Udis: The Descendants of The Albanians

Author: Bayram Isgandarov


Udins - the ancient tribe who live primarily in Azerbaijan, are the descendants of the Caucasian Albanians. Todays, the number of udins reaches 3962 people. The religion is christianity. There are two the oldest churchs in the village. More than 2,000 years later, despite the fact that their language has not been in a written form since, at least, the 10th century, the language still is alive. 

Not long ago, the Azerbaijani government started recruiting Udins for military service. The problem had been that many Udins had adopted Armenian family names. Because of the ongoing conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenians, the Azerbaijani military did not want to recruit these Udins in military service, even though military service is required of all Azerbaijani males.

On May 26, 2003, a religious entity was formalized and registered with the government called the "Albanian Udin Christian Community of the Azerbaijan Republic". 

In the early 1990s, Jora Kochari, one of the elders of the Udin community in Nij, registered a Cultural Foundation with the government. Since then, he has worked hard to produce numerous literary works in the Udi language. Since Azerbaijan has adopted Latin as their official alphabet, Udins also have based their 52-letter alphabet on Latin as well. Such nationalistic gestures would have been impossible during the Soviet period. 
In addition, these days in Udin schools, children are taught the Udin language up through the fourth grade. Some community members would like to see instruction extended through the eighth grade. 
The latest estimate of the Udin population was 8,000 (1989); today, some suggest the figure to be about 10,000. The majority of Udins live in northern Azerbaijan near Gabala in two areas. An estimated 4,000 Udins reside in the village of Nij and about 100 live in the Oghuz region. There has not been a census since the collapse of the Soviet Union, so no one is absolutely certain what the total Udin population is. A small number also live in the cities of Baku and Sumgayit. There are also small groups living in Russia, Georgia, and Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

The central square of the village. Mainly, the population is gathering here. There are chai khanas (tea houses). Rural people are drinink tea in the tea houses.
Local Udins.
The ancient church with unknown history.
" According to the local information, during the soviet time the church was being used as a granar, but then it was repaired and now is usinig as a church again. "
People are praying in the church. The sign says "long life" in Russian and in the Udin language.
The inside of the church is kept clean.
A local Udin, Onnik, lives near the church and from time-to-time visits it.
There is a Christian cemetary in the village.

To read more about Udis living in other countries of the South Caucasus, please click on the map below.


We are a non-profit media organization covering the topics and groups of people that are frequently ignored by mainstream media. Our work would not be possible without support from our community and readers like you. Your donations enable us to support journalists who cover underrepresented stories across the region.