Narde from Azerbaijan

In Fun

In Azerbaijan, this Narde game was played among friends of different backgrounds. Narde is similar to backgammon, but the rules and positions are slightly different. The name "Narde" is of Persian descent. My family and I are Mountain Jews/ Gorsky Jews, and our native languages are Russian and Farsi (Persian). The Jewish community in Azerbaijan is a small one. Narde symbolizes how different groups of people in Azerbaijan were able to get along. My father always tells me about how Gorsky Jews, Armenians, Ashkenazi Russian Jews, and Azerbaijani Muslims would spend their free time playing this game. He emphasizes how neighbors were neighbors, and everyone was welcomed to the table. After a full meal with rice, golubtsi, and sabzi, or maybe shish kebabs, there would be tea with walnuts, hurma, and prunes. Then, the men and a few brave women would play the game. There would be arguments, but only in good spirit. Today, the game is played in many ex-Soviet countries. Interestingly enough, our game board pictures the Red Square and Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. My mother speculates that this represents the close relations between these countries. Now, whenever my parents have some free time, one of them will challenge the other to a game of Narde (and I honestly can't say who's the better player), My parents and I immigrated to America about 17 years ago, but keeping this game serves as a constant reminder of our culture and of friendship across ethnic boundaries.

Place(s): Azerbaijan
Year: 1999

– Nicole Rakhmanova

Relationship:  Im/migrant who arrived as a child Im/migrant who arrived as a child