ORDUBĀD, a town on the north bank of the middle course of the Araxes (Aras) river of eastern Transcaucasia, former in Persian territory but now in the Republic of Azerbaijan. It is some 94 km north-northwest of Tabriz and lies at an altitude of 948 m.

The Turco-Persian name “army town” implies a foundation during the period of the Mongol invasions or the ensuing Il-Khanid one, especially as the Il-Khanids made Āẕarbāyjān the center of their power. Certainly, Ḥamd-Allāh Mostawfi (writing in the mid-14th century) describes it as a provincial town, one of the five towns making up the tumān of Naḵčevān, with fine gardens, and producing good grapes, corn and cotton. It was watered by a stream coming down from Mt. Qobān (= Tk. Qapïjïq, Rus. Kapudzhukh or Kapydzhik, 3,904 m) to the north, with floodwaters running off into the Araxes (Nozhat al-qolub, ed. Le Strange, p. 89, tr., p. 90; cf. Le Strange, Lands, p. 167). In subsequent centuries the khanates of both Yerevan (Erivan) and Naḵčevān (Nakhichevan) constituted dependencies of Persia, with Ordubād forming the main town of the district of Āzā-Jerān in the eastern part of the khanate of Naḵčevān; but after the Russo-Persian War of 1827 and the Treaty of Turkmānčāy of 1828, these were ceded to Imperial Russia, so that henceforth Ordubād fell within Russian territory. In 1834 a census enumerated a population of 11,341, Muslim and Armenian, for Ordubād and its 52 dependent villages.

Ordubād is now one of the main towns, after the capital Naḵčevān, of the Naḵčevān Autonomous Republic (an enclave of the Azerbaijan Republic) and the center of one of the Autonomous Repubic’s three regions, bearing the same name Ordubād. The population is overwhelmingly Azerbaijani, with small Russian and Armenian minorities, but no precise figures are available(cf. Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 1978, 17, p. 308).

Bibliography: Given in the text.

(C. Edmund Bosworth)

Originally Published: July 20, 2002

Last Updated: July 20, 2002