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This article, which is based on fieldwork carried out 2007–2009 in various regions of Georgia, studies the Islamic circumcision ritual (Turkish sünnet, Azeri sünnǝt, Georgian ts‘inadatsveta) in the Caucasus and neighbouring regions. It specifically focusses on the tradition called Kirvalıq as practised by Azeri Turks in Georgia. This tradition establishes a relation between the boy and a kirva (“godfather”), who holds the boy during the ritual; the relation is understood as being a very close blood relation although the kirva and the boy are technically not related. In fact, the person chosen as kirva by the boy’s parents is often a member of another ethnic and/or religious group. This specific type of Kirvalıq is also found in Eastern Anatolia. We argue that the Kirvalıq serves the purpose of increasing the family’s network ties and thus contributes to the coherence of multiethnic and multireligious communities.


In: Die Welt des Islams