Azerbaijan International

Spring 2005 (13.1)

Sofi Hamid

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Sofi Hamid cemetery has, at least, four alphabets represented on the graves, reflecting the official scripts that Azerbaijan has had over the centuries. (1) Arabic (up until the mid-1920s). When graves are bilingual with Arabic, this script is generally reserved for verses from the Quran or Islamic prayers such as: "There is no God but Allah and Mohammad is His prophet". There are various styles of Arabic script and some attempts to write it are very child-like and full of errors. (2) Cyrillic script for writing Azeri, the official script during the Soviet period starting in the 1940s and continuing up until about 2001 although the government had officially adopted Latin in 1991. Sometimes Cyrillic letters used in Russian are also included in the Azeri. (3) Early Latin (with dotted ä) in late 1991, early 1992. (4) Latin alphabet with schwa (upside-down e) officially since 1992, though in reality, more in usage since about 2001. We found graves inscribed in several languages-Arabic, Azeri, Persian, Russian, and possibly Armenian.
Photo: Betty Blair

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