Manas, Hero Of The Krygyz People: 1 Som (Kyrgyzstan, 1993)-Article

Updated: Jan 21

This Krygyz banknote represents the 4th denomination of the So'm (First Series, 1993). The term so'm means “pure” in a number Turkic languages and is a reference to pure gold. The First Som was introduced on 10 May 1993, as a replacement for Soviet Ruble. The First Som replaced the Soviet Ruble at rate of 1 to 200 and was divided into 100 Tyin.

The banknotes of the First So'm were created by world renowned printer De La Rue, London. Using designs by Dmitri Evgenyevich Lysogorov and Anatoly P. Tsygankov, of the Krygyz Union of Artists. Similar to the 1, 10, and 50 Tyin notes that preceded it. The 1, 5, and 20 Som notes are simple color-coded designs. All these before mentioned notes were replaced by the Second Series So'm (1994).


The observe features the Manas Monument, in Bishkek. Manas is a legendary folk hero, celebrated by the Kyrgyz people. The Epic of Manas is a series of 3 books, which documents events in the life of Manas, his son, and grandson. It's narrative coincides with important historic events during the 9th century. Involving the Kyrgyz people, neighboring Turkic tribes, and the Chinese.

Beneath the note's Manas Monument is a Turkic-style underprint. It forms a band that divides the watermark area and the rest of the note. Below is the note's serial number, it reads "12/CH 00337626". The note's left features an elaborate underprint of overlapping guilloché patterns.

At the upper-left is an unprinted eyelet. When backlit a ornate Turkic ornament appears inside this eyelet. A larger ornament can be seen to the right, above the guilloché underprint. The header above reads "КЫРГЫЗСТАН БАНКЫ", translated as the "Bank of Kyrgyzstan". Below the footer refers to the note's "1 One Som" face value.

To the note's far right, the beforementioned watermark area. At its top is a reference to the note's "1 Som" value. While below is the signature of the Bank Chairman (ТӨРАГА). The watermark is a pair of abstract repeating eagle figures, arranged over and under.


The reverse features the Manas Ordo, believed to be the mausoleum of Manus. The mausoleum is located 12 km (7.5 mi) east from the town of Talas. Strangely the mausoleum has inscription, which dedicates it to "...the most famous of women, Kenizek-Khatun, the daughter of the Emir Abuka".

According to legend Manas's widow Kanikey, order this inscription to confuse his enemies. When archaeologists opened the tomb, they found the skeleton of a nearly 2 m tall (6.5 feet) man. Rather then the supposed princess, thus some providing creditability to the legend.

Similar to the observe, the reverse features decorative bands. The first is used to vertically separate the watermark area. While second decorative horizontal band is used to separate lower text. The text remains the same as the observe. The only difference being the number "1", is listed after "One Som".

The underprint continues to uses guilloché patterns, although with less overlapping elements. At the upper-right is the earlier mentioned Turkic ornament. It aligns with the observe eyelet and can be somewhat regarded as a simple form of registration element. A similar feature can be observed on Kyrgyz Tyin notes issued the same year.

To the far left is the watermark area. It mostly resemble the observe with some subtle changes. The Bank Chairman's signature has been removed. While underprint extends into the watermark area, forming a point. The before mentioned horizontal band also can be seen printed above it.

First So'm Gallery

(Additional notes will be added when databased)


Additional Notes

  • This notes dimensions are 140 x 70 mm or 5.51 x 2.76 in, wider than a US Dollar.

  • Talas is located in the Talas River valley, between the Krygyz and Tian Shan Mountain ranges.

  • Talas was a popular site for visiting traders, as the Talas River valley provides safe passage.

  • The Epic of Manas claims he was buried in the Talas Ala-Too, the Krygyz name for the southwestern Tian Shan Mountains.

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