Bringer Of Culture, The Navoi Opera: 1 So'm (Uzbekistan, 1994)-Article

Updated: Jan 22

This Uzbek banknote represents the 1st denomination of the Second Som (Series 1994). The Second Som was introduced on 1 July 1994. It was preceded by the transitional First Som, which replaced the Soviet Ruble at par (1:1), on November 15, 1993. The exchange rate was a substantial 1,000 "Old" to 1 "New Som. Due to high inflation of the post-1991 Soviet Ruble.

Notably the banknotes of the Series 1994 are highly ornate. Although follow a basic format, with the National Emblem on the observe. While the reverse depicts one of Uzbekistan's famous landmark. This practice continued until the adoption of the current Series 2021.


The observe depicts the National Emblem of Uzbekistan. It depicts the mythical Khumo, a large bird said to endlessly soar above the earth. The Khumo is said to be compassionate and a bringer of good fortune. Making it somewhat similar to the ancient Chinese Fenghuang, which is an East Asian analogue to the western Phoenix.

Below the National Emblem is the note's serial number, it reads "UL1874937". Opposite of the emblem is a highly ornate seal. With a stylized number "1" inside, representing the note's 1 So'm face value. Below it is the note's "1994" print date. Both the seal and the National Emblem rest on a guilloché backing.

Above the note's header reads (trans.) "Central Bank of the Republic of Uzbekistan". Below this header is an ornate embellishment. It hangs above the note's watermark area, which features a repeating 8-pointed star pattern, when backlit. This being the Islamic Rub el Hizb, a common feature seen on Central Asian flags.

Below the watermark area is a simple notification. It reads (trans.), "The Uzbek So‘m must be accepted at face value, for all payments in the republic". It's purpose was simply to notify merchants the note was a legitimate replacement for the previous First So'm. As citizens and merchants were skeptical, due to inflation causing the First So'm to quickly lose value over time.

The border features a pattern resembling a beaded chain. There is 2 unprinted eyelets, found halfway on the note's sides. They function as a form of simple registration element. Backlighting these eyelets will cause an ornate pattern to appear inside. It resembles the pattern seen inside the round beads.

To a lesser extent a similar effect can be seen along note's header. The unprinted missing beads will become "filled in" by backlighting.


The reverse depicts the Alisher Navoi Opera and Ballet Theater, in Tashkent. The theater was designed by renowned Soviet architect Alexey Shchusev (1873-1949). Due to WWII, its construction was drawn out from 1942-1947. It was opened to the public on November 1947. Marking the 500th anniversary of the Turkic poet Ali-Shir Nava'i birth.

The theater illustration covers the majority of the reverse. Which has few distinctive elements, excluding the border. To the lower right is a stylized large number "1" representing the note's beforementioned One So'm face value.

The border shows notable changes from the observe. The footer text features a counterfeit warning it reads (trans.), "Counterfeiting of the Uzbek So‘m is prosecuted in accordance to the law". The round beads besides it now feature a number "1" inside. This is followed by "pill-shaped" beads, each features the text "БИР СЎМ", representing the note's One So'm value.

Notably the positives of the observe registration elements can bee seen. They appear as purple ornaments with in and eyelet. Their color matches that of the beforementioned large number one.

1994 Second Som Gallery

(Gallery contains all Series 1994 banknotes)


Additional Notes

  • This notes dimensions are 120 x 92 mm or 4.72 x 3.62 in, wider than a US Dollar.

  • The preferable method to preserve this note are large protective sleeves, cut to size.

  • The Second So'm ISO code is UZS, it uses сум as it official symbol.

  • The Second So'm is subdivided into 100 Tyin, although inflation has made it obsolete.

  • Uzbekistan adds new and retires old banknotes based on long-term inflation.

  • Banknotes valued from 1-25 So'm were demonetized, on 1 March 2020.

  • Banknotes valued from 50-100 So'm were demonetized, on 1 July 2019.

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