Join Date: Dec 2004
I have no objections to Ariel's citations - indeed when reading ancient and not so ancient sources one finds rather generalized depictions of nations. I'm not the most very sensitive man. There are two points I would like to emphasize here. Laz is a western georgian subethnicity. Laz language is very similar to megrelian (margali). As all western georgian kingdoms, Trabzon empire was founded under the heavy influence and colonization of greeks. During its existance it declared its origins to be the roman empire, and therefore was often called the same way everyone from Greece to Anatolia was called now and then - awlad-al Rum, Rumla etc.
Concerning the military capabilities they were recruited into mamluk core, in less numbers than megrels per se, but mostly due to the fact that megrels paid tributes in slaves to surrounding muslim kingdoms and their princes, Dadiani were known for pathological cruelty and slave trade. However, Laz traditionally have been recruited by Ottoman navy.
There are 4 georgian tribes that fell under the rule of islamic - mesh', laz, fedaryn (captives in iran) and parts of adjars. Laz have been the first, and they are the most islamized and assilimilated (turkisized) nation. Today most of them identify themselves as turks.
Concerning "deception and evil". Among some people (in particular eastern georgians), megrels in general are called ... "jews". The perception is that they are smarter than neighbors and traditionally, rather than joining up cavalry units, they act as spies, informants, torturers and assasins. Late Beria was a megrel (even through Stalin preferred Guria), and so were many of middleeastern dictators - Ali-Bey, Ibrahim-Bey, Murad-Bey. Among megrels themselves such depiction oftenly is not considered to be something shameful, despite two other things to which they traditionally tie themselves - mamluk service and the navy.
Concerning Laz I did hear such depictions indeed. I also heard (in masses) anecdotes about Laz in which they were portrayd as a nation of mafia, song-writing and dumbness. Laz themselves, on the contrary, often believe to possess superior bravery and viciousness in comparison with turks.
If you want my personal view, these generalized depictions have really not much to do with the reality, but knowing them in the historical context can be rather interesting, since in old times jobs were given to people based on perception of their race, rather than on individual abilities (and btw this did not change much).