Wednesday, October 11, 2017

History and origin of Azerbaijani manat

(Article was originally published in Science and Applied Engineering Quarterly Journal, 2017, 13(3), ISSN 2054 - 2763)

    Manat is a name for the national currencies of Azerbaijan (since 1918), Turkmenistan (since 1993), Georgia (1918–1923), North Caucasian Emirate (modern Dagestan-Chechnia-Ingushetia, 1919–1920), and Provisional National Government of the Southwestern Caucasus (1918–1919). Manat was also the designation name for the Soviet ruble in Azerbaijani, Turkmen and Georgian languages. Azerbaijani manat is subdivided into 100 qapik. 

     According to Wikipedia the origin of word ‘manat, is in a Russian word ‘moneta’ (монета), which is a loan word from Latin ‘moneta’. It might seem a plausible explanation, but it has serious flaws. Georgians and Azerbaijanis and Turkmens have numerous names for currencies and coins, and they all used to mint own coins prior becoming part of the Russian Empire, and then Soviet Union. The old Georgian coins had names such as ‘dinar’ and ‘abazi’. ‘Abazi’ is equivalent to the Azerbaijani ‘abassi’, the coin launched during the reign of Safavi Shah Abbas I and then minted by the Azerbaijani khanates. The word money, or ‘moneta’ means ‘puli’ (ფული) in Georgian and ‘pul’ in Azerbaijani, and it also used to be the smallest coin (copper) of Golden Horde. Assumption that ‘manat’ came into the Azerbaijani language from Georgian ‘maneti’ (მანეთი) through the Russian word ‘moneta’ is unlikely, because its Azerbaijani transcription ‘mánet’ would have been written as ‘mant’ (مانث) in Old Azerbaijani Script (form of Arabic Script). And it is absolutely different to the original ‘mnat’ (منات), where the first ‘a’ is omitted. Besides, Georgians themselves call ‘manat’ as ‘manati’, which is similar to ‘maneti’.

     Azerbaijanis have a long history of using 'manat' to indicate the paper money. The first example, when the term ‘manat’ is mentioned it is in Gulistani-Iram by Abbasgulu Bakikhanov (1794–1847):

…Irakly Khan [King Irakly] of Georgia in order to protect his territories from him [Umma-Khan of Avaria] agreed to pay annually 5000 manat in silver.

     Another Azerbaijani great poet Mirza Alakbar Sabir (1862–1911) also provides detail about ‘manat’ in his masterpiece Hohopname (1906–1911):

…Mən anlamıram kim, nola mənayi-müəllim? Qırx-əlli manat pul ala hər ay müəllim?

     Here, in his poem ‘Vay, Vay! Nə Yaman Müşkülə Düşdü İşim, Allah! he questions how a teacher can survive on small salary of 40–50 ‘manat’. Those are all evidence of the word ‘manat’ being used in Azerbaijan prior 1918 when it was first mention on The bon of Transcaucasian Commissariat, and latter when it became a national currency of first Azerbaijan republic.

     The archaic meaning of Azerbaijani ‘manat’ was a rectangular piece of paper (notes from bank or goldsmith), used as draft to exchange for silver or gold coins. The practice of issuing a draft was known to the Azerbaijani traders for a quite while even before Russia annexed Azerbaijan in 1813 (Treaty of Gulistan). It was done along with the Islamic financial judiciary system. The word ‘manat’ is closely related to the word ‘amanat’, which translates as a deposit, savings and treasure in Azerbaijani. According to Redhouse's Ottoman Turkish Dictionary ‘amanat’ which means ‘anything placed in trust, either to be returned to the giver, or be given to a third party’ is written as ‘amant’(امانت), here the last ‘a’ is omitted.

Azerbaijani manat
Figure 1The 1 manat (منات in red square) worth coupons issued at the Alat grocery shop of Julfa-Baku railway issued circa 1918.
Azerbaijani manat
Figure 2The 1 qapik (قپک in red square) worth coupons issued at the Alat grocery shop of Julfa-Baku railway issued circa 1918.
     Although, Azerbaijanis did not have a paper currency but they did use foreign paper currencies except Ottoman Turkish and Persian. The modern banking system did not exist in Persia prior 1889, when the Imperial Bank of Persia was found by the English businessman Paul Reuter. The Imperial Bank of Persia issued the first paper banknotes in 1906. The Ottoman Bank was founded 1856 also by a venture of the English and French capitals. The Russian did not have currency in form of ruble as we know. The first Russian money were called ‘bilet’ (draft), and they could have been exchanged for certain amount of silver or gold coins upon demand, which is in some form entrusting gold and silver money to the state for some time and then claiming it back. Neither Persians nor Ottomans did have a translation or a designated word for Russian ruble, or used the word ‘manat’ with the respect to the financial exchange. There is no reference to the Russian ruble in the English-Persian dictionaries issued prior 1918 or English-Turkish issued prior 1918. Although, the Persians  did have a word ‘manat’, but it was written differently (مناط) to the Azerbaijani ‘manat’, and it actually meant a distance; another definition (مناة) also written differently to Azerbaijani ‘manat’ was a one weight of two pounds [weight]. 

Draft of Russian Empire
Figure 3The Draft of Russian Empire issued before XIX century which resembles ‘amanat’.
     When the first time manat went into circulation it was as the Bon of Transcaucasian Commissariat (22 April – 28 May 1918). The bond was issues on four languages Azerbaijani, Georgian, Russian and Armenian. The denominations were 1, 3, 5, 10, 50, 100, 250 manat. The bon had an inscription on it on four languages saying ‘the Bon of  Transcaucasian Commissariat accepted into circulation along with the state credit notes’. This bon had the exactly the same meaning like any currency issued at that time, it was an obligation by the government to return bearer a specific amount on demand. The bon became a transitional financial instrument between the promissory note and the banknotes The Bon of Transcaucasian Commissariat is a precursor of the banknotes to the first Azerbaijani banknotes (‘əskinas’ in Azerbaijani). A bon is different to a bond (‘istiqraz’ in Azerbaijani), which another financial tool.

Bon of Transcaucasian Commissariat
Figure 4The bon of Transcaucasian Commissariat worth 1 manat (منات in red square) issued in 1918.
     The Georgian word ‘maneti’ (მანეთი) on the Bon of Transcaucasian Commissariat is almost exactly the same as Azerbaijani ‘manat’. The Armenian side shows the word ‘ruble’ written in the Armenian script. Although, Georgians did not have a problem using a term ‘manat’ for their national currency, but the Armenians did. So they decided to stick with the term ‘ruble’ (present Armenian currency is called dram, which is derived from drachma).

     Since the moment ‘manat’ became a currency of the first Azerbaijan republic, the official exchange rate is required to conduct financial transactions and exchange of goods. At that time Azerbaijani ‘manat’ was pegged to the Russian ‘ruble’. One crucial difference, all international currencies have plural nouns, such as one dollar, two dollars, where manat is always used in singular form, like one manat (bir manat), two manat (iki manat), etc. If you look carefully on the banknote of the first Azerbaijan Republic, you see the Russian 500 ‘rubles’ (plural) on the left hand side of the banknote (Cyrillic is written from left to right), and Azerbaijani 500 ‘manat’ (singular) on the right hand side of the banknote (Arabic script is written from right to left). In such way, a new democratic republic wanted to make sure that a new currency is fully accepted by all Russian and Azerbaijani speaking layers of the society.

Azerbaijani manat
Figure 5The 500 manat (منات in red squareof first Azerbaijan republic issued between 1918–1920.
     The name ‘manat’ also appears on the note of the North-Caucasian Emirate (1919-1920). As you can see on the picture the Turkish word ‘kurush’ (قروش) and Russian ruble appear on the left side just below 100, and the Azerbaijani word ‘manat’ (منات) on the opposite side. Once again, Wikipedia mistakenly states that the official currency of North-Caucasian Emirate was ruble, where the Arabic script precisely shows both on front and back that it was 'manat'. Unlike the Azerbaijani manat, the North-Caucasian Emirate 'manat' was pegged both to the Turkish 'kurush' and the Russian 'ruble'.

Draft of North Caucasian Emirate (Dagestan-Chechnia-Ingushetia)
Figure 6The Draft of North-Caucasian Emirate worth 100 manat (منات in red square) issued in 1919.
     The British (TransCaspian) military mission, based in Ashgabat (Turkmenistan) only lasted from 1918 till July 1919, with a head of mission being Major-General Wilfrid Malleson. The draft issued in January 4, 1919 and certified by MG W.Mallerosn states: ‘On behalf of the British Government I promise to repay in rubles notes on or before the end of six months the sum of FIVE HUNDRED ROUBLES’. At the bottom left corner you can see 500 ‘manat’ written in the Arabic script. This draft is a prototype of the current Turkmenistan manat.

Draft of British (TransCaspian) Military Mission
Figure 7The Draft of British (TransCaspian) Military Mission worth 500 manat (منات in red square) issued in 1919.
     From there on the word ‘manat’ was designated specifically for the Azerbaijani currency, and it was not a translation of the Russian word ‘ruble’. Because, the USSR ‘ruble’ issued in 1923 does not have its Azerbaijani equivalent name ‘manat’. The ruble is given by its name only in the Arabic script (روبلی). The word ‘manat’ was introduced on the USSR ruble much later.

USSR ruble
Figure 8. The USSR ruble issued in 1923 (front and back), Ruble in Arabic Script (روبلی in red square).
     It is established that ‘manat’ have an initial purpose of draft, rather the currency. It was a convenient way to keep and carrier a cash, without being afraid of getting robbed or loosing the bag of coins. A draft could have been change for a specified amount of silver and gold coins in nearest bank or post office, if it is small town. Now, we are going to look at the origin of the word ‘manat’. Even if the purpose of manat was depositing gold and silver coins, however, the word ’manat’ in the Old Azerbaijani Script is written  differently than ‘amanat’.

     The second meaning of ‘manat’ is related to a pre-Islamic context. The name of goddess Al-Manat is mentioned in Quran and the Book of Idols (Kitab Al-Asnam) as the one of three chief goddesses of Mecca and Medina, along with Al-Lat and Al-Uzza. She is was considered a guardian of Black Stone in Kaaba. Her name is associated with the ancient Egyptian goddess Manat. She worn a protective amulet in the form of a metallic disc called ‘manat’ which symbolizes fortune, luck and fertility. Manat is also title given the ancient Sumerian goddess Ishtar. It should be note that Azerbaijani version on name ‘Manat’ (منات) in Old Script is different to Arabic version and Persian (مناة) before 1918. Although, there is Roman goddess Juno Moneta but her story is quite irrelevant in this case, since Koranic text had much more bigger impact on the Azerbaijani that the Roman story.

     But how the female goddess Manat is related to the paper money?

     The Bank of England was established in 1694 to raise money for King William III’s war against France. Like the goldsmiths’ notes – means of exchange, the Bank of England notes were the promise to pay the bearer the sum of the note on demand. From 1725 the Bank was issuing partly printed notes for completion in manuscript. The first fully printed the Bank of England notes appeared in 1853 relieving the cashiers of the task of filling in the name of the payee and signing each note individually. During all this time they were putting the image of Britannia (female) on all notes issued by Bank of England. According to Bank of England, the tradition of using Britannia goes back to 1662 when Charles II appointed John Roettier, a Flemish engrave, to the Mint.

     Since then British banknotes have had an image of Britannia as some goddess. The similar tradition of using female image can be observed on French frank (Marianne), US dollar (Columbia) and German mark, and Russian ruble. So it was natural for the Azerbaijani Muslim traders to call that female image on note by name of Koranic Manat (منات). Sometimes those images were issued along the pictures of reigning monarch, like Queen Victoria in UK and Ekaterina II in Russia. Obviously, the term stuck with the paper money and it was continued to be used as reference to the paper money and Russian ruble in particularly until 1918, when ‘manat’ became the national currency of the first Azerbaijan republic.

Origin of word manat
Figure 9. The female images seen as Koranic Goddess Manat (منات) by Azerbaijanis on British pound, German mark, Russian ruble.
     Qapik, or ‘qəpik’ (قپک) as it is known in Azerbaijani, can trace its origin back to Kebek Khan (1318–1326), a ruler of Chagatai Khanate who introduced ‘kebek dinar’ as a result of the financial reform. He introduced a much simpler and standardized financial system to control minting in his realm. So, 1 ‘kebek dinar’ (6.0g of silver) was equal to 6 dirhams (1.0g of silver). The similar system was used by Timur Khan (1326–1405), who introduced 1 tengi (4.8g of silver) which was equal 6 ‘kebek’ (0.8g of silver). And those ‘kebek’ were the exactly the same ‘qapik’ we know. Although, the Chagatai Khanate did not stretch till Caucases, but the Timurid Empire did. And after that Aq-Qoyunlu and Kara Koyunlu used the same monetary system across their empires.

     The Timurid Empire was very vast and powerful, it defeated the Golden Horde and took a campaign against the Russian lands. Although, the Golden Horde used own currencies such as ‘tengi’, ‘altyn’ (means ‘the sixth part’ in the Common Turkic) and ‘pul’, the impact from trade with the Central Asia for less developed Russian lands was massive. Arbat district of Moscow probably was the heart of the financial influx. So the idea that the Russian ‘копейка’ have its origin in ‘spear’ is pure speculation and is not backed by any substantial historical sources.

     The reader might have a genuine question where the number six is stands in this old financial monetary system? Wikipedia tells story about Mycenaean using verb ‘drassomai’ to define grip. The six nails (‘obol’ in Ancient Greek) in one hand meant drachma, which became the currency of Ancient Lydia, Greece and Macedonia. It should be noted that one ‘drachma’ contained six ‘obol’, ‘obol’ was also the measure of weight and in the Ancient Greece it was equal to 0.72 grams. Considering the spread of the Empire of Alexander the Great, it will be normal to think that 6 (six) became such an important element of the trade and finance to measure and exchange goods. This story might seem plausible, but it has one crucial flaw the number of nails one hand can hold strictly depends on the diameter of the nail and size of the hand. Besides, the Mycenaean number system, just like the Ancient Egyptian, was based on 10, and the Ancient Greek (Attic) was based on 5 (quintal). Therefore, that story could have been a great bed time story, but it can not be used as the logical explanation why number six was used so extensively in the monetary system.

     Before the Ancient Greeks, the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, such as Sumerian and Babylonian, used the sexagesimal (based on 60) numeral system. The number 60 is still used as units of time and angle (60 seconds, 60 minutes, 360º=6x60 in circle) because of them. The number 60 is a superior highly composite number, having factors of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 20, 30, 60, facilitating the operations with fractions. Now, the a superior highly composite number is a natural number which has more divisors than any other number scaled relative to some power of that number. The first four superior highly composite numbers are 2, 6, 12, 60. So six is the basic superior highly composite number. The way number six is depicted in Sumerian and Babylonian cuneiform tables, it resembles nails. If we look carefully we will see that 1 is shown as one nail, 2 as two nails, and finally 6 as six nails. Now, we can draw a parallel between Ancient Greek ‘obol’ and Mesopotamian cuneiform for six. Let’s not forget that Sumerian and Babylonians invented abacus, the useful tool for doing basic calculations, which were also based on the sexagesimal number system. This number system were used as base for measuring weights, area, volume and lengths. And since the ancient coins were made primary of gold and silver, the precision and minimal error was paramount, and the expertise in doing those weighing and calculations were crucial.

     Manat went through the oppression of Stalin’s dictatorship to become a national currency of Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. Knowing what it means gives a sense of pride in history and traditions of our financial and monetary systems, which can be traced back to the ancient civilizations. 

     Since the second independent Azerbaijan Republic, the Central Bank of Azerbaijan was an important institution in securing the trust in future of that currency. There were made important artistic contributions like by the Austrian artist Robert Kalina, who designed the current symbol of manat , and the series of 2006. The Azerbaijani Manat is an important financial instrument for the Caucasus region, the guarantor of its financial stability and progress, a beacon of civilization.


Reference

1. The bon issued in the Russian Empire [http://www.fox-notes.ru/z_rus_chastnik/aljat_16927.htm]
3. The President library. Administrative Department of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan [http://files.preslib.az/projects/remz/pdf_en/atr_pullar.pdf]
4. The Catalogue of Banknotes of Azerbaijan Republic 1919-1920 [http://www.fox-notes.ru/img_rus/k8_6_azer.htm]
5. The History of the National Currency, Central Bank of Azerbaijan Republic [https://www.cbar.az/pages/national-currency/history-of-the-national-currency/]
6. A Brief history of banknotes. Bank of England [http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/banknotes/Pages/about/history.aspx]
7. Britannia and Bank, 1694–1961. Bank of England [http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/archive/Documents/history/britannia.pdf]
8. History of History of Civilizations of Central Asia, Volume 4 [http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0011/001116/111664eo.pdf]

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Caspian Cross

Ancient Caspian Cross of Azerbaijan

Caspian Cross (Caucasian Albania - Azerbaijan)
Caspian Cross (Azerbaijan)
Introduction. The original name of Azerbaijan (for both North and South) was Caspiane according to Strabo (book 11, chapter 2, section 15), which is also referred to Caspian Mountains (Caucasian Mountains) and Caspian Sea: "According to Eratosthenes, the Caucasus is called "Caspius" by the natives, the name being derived perhaps from the 'Caspii'". Subsequent invasions, split Caspiane into two distinctive entities Atropatene in south, and later Caucasian Albania in north. Then Caspiane became a little province along the Caspian shores, which later was incorporated into Caucasian Albania, also known as Arran in some sources.

The Caspians are also known in history as Kaspi, Kasi, Kassi or Kassites. They first appeared in the annals of history in the 18th century BC when they attacked Babylonia. Kassites (Caspians) founded the Dynasty of the Sealand of the ancient Sumer, the longest ruling dynasty in the history of Mesopotamia (1531-1155BC).

The Caspians were excellent sea explorers and from Gobustan petroglyphs we can see the shape of their boats. Aramaic papyri from Egypt, and Herodotus (3.93.2) mentioned the Caspians as far as Egypt in the west, and Pamir Mountains in the east.


The ancient Caspian Cross ("Kaspi xaçı" in Azerbaijani) was officially introduced in 313AD as a symbol of the kingdom and the church. King Arran was a founder of the Kingdom of Caucasian Albania according to Latin sources. The cross itself represent the greek, sometimes latin, cross with the oriental flour-de-lis at its ends, which represents a fire or a flame, it is a common symbol for Azerbaijan and the present city symbol of Baku.  The cross above is the Caspian Cross as it is seen in the Round Temple, Shaki (Azerbaijan). There are also in Kish, Nij and other places across Azerbaijan, Tatev Monastery in Syunik, Armenia. All these churches are the part of the Church of Caucasian Albania (Azerbaijan) which used to head quartered in Gandzasar Monastery (presently territory occupied by Armenia), or Gəncəsər Kafedralı (Cathedral) as it is known in Azerbaijani.

Kish, Hij (Azerbaijan)
Kish, Hij (Azerbaijan)
Caspian Cross

Gandzasar Cathedral

Caspian Cross

Caspian Cross

Caspian Cross can also be observed on the walls of Kara Kilise, or Qara Kilsə in Azerbaijani, of West Azerbaijan province of Iran. Kara Kilise is also known as The Monastery of Saint Thaddeus.




In some places across South Caucasus, the Ancient Caspian Cross as well as churches and monasteries were vandalized by the Armenian inscriptions as a result of the forceful amalgamation of the Church of Caucasian Albania into the Armenian Church.

Caspian Cross

Here is another example of Caspian Cross being vandalized by the Armenian inscriptions, but this time in the side wall of Saint Stepanos Monastery, East Azerbaijan province of Iran.


On the picture below, you can see Caspian Cross of the top of Saint Stepanos Monastery, East Azerbaijan province of Iran, with the  outside walls being vandalized by the Armenian inscriptions.


The oriental flour-de-lis from the Caspian Cross can also be seen on the Azerbaijani muslim grave stones in Yeddi Gumbez Mausoleum, Shemakhi (Azerbaijan). This proves the cultural continuity among Azerbaijanis regardless their present religious believes.


Church. Church of Caucasian Albania is is an Autocephalous Orthodox Church and was first established by the Holy Apostle Bartholomew in Baku; and then by St. Elisha in the village of Kish, north of Azerbaijan. Upon the end of Russian-Iran War (1826-1828),  Tsar Nicolas I of Russia signed "The Decree on managing the affairs of the Armenian-Gregorian Church in Russia" ("Положение о управлении делами Армяно-Григорианской церкви в России") in 1836, which set the start for the amalgamation of the Church of Caucasian Albania and its properties into the newly formed Armenian Church (the institution as we know now) and subsequently turning the Armenian-Grigorian Church itself into the Orthodox Church with the head quarter in Etchmiadzin, also known as Üçkilsə or Üçmüəzzin in Azerbaijani. Armenians first appeared in North Mesopotamia after the expansion of the Achaemenid Empire. They were originally one of the Persian tribes which were placed to weaken the Assyrian power and influence in the region. During the Roman and Parthian empires, two agreed to create a buffer state, Kingdom of Armenia, on the mutual border in Northern Mesopotamia to prevent further confrontations between each other. The Parthian noble family of Artaxiad were instated as the puppet ruler of the new kingdom, meanwhile the kingdom itself became a vassal state of Rome. The territorial expansion of Kingdom of Armenia, claimed by the Armenian historians, actually were made by the Roman legionaries on behalf of Rome and for the Roman glory. The Roman stone inscription "Legio XII Fulminata", carved between 84 and 96 A.D in Gobustan (Azerbaijan) is clear evidence to that.

The Church of Caucasian Albania was re-established in Azerbaijan in 2003 as the Church of Caucasian Albania-Udi. In 2013 during 1700th anniversary of establishing Christianity in Azerbaijan, the grand opening of the Church of Arran took place in the village of Nij.

Caspian Cross

Art. The Caspian Cross was adopted by the Order of Calatrava (a Spanish military order from Castile) in 1164, and Patek Philippe and Co. (Swiss luxury watch manufacturer) was using it as a company logo since 1851.
Caspian Cross
Caspian Cross

More derivative variations of the Caspian Cross as an art abstract used in the textile, furniture and decoration in general.
Caspian Cross

Caspian Cross

Some organizations or individuals try to present Caspian Cross as Armenian Cross, although two are completely different. Shutterstock.com wrongly have a) Caspian Cross being distributed as b) Armenian Cross.


Eparchies of The Church

1. Caspiana (North East, East, South-East, South, Center)

  • Chola
  • Lpiniya
  • Kabala
  • Ejeri

2. Utik (North, North West)

  • Hereti
  • Kambisena
  • Gardman
  • Sakasena

3. Arsak (South-West)

  • Sisakan

4. Syunik (West)

  • Gohtan


The heads of The Church

  • St. Bartholomew
  • St. Elisha
  • Matthew
  • Isaac
  • Karen
  • Pandas
  • Lazarus
  • St. Grigoris
  • Zachary
  • David
  • John
  • Jeremiah (circa 434)


List of Catholicoses

  • Abas (551-595)
  • Viro (595-629)
  • Zachary I (629-644)
  • John I (644-671)
  • Uhtanes (671-683)
  • Eleazar (683-689)
  • Nerses I (689-706)
  • Simeon I (706-707)
  • Michael (707-744)
  • Anastasius I (744-748)
  • Joseph I (Hovsep) (748-765)
  • David I (765-769)
  • David II (769-778)
  • Matthew I (778-779)
  • Moses I (779-781)
  • Aaron (781-784)
  • Solomon I (784)
  • Theodore (784-788)
  • Solomon II (788-789)
  • John II (Hovhannes) (799-824)
  • Moses II (824)
  • David III (824-852)
  • Joseph II (852-877)
  • Samuel (877-894)
  • Hovnan (894-902)
  • Simeon II (902-923)
  • David IV (923-929)
  • Isaac (Sahag) (929-947)
  • Gagik (947-958)
  • David V (958-965)
  • David VI (965-971)
  • Peter I (971-987)
  • Moses III (987-993)
  • Mark, Joseph III, Mark, Stephen I (from 993 to 1079)
  • John III (1079-1121)
  • Stephen II (1129-1131)
  • Gregory I (circa 1139)
  • Bezhgen (circa 1140)
  • Nerses II (1149-1155)
  • Stephan III (1155-1195)
  • John IV (1195-1235)
  • Nerses III (1235-1262)
  • Stephen IV (1262-1323)
  • Sukyan and Peter II (circa 1323-1331)
  • Zachariah II (ok.1331)
  • David VII
  • Karapet (1402-1420)
  • John V (circa 1426-1428)
  • Matthew II (circa 1434)
  • Athanasius II, Gregory II and John VI (1441-1470)
  • Azaria
  • Thomas (circa 1471)
  • Aristakes I
  • Stephen V (circa 1476)
  • Nerses IV (circa 1478)
  • Shmavon I (circa 1481)
  • Arakel (1481-1497)
  • Matthew III (ok.1488)
  • Aristakes II (1515-circa 1516)
  • Sergius (Sarkis) I (circa 1554)
  • Gregory III (circa 1559-1574)
  • Peter III (1571)
  • David VIII (circa 1573)
  • Philip
  • John VII (1574-1584)
  • David IX (circa 1584)
  • Anastasius II (circa 1585)
  • Shmavon II (1586-1611)
  • Aristakes III Kolataktsi (circa 1588)
  • Melkiset Arashetsi (circa 1593)
  • Simeon III (circa 1616)
  • Peter IV Hondzaksky (1653-1675)
  • Simeon IV Hotorashensky (1675-1701)
  • Jeremiah Hasan Jalal (1676-1700)
  • Isaiah Hasan Jalal (1702-1728)
  • Nerses V (1706-1736)
  • Israel (1728-1763)
  • Nerses VI (1763)
  • John VIII Gandzasar (1763-1786)
  • Simeon V Hotorashenksky (1794-1810)
  • Sergius II Gandzasar (1810-1828, with title of metropolitan after 1815)

Etymology of name Azerbaijan. There are a lot of theories about the origin of name Azerbaijan and one of most popular among historian is the story of Atropates (greek Aτρoπάτης, parthian Aturpat). The story states that after the death of King Alexander of Macedonia his admirals split the whole kingdom, and Atropates received Mannea and Media. The story also says that the whole region got its name after this man. So Aturpatakan turned gradually Aderbaigan, and then Azerbaijan. So most historic researchers jumped into conclusion trying to join two names Atropates (Aturpat) and Aturpatakan and looking for links with the modern name Azerbaijan.

In Hebrew Azar means help (military), ally. For instance, Azarel means "God is helper". Very common name in Bible. Assyrians refer to the land on the east border of Assyria as As/Az, here is the name Asia. There were also confederation of tribes around the lake Urmia named as Assa. In modern Azerbaijani the word Azer means great and powerful. That is supported by Oguzname where the translation of Azerbaijan is given as the Land of Great/Powerful. The ancient Norwegian Sagas about Odin and the Viking origin states the Odin with his people Asir/Azer left Turkland and came across Europe to Saxon, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. And the apparent original land of Asir is modern Azerbaijan.

It is obvious that name Azerbaijan has ancient roots, and it goes beyond Atropates and the first Arians who came into Caucasus only around 5-6 B.D.

Alphabet. There were 26 ethnicities in Caucasian Albania according to Moses of Kalankatuyk. All of them could be separated into three major linguistic groups: Turkic, Caucasian, Iranian languages. The  alphabet of Caucasian Alphabet was known to have 54 letters. There is an evidence that the Greek alphabet was used among Turkic Christians. Those ones due to an oppression from the Armenians (non-orthodox christians), Arabs and Mongols, those Turkic speaking christians migrated from Azerbaijan to Cappadocia and formed the Karamanli community, the Karamanlides. The Greek alphabet for writing Turkic is called Karamanlidika (Καραμανλήδικα / Καραμανλήδεια γραφή). Example, Bardanes Tourkos (Βαρδάνης ὁ Τοῦρκος) was a Byzantine general of the Turkic origin who launched an unsuccessful rebellion against Emperor Nikephoros I (r. 802–811) in 803. His name shows that he was baptized, and of the Turkic origin. Another example, Tauri and Bulgars, Gagauzians and Urumians are also another example of the Orthodox Christians of the Turkic origin from the Black Sea basin who used the Greek alphabet.

The Latin script is an official alphabet of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

"Our Father" Prayer in Old Turkic: Atamız kim köktesiñ. Alğışlı bolsun seniñ atıñ, kelsin seniñ xanlığıñ, bolsun seniñ tilemekiñ – neçikkim kökte, alay [da] yerde. Kündeki ötmegimizni bizge bugün bergil. Dağı yazuqlarımıznı bizge boşatqıl – neçik biz boşatırbiz bizge yaman etkenlerge. Dağı yekniñ sınamaqına bizni quurmağıl. Basa barça yamandan bizni qutxarğıl.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Каспийский Крест

Ancient Caspian Cross of Azerbaijan

Caspian Cross (Caucasian Albania - Azerbaijan)
Caspian Cross (Azerbaijan)
Introduction. The original name of Azerbaijan (for both North and South) was Caspiane according to Strabo (book 11, chapter 2, section 15), which is also referred to Caspian Mountains (Caucasian Mountains) and Caspian Sea: "According to Eratosthenes, the Caucasus is called "Caspius" by the natives, the name being derived perhaps from the 'Caspii'". Subsequent invasions, split Caspiane into two distinctive entities Atropatene in south, and later Caucasian Albania in north. Then Caspiane became a little province along the Caspian shores, which later was incorporated into Caucasian Albania, also known as Arran in some sources.

The Caspians are also known in history as Kaspi, Kasi, Kassi or Kassites. They first appeared in the annals of history in the 18th century BC when they attacked Babylonia. Kassites (Caspians) founded the Dynasty of the Sealand of the ancient Sumer, the longest ruling dynasty in the history of Mesopotamia (1531-1155BC).

The Caspians were excellent sea explorers and from Gobustan petroglyphs we can see the shape of their boats. Aramaic papyri from Egypt, and Herodotus (3.93.2) mentioned the Caspians as far as Egypt in the west, and Pamir Mountains in the east.


The ancient Caspian Cross ("Kaspi xaçı" in Azerbaijani) was officially introduced in 313AD as a symbol of the kingdom and the church. King Arran was a founder of the Kingdom of Caucasian Albania according to Latin sources. The cross itself represent the greek, sometimes latin, cross with the oriental flour-de-lis at its ends, which represents a fire or a flame, it is a common symbol for Azerbaijan and the present city symbol of Baku.  The cross above is the Caspian Cross as it is seen in the Round Temple, Shaki (Azerbaijan). There are also in Kish, Nij and other places across Azerbaijan, Tatev Monastery in Syunik, Armenia. All these churches are the part of the Church of Caucasian Albania (Azerbaijan) which used to head quartered in Gandzasar Monastery (presently territory occupied by Armenia), or Gəncəsər Kafedralı (Cathedral) as it is known in Azerbaijani.

Kish, Hij (Azerbaijan)
Kish, Hij (Azerbaijan)
Caspian Cross
Gandzasar Cathedral
Caspian Cross

Caspian Cross

Caspian Cross can also be observed on the walls of Kara Kilise, or Qara Kilsə in Azerbaijani, of West Azerbaijan province of Iran. Kara Kilise is also known as The Monastery of Saint Thaddeus.




In some places across South Caucasus, the Ancient Caspian Cross as well as churches and monasteries were vandalized by the Armenian inscriptions as a result of the forceful amalgamation of the Church of Caucasian Albania into the Armenian Church.

Caspian Cross

Here is another example of Caspian Cross being vandalized by by the Armenian inscriptions, but this time in the side wall of Saint Stepanos Monastery, East Azerbaijan province of Iran.


On the picture below, you can see Caspian Cross of the top of Saint Stepanos Monastery, East Azerbaijan province of Iran, with the  outside walls being vandalized by the Armenian inscriptions.


The oriental flour-de-lis from the Caspian Cross can also be seen on the Azerbaijani muslim grave stones in Yeddi Gumbez Mausoleum, Shemakhi (Azerbaijan). This proves the cultural continuity among Azerbaijanis regardless their present religious believes.


Church. Church of Caucasian Albania is is an Autocephalous Orthodox Church and was first established by the Holy Apostle Bartholomew in Baku; and then by St. Elisha in the village of Kish, north of Azerbaijan. Upon the end of Russian-Iran War (1826-1828),  Tsar Nicolas I of Russia signed "The Decree on managing the affairs of the Armenian-Gregorian Church in Russia" ("Положение о управлении делами Армяно-Григорианской церкви в России") in 1836, which set the start for the amalgamation of the Church of Caucasian Albania and its properties into the newly formed Armenian Church (the institution as we know now) and subsequently turning the Armenian-Grigorian Church itself into the Orthodox Church with the head quarter in Etchmiadzin, also known as Üçkilsə or Üçmüəzzin in Azerbaijani. Armenians first appeared in North Mesopotamia after the expansion of the Achaemenid Empire. They were originally one of the Persian tribes which were placed to weaken the Assyrian power and influence in the region. During the Roman and Parthian empires, two agreed to create a buffer state, Kingdom of Armenia, on the mutual border in Northern Mesopotamia to prevent further confrontations between each other. The Parthian noble family of Artaxiad were instated as the puppet ruler of the new kingdom, meanwhile the kingdom itself became a vassal state of Rome. The territorial expansion of Kingdom of Armenia, claimed by the Armenian historians, actually were made by the Roman legionaries on behalf of Rome and for the Roman glory. The Roman stone inscription "Legio XII Fulminata", carved between 84 and 96 A.D in Gobustan (Azerbaijan) is clear evidence to that.

The Church of Caucasian Albania was re-established in Azerbaijan in 2003 as the Church of Caucasian Albania-Udi. In 2013 during 1700th anniversary of establishing Christianity in Azerbaijan, the grand opening of the Church of Arran took place in the village of Nij.

Caspian Cross
Art. The Caspian Cross was adopted by the Order of Calatrava (a Spanish military order from Castile) in 1164, and Patek Philippe and Co. (Swiss luxury watch manufacturer) was using it as a company logo since 1851.
Caspian Cross
Caspian Cross

More derivative variations of the Caspian Cross as an art abstract used in the textile, furniture and decoration in general.
Caspian Cross

Caspian Cross

Some organizations or individuals try to present Caspian Cross as Armenian Cross, although two are completely different. Shutterstock.com wrongly have a) Caspian Cross being distributed as b) Armenian Cross.


Eparchies of The Church

1. Caspiana (North East, East, South-East, South, Center)

  • Chola
  • Lpiniya
  • Kabala
  • Ejeri

2. Utik (North, North West)

  • Hereti
  • Kambisena
  • Gardman
  • Sakasena

3. Arsak (South-West)

  • Sisakan

4. Syunik (West)

  • Gohtan


The heads of The Church

  • St. Bartholomew
  • St. Elisha
  • Matthew
  • Isaac
  • Karen
  • Pandas
  • Lazarus
  • St. Grigoris
  • Zachary
  • David
  • John
  • Jeremiah (circa 434)


List of Catholicoses

  • Abas (551-595)
  • Viro (595-629)
  • Zachary I (629-644)
  • John I (644-671)
  • Uhtanes (671-683)
  • Eleazar (683-689)
  • Nerses I (689-706)
  • Simeon I (706-707)
  • Michael (707-744)
  • Anastasius I (744-748)
  • Joseph I (Hovsep) (748-765)
  • David I (765-769)
  • David II (769-778)
  • Matthew I (778-779)
  • Moses I (779-781)
  • Aaron (781-784)
  • Solomon I (784)
  • Theodore (784-788)
  • Solomon II (788-789)
  • John II (Hovhannes) (799-824)
  • Moses II (824)
  • David III (824-852)
  • Joseph II (852-877)
  • Samuel (877-894)
  • Hovnan (894-902)
  • Simeon II (902-923)
  • David IV (923-929)
  • Isaac (Sahag) (929-947)
  • Gagik (947-958)
  • David V (958-965)
  • David VI (965-971)
  • Peter I (971-987)
  • Moses III (987-993)
  • Mark, Joseph III, Mark, Stephen I (from 993 to 1079)
  • John III (1079-1121)
  • Stephen II (1129-1131)
  • Gregory I (circa 1139)
  • Bezhgen (circa 1140)
  • Nerses II (1149-1155)
  • Stephan III (1155-1195)
  • John IV (1195-1235)
  • Nerses III (1235-1262)
  • Stephen IV (1262-1323)
  • Sukyan and Peter II (circa 1323-1331)
  • Zachariah II (ok.1331)
  • David VII
  • Karapet (1402-1420)
  • John V (circa 1426-1428)
  • Matthew II (circa 1434)
  • Athanasius II, Gregory II and John VI (1441-1470)
  • Azaria
  • Thomas (circa 1471)
  • Aristakes I
  • Stephen V (circa 1476)
  • Nerses IV (circa 1478)
  • Shmavon I (circa 1481)
  • Arakel (1481-1497)
  • Matthew III (ok.1488)
  • Aristakes II (1515-circa 1516)
  • Sergius (Sarkis) I (circa 1554)
  • Gregory III (circa 1559-1574)
  • Peter III (1571)
  • David VIII (circa 1573)
  • Philip
  • John VII (1574-1584)
  • David IX (circa 1584)
  • Anastasius II (circa 1585)
  • Shmavon II (1586-1611)
  • Aristakes III Kolataktsi (circa 1588)
  • Melkiset Arashetsi (circa 1593)
  • Simeon III (circa 1616)
  • Peter IV Hondzaksky (1653-1675)
  • Simeon IV Hotorashensky (1675-1701)
  • Jeremiah Hasan Jalal (1676-1700)
  • Isaiah Hasan Jalal (1702-1728)
  • Nerses V (1706-1736)
  • Israel (1728-1763)
  • Nerses VI (1763)
  • John VIII Gandzasar (1763-1786)
  • Simeon V Hotorashenksky (1794-1810)
  • Sergius II Gandzasar (1810-1828, with title of metropolitan after 1815)

Etymology of name Azerbaijan. There are a lot of theories about the origin of name Azerbaijan and one of most popular among historian is the story of Atropates (greek Aτρoπάτης, parthian Aturpat). The story states that after the death of King Alexander of Macedonia his admirals split the whole kingdom, and Atropates received Mannea and Media. The story also says that the whole region got its name after this man. So Aturpatakan turned gradually Aderbaigan, and then Azerbaijan. So most historic researchers jumped into conclusion trying to join two names Atropates (Aturpat) and Aturpatakan and looking for links with the modern name Azerbaijan.

In Hebrew Azar means help (military), ally. For instance, Azarel means "God is helper". Very common name in Bible. Assyrians refer to the land on the east border of Assyria as As/Az, here is the name Asia. There were also confederation of tribes around the lake Urmia named as Assa. In modern Azerbaijani the word Azer means great and powerful. That is supported by Oguzname where the translation of Azerbaijan is given as the Land of Great/Powerful. The ancient Norwegian Sagas about Odin and the Viking origin states the Odin with his people Asir/Azer left Turkland and came across Europe to Saxon, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. And the apparent original land of Asir is modern Azerbaijan.

It is obvious that name Azerbaijan has ancient roots, and it goes beyond Atropates and the first Arians who came into Caucasus only around 5-6 B.D.

Alphabet. There were 26 ethnicities in Caucasian Albania according to Moses of Kalankatuyk. All of them could be separated into three major linguistic groups: Turkic, Caucasian, Iranian languages. The  alphabet of Caucasian Alphabet was known to have 54 letters. There is an evidence that the Greek alphabet was used among Turkic Christians. Those ones due to an oppression from the Armenians (non-orthodox christians), Arabs and Mongols, those Turkic speaking christians migrated from Azerbaijan to Cappadocia and formed the Karamanli community, the Karamanlides. The Greek alphabet for writing Turkic is called Karamanlidika (Καραμανλήδικα / Καραμανλήδεια γραφή). Example, Bardanes Tourkos (Βαρδάνης ὁ Τοῦρκος) was a Byzantine general of the Turkic origin who launched an unsuccessful rebellion against Emperor Nikephoros I (r. 802–811) in 803. His name shows that he was baptized, and of the Turkic origin. Another example, Tauri and Bulgars, Gagauzians and Urumians are also another example of the Orthodox Christians of the Turkic origin from the Black Sea basin who used the Greek alphabet.

The Latin script is an official alphabet of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

"Our Father" Prayer in Old Turkic: Atamız kim köktesiñ. Alğışlı bolsun seniñ atıñ, kelsin seniñ xanlığıñ, bolsun seniñ tilemekiñ – neçikkim kökte, alay [da] yerde. Kündeki ötmegimizni bizge bugün bergil. Dağı yazuqlarımıznı bizge boşatqıl – neçik biz boşatırbiz bizge yaman etkenlerge. Dağı yekniñ sınamaqına bizni quurmağıl. Basa barça yamandan bizni qutxarğıl.