪˈrasːə] (Russian IPA)1 is an Ossetian feminine name. The most commonly attested meanings are “golden-haired”2 (most likely a reference to her blonde-coloured hair) or “shining beauty”2, though others such as “earthly beauty”2 or “shining like the sun and moon”2 have also been suggested. The exact etymological root of the name is currently uncertain, though perhaps it could be derived from a short form of Ossetian ‘сыгъзӕрин’ (syǧzærin) meaning “gold”3, following the first explanation of “golden-haired”4. The word in turn is possibly of Indo-Iranian origin, ultimately from the Persian word ‘زر’ (zar) also meaning “gold”5, which in turn is believed to be traced back to the Proto-Indo-European root ǵʰelh₃- approximately meaning “yellow” or “gleam”6 (though this is unconfirmed).



The name is exclusive to the Ossetian language. Though Dzerassa was originally a figure featured in the ‘Nart’ sagas (which comprise the bulk of pre-Abrahamic mythology of most Caucasian ethnicities, including Chechens, Circassians, Abkhaz, etc), she appears to only be a central figure in the Ossetian version of the epic7.



Variants of this name are almost nonexistent outside of Ossetian usage, as Dzerassa is not used as a personal name by any other Caucasian ethnicity. In terms of direct transcription from Ossetian Cyrillic to English, however, the name could also be written as Dzerassæ8, as the Cyrillic letter ӕ corresponds to Latin æ or ae.


Notable Bearers

  • Dzerassa – Usage of this name by Ossetians can be attributed back to the legendary figure Dzerassa in pre-Abrahamic Ossetian mythology. According to legend and the Ossetian version of the ‘Nart’ sagas, Dzerassa is a daughter of the god of the seas and water, Donbettyr or Don-Bettyr (Донбеттыр)7, 9, along with two sisters and seven brothers7. She is occasionally described as a sea turtle10 figure, and her beauty is sometimes compared to that of the Naiads of Greek mythology. She marries Uastyrdzhi9, the patron deity of travelers and men11, and has a daughter named Satanaya9 (who eventually becomes the matriarchal figure of the Narts and the mother of her own hundred sons). With the military hero Akhsartag9, she has twins named Uyryzmag and Khamyts9, who are Satanaya’s half-brothers, along with another son, Syrdon9, who is the Nart trickster god (with Gataga12).

Dzerassa on a Walk (1995), Shalva Bedoev13

  • Dzerassa Mikhailovna Tuganova14 (1929-) – A Soviet actress and animal tamer of Ossetian heritage. She created the circus troupe “Iriston” (Ирыстон; literally “Ossetia”15), which was highly acclaimed in the Soviet Union.



There are no solid popularity statistics on the name, as it seems to have been rare during Soviet times. Little usage has been found in the early 20th century14, 16, though the name seems to have gained more usage in modern times. This can probably be attributed to a revival in interest in the Ossetian native pagan faith (Uatsdin) and pre-Christian mythology beginning in the 1980s17, 18. According to one source, Dzerassa is “at the moment, a fairly common name among Ossetians”7.

Feelings on this radiant name of ancient Ossetian origins? Feel free to comment below, and tell me what names you’d like to see explained!

4 Own personal theory.
10 Elena Kuzmina, The Origin of the Indo-Iranians (pg. 175)

Name of the Week #6

Trying out a different style this week with a more clean-cut format. Please tell me if you prefer this new organisation to the old one or vice versa!

And this week’s name is…

Tseren (Церен, Церн) 

A Kalmyk masculine name of Tibetan origin.


Tseren (Kalmyk, Russian: Церен; Kalmyk: Церн) is a Kalmyk masculine name of Tibetan1 borrowing. It is a from of the Tibetan name Tshering or Tsering (ཚེ་རིང), which literally means “long life”2 or “longevity”3. The Tibetan name itself is formed from the words ‘ཚེ’ (tshe) meaning “life” and ‘རིང’ (ring) meaning “long”3.


In addition to being a Kalmyk name, Tseren (Mongolian Cyrillic: Цэрэн) is also in Mongolia. In Mongolian usage, the name is sometimes used as an element in compound names such as Tserendorj4 (Цэрэндорж) or the Kalmyk variant Tseren-Dorzhi both meaning “diamond of longevity”.


The most notable variants are Tshering and Tsering, which are the original Tibetan forms. The spelling Tsyren (Цырен) is used among the Buryat people of the Republic of Buryatia in Siberia. Tserena (Церена) is the feminine form of the name5.

Notable Bearers

  • Tseren Bazarovich Aduchiev (1919-1990) – Kalmyk narrator and rhapsode who was most famous for his work involving the Kalmyk traditional epic poem ‘Jangar’ (Җаңhар)6.
  • Tseren Ledzhinovich Ledzhinov (1910-1942) – A Kalmyk poet and author who wrote the opera ‘Jirhl’ (Җирhл)7.
  • Tseren Petkievich Petkiev (1877-1967) – Instructor and teacher of Kalmyk ethnicity who organised a Kalmyk language-based school during the rise of Soviet power8.



Popularity of Tseren, 1871-19599*

*Taken from a limited sample of records; does not represent usage of the entire Kalmyk population.

Years by Decade Times Used
1870-1879 6
1880-1889 13
1890-1899 13
1900-1909 17
1910-1919 23
1920-1929 18
1930-1939 20
1940-1949 13
1950-1959 3

The name Tseren seems to have peaked from 1910-1919, but fell out of popular usage by the 1950s. As many modern-day Kalmyks have adopted Russian names, traditional Kalmyk Buddhist names of Tibetan origin are not as favourable nowadays and are considered more “old-fashioned”.

Any thoughts or strong feelings for this “old-timey” Kalmyk name? Leave your opinions in the comments below.


Name of the Week #5

And this week’s name is…


A popular Azerbaijani name from Arabic meaning “bright” or “luminous”.


Artwork depicting the marriage of Fatimah (veiled on the left) to Ali ibn Abi Talib (right) through Fatimah’s father, Muhammad (centre)

Zəhra (Cyrillic: Зәһра); [zæhˈrɑ] is an Azerbaijani name of Arabic origins. It is a form of the name Zahra (زهراء), which is derived from the Arabic word ‘زهرة’ (zuhra) meaning “brilliance, brightness, light”1. The name is ultimately from the Semitic triconsonantal root (through Arabic) ‘ز ه ر’ (z h r) which relates to blossoming, flowers,2 or light. In Islamic tradition, this is one of the epithets of Fatimah3, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad. She is most widely referred to as Fatima az-Zahra (فاطمة الزهراء) meaning “Fatima the Luminous (one)”3, along with many more epithets.

Zəhra continues to rank among the most popular feminine names in Azerbaijan, outranking Nuray as the top name in 2013. Since then, it has secured its spot in first place with Nuray (2072), Zeynəb (1620), and Məryəm (1619) coming in at 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, respectively, in 20174. Interestingly, Fatimə, which has long been affiliated with Zəhra (Fatimə əz-Zəhra5, as the Qur’anic figure is referred to in Azerbaijan), has fallen in ranking, topping off as only the 6th most popular feminine name in 20174. Despite widespread secular attitudes in Azerbaijan (as in Turkey), baby names in the nation continue to remain religiously affiliated6, with traditional ties to Islam maintained.

Popularity of Zəhra in Azerbaijan, 2011-2017

*Since this table was created through a compilation of several different sites, the estimates for the number of times used can vary from source to source. I chose to include all values provided from the sources.

Year Rank Times Used Rank Change
2011 2 3,756-3,375
2012 2 3,921 0
2013 1 3,303-4,269 +1
2014 1 2,970-3,608 0
2015 1 3,016 0
2016 1 3,008 0
2017 1 2,700 0

Thoughts or impressions on this Azerbaijani trend of Islamic names? Leave your opinions below in the comments.

Popularity Chart Sources:


Name of the Week #4

A bit of a shorter one this time, but a new masculine name, nevertheless.

And this week’s name is…


An masculine Avar (Dagestani) name meaning “our hajj”.

Makhach (Avar: МахIач; Russian: Махач, [məxət͡ɕ]1), transcribed as Mahach in Avar, is an Dagestani Avar name of Persian and Arabic origins. It literally means “our hajj”2, comprised of the the Persian word ‘ما’ (mâ) which means “we, us” or “our”3 and the Arabic word ‘حج’ (ḥajj)4 which refers to the hajj, a pilgrimage taken by Muslims to the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia to honour the life of the Prophet Muhammad — it is considered one of the Five Pillars of Islam (أركان الإسلام) along with the the shahada (شهادة; declaration of creed), zakat (زكاة; charity), salah (صلاة; prayer), and sawm (صوم; fasting). The first element is descended from the Middle Persian word amāmeaning “we” or “us”5 (ultimately of Aramaic origin), while the Arabic element is from the Semitic (Arabic) triconsonantal root ‘ح ج ج’ (ḥ j j)4 or Hebrew ‘ח־ג־ג’ (h g g)6 which perhaps denotes a holiday, feast, or celebration6, 7 or means “to circle” or “to go around”6, 7.


Portrait of Makhach Dakhadaev.

The name was most famously adopted by Dagestani revolutionary Magomed-Ali “Makhach” Dakhadaev (1882-1918) who was an ethnic Avar and Marxist Bolshevik8 during the rise of the Soviet Union and its influence in Dagestan. He was executed in 19189. The city of Makhachkala (Avar: МахІачхъала; Russian: Махачкала, [məxət͡ɕkɐˈɫa]), the capital of Dagestan, is named in his honour with the literal meaning of “Makhach’s fort”. It is derived from the name and the Kumyk word ‘къала’ (qala) meaning “fortress, palace”10.

The name, though it has never been particularly common, is occasionally used among Avars today, most likely in Dakhadaev’s honour. There is not enough general usage to determine its popularity overall, though Makhach seems to have been used in the late-19th to early-20th centuries11 with a short revival in the 1980s to early-1990s.