Saturday, May 23, 2015

Caspian Cross / Kaspi Xaçı / Каспийский Крест

Caspian Cross (Caucasian Albania - Azerbaijan)
Caspian Cross (Azerbaijan)

Ancient Caspian Cross of Azerbaijan

Introduction. Azerbaijan is a birthplace of many ancient cultures and civilizations, such as Shulaveri-Shomu and Kura–Araxes cultures, Mannea, Media, etc. The name Azerbaijan has two versions of interpretation: the first version is based on the Median words Athurpatakan (Athur - "fire", patakan - "keeper"; the second version (according to "Oghuzname") is based on Old Turkic words Khazarbaijan (Khazar - "land", baijan - "welthy", or "noble"). The word Khazar means "land" also in Mongolian, but it is spelled as Gazar ("Ystoria Mongalorum" by Giovanni da Pian del Carpine, written in the 1240).

The original name of Greater Azerbaijan (both Iranian Azerbaijan and Republic of Azerbaijan) 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'". Herodotus (Book 3, 89-95), who lived around 484 - 425 BC, provided the same evidence by listing South Caspiane (Iranian Azerbaijan) as XI and North Caspiane (Republic of Azerbaijan) as XV tax districts (satrapy) of the Achaemenid Empire. 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.

It should be noted that according to Herodotus, Caspians did not share a border with Armenia, which was part of XIII tax district. The XVIII tax district, which included Matienians, Saspires and Alordians (it is a territory from Lake Urmia through Lake Van and all the way to Ispir in Turkey, also known as Eastern Anatolia), separated Caspiane from Armenia, hence, placing Armenians west of Diyarbakir rather in east as it is claimed by the Armenian historians.

Etymology of name Caspian. The name Caspian (Kaspi) refers to the color "argent" through various contexts such as noble, precious and silver (currency), according to the ancient Assyrian records (Assyrian Grammar, A.H.Sayce, 1875, p.34). There is a Hebrew personal name Caspi or Kaspi meaning "made of silver" or "of silver", and it has roots in the Assyrian KASP(I)U loaned from the ancient Sumerian to define a) noble, precious; b) silver (currency).  Neither Hebrews (keseph) nor Arabs (fida) have the exact word like Kaspi in their languages, and there is also another Assyrian word for the regular silver (KU)BABBAR. So it is possible that the name came into used through the ruling Kassites (Kass/Kassi/Kasp/Kaspi) dynasty (1531-1155BC) in the same manner as the term "sterling silver" (Easterlings, referring to the East Baltic merchants) was introduced by the Hanseatic League in 1260 to distinguish their high quality silver for the currency exchange from the regular silver.

The ancient Assyrian cuneiform for the word Kaspi (see below) as the standardized "silver-currency" is given in various trade and contact tablets as


This cuneiform can be found in the text on "Sennacherib's Invasion of Palestine" about Hezekiah's tribute of 30 talents of gold and 800 talents of silver. (First Steps in Assyrian, L.W.King, 1898, pp. 64-65). Another reference to the word Kaspi as silver-currency for the exchange in goods (slaves), can be found in "Assyrian and Babylonian contracts; with Aramaic reference notes" ( J.H.Stevenson, 1902, pp.74-75): "1 mani 30 siklu kaspi". Both mani and siklu were ancient Sumerian units of weight widely used across Mesopotamia and Near East, 1 mani is equivalent to 60 siklu. We know for sure that term "Mani" (translates into English as "to count") transformed into Azerbaijani "Manat", which is used as a designation term for the paper notes in the Greater Azerbaijan at least since 18 century, and the term "Siklu" (translates into English as "to weigh") transformed into Israeli "Shekel", which is used as a designation term for the paper notes since 1980. Azerbaijani language have also a similar word "sikkə" [sikke] for the gold and silver coins, and "qəpik-quruş" [gepik-gurush] for the copper coins.

There must be a link between the current name for silver and icy-white Caucasus Mountains and the argent Kaspi for "silver". It is also a fact that the Caspians as well the Colchis were skillful metallurgist, hence the reference to silver. Ancient Greeks mentions the giant Prometheus, as the first ever “metallurgist”, who was chained to the rocks of the Caucasus by the gods.

So far many tried to explain the name Caucasus, one of whom according to Wikipedia is Leonti Mroveli, a 11th-century Georgian chronicler who implied mythology to do it. The second one is Pliny the Elder's Natural History (77–79 AD), who derives the name of the Caucasus, which used to be called the Caspian Mountains, from Scythian "Graucasis" meaning "white with snow" (Book VI, chap.19(17)). In antiquity Republic of Azerbaijan (Caspiane) was also known as Caucasian Albania, which probably was a direct translation from the ancient topographic name since the Latin "albus" and Ancient Greek "ἀλφός" (alphos) also means white. Ancient people of Asia Minor, Hittites, defined the cloud as "𒀠𒉺𒀸", which reads as alpas, similar to the Ancient Greek.

The version of Leonti Mroveli seems very unlikely. However, the version of Pliny the Elder, although erroneous to the certain extent, can be used as a starting point. Pliny the Elder mistakenly translates "Grau-" as Greek "κρύο" (kryo) - cold, chill. It is most likely Scythian "Grau-" is closely related to Russian and Ukrainian "край", read as [krai], or Azerbaijani and Turkish "qiraq", read as [grag(h)]. The Russian word "krai" means "land" also "edge", where the Azerbaijani word "qiraq" means "edge". Hence, Grau-Casis actually means "Land/Edge of Casis". In order to prove the theory that the Caucasus Mountains is the exact native reference and translation of the Caspian Mountains, we provide the evidence from The Memorial Tablet of Ramman-nirari I, King of Assyria, about 1325 BC. This tablet states: "Ramman-nirari, the illustrious prince, adorned by God, the ruler, the viceroy of the gods, the founder  of cities, the destroyer of the mighty armies of the Kas(si), the Kut(i), the Lulum(i), and the Subar(i), annihilator of all foes above and below the Upper and Lower Seas (Lake Van and Urmia)". The tablet mentions the Kas(si) or Kasp(i) as the first mighty foe of Assyria, and place them in South Caucasus. It should be noted, that Assyrian word for the silver Kaspi, has the root "Kas". So going back to the Pliny the Elder's version of the origin of name Caucasus, we can say that the Scythian Grau-Kass means "Land of Kassi/Kaspi" or "Edge of Kassi/Kaspi", referring to the more ancient version of name Caucasus, where Cau- means Mountains.

History of The Caspians. 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. Below, I propose the flag of the Church of Caucasian Albania-Udi, all Azerbaijani christians, and the flag of Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, as a Christian enclave within Republic of Azerbaijan as oppose to the current flag of Nagorno-Karabakh, which represent an Armenian aggression and appropriation of our churches by foreign hordes.


There is also a more simplified version with the same symbolic meaning


As oppose to the current flag of the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, which is a duplicate of the Armenian flag, this flag represents the past and present of the Azerbaijan Christian heritage. White represents the silver caps of the Caucasian mountains, which is used to be known as the Caspian mountains, and Blue resents the Caspian sea. Four parts are the regions of Azerbaijan: three parts represents regions formed as a result Kura and Aras rivers flowing through the Greater Azerbaijan; the fourth part is Mughan and the chain of islands in the Caspian sea.

Alphabet. The Greater Azerbaijan is famous for its tolerance. It was a safe heaven for many people, who were prosecuted back home for their believes and religion, the same way as United States of America before early 20th century. People flocked from all parts of the world. Azerbaijanis were so famous for their tolerance and multiculturalism, that Armenians even gave them the name of "Aghuank" (Old Armenian: Աղուանք), which means amiable or friendly. So 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.

"Our Father" Prayer in Codex Cumanicus: 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.

Azerbaijani language, unlike languages of Indo-European or Semitic groups of Middle East and Caucasus, it is well structured and has all features of Sumerian language such as agglutination and vowel harmony. Just like Sumerian, the Semitic alphabets are not suitable for Azerbaijani language. The Latin script is most practical of all alphabets, and it is an official alphabet of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

It is a general misconception that prior Azerbaijani Turkic language, there was some mythical Indo-European "Azari" language. Both Azerbaijani and Persian languages share a common layer, which contains a common ancient words neither Semitic nor Indo-European origins. As derivatives of the common ancient language these languages (Azerbaijani and Persian) have, for instance, similarities in pronouns, lack of gender, and many other features which are common and also distinctive features of either Indo-European or Semitic languages. Prior the First World War, the difference between two languages was minimal, since both languages share the same ancient vocabulary, hence, people could easily interchange between each other. The northern language which was used mostly in Azerbaijan, Khorasan and Khwarazm was called "Türki" (ترکی), and southern language was "Dari" (دری). Due to the Sassanid kingdom the Dari language became the language of court (divan), and Türki became the language of military. This tradition had been maintained all the way through the Khwarazmian and Seljuk Empires, as well as by the Safavid, Afsharid and Qajar dynasties of Iran. The term Persian language was introduced by the British Empire at the beginning of the 20th century in order to disintegrate Iran and overthrow the Qajar dynasty and bring to the Iranian throne some puppet shah, which could be easily manipulated.

Azerbaijani Calendar. The ancient roots of Azerbaijan can also be traced through its old calendar (the names of days of weeks and months), which has a resemblance with the Sumerian and the Babylonians. Just like the Sumerian calendar the day starts at the sunset and the names of month define the beginning and the end of seasons. All these calendars were devised through the methodological mathematical and astronomical research to meet the needs of farming. The year starts on the Spring Equinox with a great spring festivity also known as Azerbaijani New Year or Novruz, which is similar to the ancient Sumerian holiday of Akita. The old calendar was both solar and lunar, today the Republic of Azerbaijan like the rest of the world uses the Gregorian calendar. Below is provided the comparison table with old and new Azeri names and their English equivalents.

The day in Azeri means “gün”, and month means “ay”.

Months of Year

English New Azeri Old Azeri Translation
January Yanvar Orta qış ay Middle month of winter
February Fevral Son qış ay / Sonuc ay Last month of winter / The end month
March Mart İlk yaz (bahar) ay First month of spring
April Aprel Orta yaz ay Middle month of spring
May May Son yaz ay Last month of sprig
June İyun İlk yay ay First month of summer
July İyul Orta yay ay Middle month of summer
August Avqust Son yay ay Last month of summer
September Sentyabr İlk payız ay First month of autumn
October Oktyabr Orta payız ay Middle month of autumn
November Noyabr Son payız ay Last month of autumn
December Dekabr İlk qış ay First month of winter

Days of Week

English Azeri Translation
Monday Bazar ertǝsi Next day after market day
Tuesday Çǝrşǝnbǝ axşamı Night before 4th day after Saturday
Wednesday Çǝrşǝnbǝ 4th day after Saturday
Thursday Cümǝ axşamı Night before 6th day after Saturday
Friday Cümǝ 6th day after Saturday
Saturday Şǝnbǝ Origin
Sunday Bazar günü Market day

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 (left) being distributed as b) Armenian Cross (right).


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)

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