a term derived from the Turkic Cherkess (Çerkes), and is not the self-designation of any people. It has sometimes been applied indiscriminately to all the peoples of the North Caucasus. Most specifically, the term can apply only to the Adyghe people. Today a significant number of "Circassians" live in diaspora, primarily due to the Muhajirism, an exodus of Muslim population from the Caucasus since 1864 after the successful Russian invasion of the Caucasus.
The term's vagueness stems largely from the fact that the northern Caucasus was a remote and relatively unknown area for Westerners and Turks, who often did not distinguish carefully between similar groups living there.
"And likewise, the Circassian braves, the dashing young mountaineers, trained themselves to an extraordinary stamina. They were, by breed, a slim wiry lot, generally considered the world's most handsome people; tall, white, eagle-faced, with narrow, beautifully formed hands and feet, and wasp-waists. Over all, they had an indefinable air of elegance - of breeding. They ate very sparingly, as a race, but the fighting men ate least of all." -The Sabres of Paradise, by Lesley Blanch
In 1856 The New York Daily Times reported that a consequence of the Russian conquest of the Caucasus was an excess of beautiful Circassian women on the Constantinople slave market, and that this was causing prices of slaves in general to plummet. At the time, this region was reputed by less reliable sources to be the source of the purest Caucasian stock, producing the most beautiful white women, prized in Turkish harems. The combination of the popular issues of slavery, the Orient, and sexual titillation gave this report some notoriety at the time. Circus leader P. T. Barnum capitalized on this interest, displaying a "Circassian Beauty" at his American Museum in 1865. The trend spread, with supposedly Circassian women featured in dime museums and travelling medicine shows, sometimes known as "Moss-haired girls". Most likely these were local girls hired by the shows.
Circassian girls are the most beautiful girls alive.