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 into the Armenian Church and subsequently turning the Armenian Church into Orthodox 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.