Caucasian collections of MAE total over 1,000 items.
The earliest ones include Caucasian clothing acquired in 1842–44 by a Czech researcher F.A. Kolenati especially for the Kunstkamera, and a costume of a Megrel prince donated to Nicholas I in 1837 and transferred from the Hermitage to MAE in 1899.
In 1903 the MAE received clothing and weapons of Caucasian peoples such as Georgians, Armenians, Azerbaijani, Kurds, Lazians, Tatars, and Circassians. In 1945–46 E.M. Schilling acquired for the MAE wooden utensils, musical instruments, etc., used by peoples of Dagestan (Avars, Baguls, Tindins, and Archins). Other collections from Dagestan were received in 1980–90.
Photographic and illustrative collections owned by the department and totaling more than 1,500 items include many highly informative specimens. One example is Album Showing Houses, Funerary Constructions, Clothing and Jewelry, received in 1902 from Colonel D.A. Vyrubov, who in 1880–90 was Commander of Nal’chik and then Vladikavkaz Regions. Even though no text is provided, the album is a valuable source in that it shows many Central Caucasian (especially Balkarian) monuments which were partly or completely destroyed in later years.
Other materials relate to expeditions to northwestern Caucasus (E.M. Schilling, 1920), Dagestan and highland Georgia (N.G. Sprintsyn, 1926; A.D. Danilin, 1926; L.B. Panek, 1928; and L.I. Lavrov, 1950). In the early 1980s Yu.Yu. Karpov and A.I. Azarov recorded a unique festival celebrated each year in just one hard-to-reach Dagestanian village, Shaitli. In 2002 Yu.M. Botyakov made a video recording of a wedding ceremony in the Dagestanian village of Bezhta.
In 1978, a catalogue of Caucasian ethnographic collections was published:
- Ravdonikas T.D., Smirnova L.I. Katalog po narodam Kavkaza [Catalogue of Caucasian Collections] // Material’naya kul’tura I khozyaistvo narodov Kavkaza, Srednei Azii i Kazakhstana (Sbornik MAE. Vol. XXXIV). Leningrad: Nauka. 1978. P. 182–220.