We and our surnames

  • by Western Armenia, January 29, 2024 in Patrimony

The last name can tell a lot about the Armenian ancestors, their social status or occupation. The word surname is explained as the name of a nation.

But at the very beginning of the origin of the surname, there were no national names, because people lived in small groups, separated from each other, and everyone knew each other well.

Before the emergence of surnames, Armenians used "genealogical" structures to distinguish people of the same name. for example: "Hrayr's grandson Hayk", "Minas boy Hayk" and so on. Sometimes, a person received a nickname by which he was called along with his name.

Along with the emergence of cities, when craftsmanship was separated from agriculture, trade also developed and people had to move from one location to another.

It was then that there was a need to create surnames, because it was no longer possible to recognize people according to their characteristics or so-called adjective names.

At that time, along with the names, the name of the place where the given person was born was used, for example, ANANIA SHIRAKATSI, GRIGOR TATEVATSI, etc. Or his activity or profession was used together with the name of the person, for example, MKRTICH NAGHASH, GRIGOR MAGISTROS, etc.

In the course of time, already in the ancient and middle centuries, the noble families definitely had surnames - Artsruni, Amatuni, Mamikonians, Rshtuni. Later, clan names were added to surnames, the words "nation", "lineage", "house" were added to first names.

 For example, the Artsrun family, the Mamikony family, the Rshtun family, etc.

Time passed, life began to dictate its laws, and ordinary people needed surnames. It turned out that several people from one nation, or generation after generation, were so skilled in this or that trade that they were already starting to be called a nation by the title of that trade. For example - Voskerchyan, Hatsukhyan, Kartashyan.

The surnames of the inhabitants of Western Armenia deserve special attention. That part of the country at some point became part of the Ottoman Empire. The Turkish language influenced the creation of many Armenian surnames of "Western Armenia". For example, Demirchyan is derived from the Turkish word "demirch", blacksmith.

In the surnames of Armenians, the letter "ch" usually indicates a trade, because the names of trades in Turkish end with "chi". For example, the surname Bardakchian comes from "bardakchi", a potter.

The prefix "Melik", for example, Melik-Hakobyan, indicates the noble origin of an Armenian. The prefix "Ter", which means "father" or "owner", was used for the clergy. Hence, for example, Ter-Matevosyan, Ter-Petrosyan, Ter-Stepanyan and other similar surnames.