|ca. 8,000 to 9,000|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Udi, Azerbaijani, and Russian|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Lezgins, Tabasarans, Tsakhurs and other Northeast Caucasian peoples|
The Udis (self-name Udi or Uti) are an ancient native people of the Caucasus. Currently, they live in Azerbaijan, Russia, Georgia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and many other countries. The total number is about 10,000 people. They speak the Udi language. Some also speak Azerbaijani, Russian, Georgian and Armenian languages depending on where they reside. Their religion is Christianity.
Today the Udi live mostly in Azerbaijan, in the village of Nij of the region of Kabala, Oğuz (former Vartashen), and Baku. Small groups reside in Russia in the Rostov region (Shahty, Taganrog, Rostov-na-Donu, Azov, Aleksandrovka); in the Krasnodar territory (Krasnodar, areas of Dinskoy, Leningrad, Kushchevsky); in the Stavropol Territory (Minvody, Pyatigorsk); in the Volgograd region (Volgograd, Dubovy Ovrag); and also in Sverdlovsk, Ivanovo, Kaluga areas, Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Astrakhan, Georgia, Zinobiani and the outskirts of Tbilisi, Poti, Rustavi, Kazahkstan (city Aktau). Some also live in Ukraine (Kharkiv oblast area).
The Udi are considered to be the descendants of the people of Caucasian Albania. According to the classical authors, the Udi inhabited the area of the eastern Caucasus along the coast of the Caspian Sea, in a territory extending to the Kura River in the north, as well as the ancient province of Utik. Today, most Udis belong to the Eastern Orthodox Church. Centuries of life in the sphere of Turco-Persian society influenced their culture, as is expressed in Udi folk traditions and the material culture.
The Udi are first mentioned in Herodotus' Histories (5th century BC). Describing the Battle of Marathon, during the Greek-Persian war (490 year BC), the author noted that Udi soldiers also were at war as a part of nine satrapy of the Persian army. The Udis are mentioned in the Geographica of the ancient Greek writer Strabon (1st century BC) in his description of the Caspian Sea and the Caucasian Albania.
The ethnic term "Udi" was mentioned first in the Natural history by the ancient Roman author Pliny the Elder (1st century CE). Further ancient information about the Udi people can be found in books by Ptolemy (2nd century), Gaius Asinius Quadratus and many other authors. Since 5th century AD, the Udi people are often mentioned in the Armenian sources. More extensive information is given in The History of Aluank by Movses Kagancatvasiy. The Udi were one of the predominating Albanian tribes  and they were considered the creators of Caucasian Albania.
Both capitals of Caucasian Albania: Kabalak (also called Kabalaka, Khabala, Khazar, today's Qabala) and Partav (also called Partaw, today's Barda), were located in the historical territory of the Udi. They occupied extensive territories from the bank of the Caspian Sea to the Caucasian Mountains, on the left and right banks of the Kura River. One of the regions in this area was named "Utik". After the conquest of the Caucasian Albania by Arabs, the number of the Udi and their territory were gradually reduced. According to the linguist Wolfgang Schulze, the western Udi had to leave Nagorno-Karabakh and settle in the village of Nij to resist Armenization.
Today the only places of concentrated Udi settlement are the villages of Nij and Oğuz in Azerbaijan, as well as the village of Zinobiani in Georgia. Although in the recent past, the Udi people lived in Mirzabeily, Soltan Nuha, Jourlu, Mihlikuvah, Vardanly, Bajan, Kirzan, and Yenigkend, in contemporary times they have been mostly assimilated with the people of Azerbaijan.
The Udi language is a Northeast Caucasian language of the Lezgic branch. The two primary dialects are Nij (Nidzh) and Vartashen. The people today also speak Azerbaijani, Russian, and Georgian. The Udi are commonly bilingual, and less frequently trilingual, depending on residence and work. Many use Udi only in daily life, but for official purposes, the Udi use the language of the country in which they reside, such as Azerbaijani or Russian.
The Udi language has two dialects: Nidzh and Vartashen. Nidzh dialect has subdialects that are divided into three subgroups- bottom, intermediate, top. Linguists believe the dialects originated according to geographice groupings of the Udi from the Tauz region: the villages of Kirzan and Artzah (Karabah, v. seysylla, Gasankala) moved to Nidzh and Oguz. Vartashen dialect has two subdialects: Vartashen and Oktomberry. "Ancient Writing" AS the majority linguists consider in the past the udi language was one of widespread languages of the Caucasian Albany on the basis of which, in the 5th century the Albanian writing was created, having put in pawn the bases of the Udi people literary language. The alphabet had 52 letters. The language was widely used, as major Bible texts were translated into the Albanian language. Church services were conducted in it. Due to historical reasons, the Albanian written language superseded by others imposed by conquerors. It gradually disappeared.
Population and changes
In 1880, the population of the Udi people living in the area around Qabala in northern Azerbaijan, was estimated at 10,000. In the year 1897 the number of the Udi people was given around 4.000, in 1910 around 5.900. They were counted as 2.500 in the census of 1926, in 1959 as 3.700, in 1979 as 7.000 and in 1989, the Udi people numbered 8.652. On census of 1999 in Azerbaijan there are 4152 udis.
- George Kechaari, Udi writer, educator, public figure and scientist.
- Voroshil Gukasyan, a Soviet linguist, Caucasologist and specialist in Udi language and Caucasian Albanian inscriptions.
- Patvakan A. Kushmanyan, distinguished educator of former Armenian SSR, linguist.
- Movses Silikyan, Major general during World War I for the Russian Imperial Army and then for the Armenian Army in the fight for independence
- The Sociolinguistics Situation of the Udi in Azerbaijan – John M. Clifton, Deborah A. Clifton, Peter Kirk, and Roar Ljøkjell
- "Ethnic Groups in Georgia # 3 – Udis". The Georgian Times. 2008-04-17. Retrieved 2008-04-17.
- State statistics committee of Ukraine - National composition of population, 2001 census (Ukrainian)
- "Muslim Kurds and Christian Udis". Hetq Online. 2006-11-13. Retrieved 2006-11-13.
- V. Minorsky. Caucasica IV. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 15, No. 3. (1953), pp. 504–529.
- The Red Book of Peoples: The Udis
- Movses Kagancatvasiy, The History of Aluank (в 3-х книгах)
- К. В. Тревер К вопросу о культуре Кавказской Албании (доклад на XXV Международном конгрессе востоковедов, 1960 год)
- Wolfgang Schulze, "Towards a History of Udi", р. 23
- Игорь Кузнецов. Удины
- Игорь Кузнецов. Удины.
- И. В. Кузнецов. Заметки к изучению агванского (кавказско-албанского) письма
- Map showing in dark green the Udi area in 1800
- Петрушевский И. П., Очерки по истории феодальных отношений в Азербайджане и Армении в XVI – начале XIX в.в., Л., 1949, с. 28
- "The Udi people in Azerbaijan"