Shete Gulukhaidze

Shete Gulukhaidze story

Shete Gulukhaidze was the son of a humble and poor peasant from Chaghma Valley who was famed as an excellent gunman. One day he had a quarrel with his uncle and killed him. To avoid vendetta from the relatives he and his wife fled to Khevsureti where he soon died. However, his wife Sabeda gave birth to a son and named him Shete. Her desperate position made her return in secret to Tusheti where she lived at her sister's house. However, she died soon leaving her son with his aunt. Shete grew into a strong man and an excellent gunman holding his father's gun. His life was still marked with his father's crime putting him under threat of being killed by the relatives of his granduncle. Nonetheless, the avengers abandoned the blood feud and Shete could freely move around the mountains and hunt. He became a famous hunter recognized in the neighbourhood. Yet he longed for more fame and began to take part in raids to neighbouring Dagestan. He soon gained a reputation of one of the greatest enemies of Didos and people of Dagestan in general. His house was getting filled up with hands he had cut off as trophies of his enemies and even innocent highlanders. He could not fully sustain his family only participating in raids, though. In search of bread he joined the Russian Army in Kakheti where he demanded remuneration for hand trophies from Russian officers.

Apart from the raids in the neighbouring Dido and other Dagestani villages, Shete also participated in defending Tusheti villages, including the legendary defence of Shenako in 1837 (following the destruction and burning of Diklo). This was the fourth of six legendary victories of Shete over the Dagestani people. "There were 70 of us in two towers, 40 of which were old men, women and infants. The day broke. One of the Didos stepped forward and with his mocking voice spoke: "Give us all your women and we shall spare your lives...We may have more women." These words unleashed a fury in me. I approached the window and yelled out: "I am Shete Gulukhaidze, I am here and you have nothing to do here around us but tread down the snow". Then I fired and the shameless giber dropped dead. From that moment my gun would not seize. The Tushs had been being besieged for three weeks already. There was hunger, no water and we were running out of ammunition. The Didos were ready to set the towers on fire and their chief Biga would approach me and yell: "Well, we have you in our trap, you old wolf. We shall roast you like a ram now. And hence I responded: Hey you cub, let me see at least your nose, stick out your finger and you shall see whom you have the honour to be facing. Biga dared stick out his finger. I aimed and fired. First I could hear a short faint cry and then a long loud laughter. I would think I had missed and the scoundrels were jibing me. But it turned out I had shot off Biga's finger and he saw himself being mocked by his own soldiers." Meanwhile, reinforcements came from Kakheti and the Didos had to leave Shenako ashamed.

Shete was hated in Dagestani and Dido villages. The local people used to scare children with his name. A legend says that once a Dido woman could not pacify her child and began to scare him with Shete. By coincidence, Shete was in the village at that time. When the child did not calm down, the mother stuck his head (some stories mention a hand) out of the window and shouted: "Shete, take him". Shete suddenly hopped in and cut off the child's hand and hung it in his house among many other trophies.

At his blessed age Shete still took part in raids to Dagestani villages to steal horses, sheep or cattle. It is said he used to be rewarded by the Russian Government for his service on the frontier.

Based on various legends, Karpov, Yu. Yu.: Vzglyad na gortsev, vzglyad s gor, Saint Petersburg, 2007.

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