The ancient traditions and the call of the ancestors are the forces that drive some populations to stay connected to inhospitable places, which they perceive as part of their group identity. The seasonal return to these remote areas, is a return to tradition, a rediscovery of their roots and a way to defend their identity against the passing time and modernity.
All this happens in Tusheti, an historic region of Georgia. This area is dotted with small remote villages where only few people live nowadays due to the difficult living conditions. The inaccessibility of the land preserved the mysterious atmosphere of the place, which seems not to be touched by modern conveniences: here electricity is a scarce and valuable good as well as running water in the houses.
Due to the tough living conditions of this place, a semi-nomadic lifestyle has developed. Many Tush families began to move southwards from Tusheti during the first half of the nineteenth century and settled in the low-lying fields of Alvani, at the western end of Kakheti. Nevertheless every summer many of these families still go back with their flocks of sheep high up in the mountains, to the old villages to pay homage to their ancestors and to celebrate their traditions passing them across generations. They fight against modernization and even literally against invaders from neighboring regions to preserve their unique heritage.
The population of the area is called Tushs or Tushetians and it is considered a subgroup of Georgians. Although they are Orthodox Christian, their culture has retained elements of Georgia’s pre-Christian beliefs and pagan practices still persist.
Their land is on the northern slopes of the greater Caucasus mountains, bordered by the Russian republics of Chechnya and Dagestan. Only in these areas they can celebrate their sacred animist rituals that strengthen the bonds between people, define their roles in the society and consolidate the union between them and nature.