What is Armenian and where are Armenians from? A question that needs to be thoroughly examined as it is rather interesting topic of discussion.
Some of you, probably, have heard about Armenians and are familiar with their traditions and hospitality or, at least know someone who has an Armenian friend. We won’t exaggerate if we say that Armenia is one of the oldest nations in the world.
It has rich cultural and historical background about what Armenians are very proud of. But after all you may wonder: What is Armenian? Where are Armenians from? Well, here is a brief summary of the phenomenon of Armenia and its history.
What is Armenian? A Nation of Century-Long and Rich History
Have you ever heard of the legendary Biblical Mount Ararat, upon which Noah’s Ark “landed” after the flood?
Well, Armenians have one more thing to boast of as in the centre of Armenian Uplands stands Mount Ararat. The territory of Armenian Highlands has been inhabited since prehistoric times, more concretely since the Stone Age (Paleolithic era). Armenians are a mixture of ancient tribes.
As Hittie and Assyrian sources indicate the first tribal unions that inhabited in the Armenian Plateau were Hayasa-Azzi, Isuva, Alishe, Uruatri, Dayaeni, Diauekhi.
Some of these tribes influenced on the physical appearance, tradition, culture of Armenian people. The prolonged historical process of formation and development of Armenian nation mostly dates back to the II-I millenniums BC.
According to some researchers Hayasa tribal union had a leading role for the origin of the denomination process of Armenian nation. Some historians highlight that by the 9th century B.C the ancient unified state of Armenia was Urartu (now accepted name: Kingdom of Van).
It was the strongest kingdom in the North East. This is where are Armenians from.
What is Armenian?
Etymology of the name Armenia
And, if you want to know more about the etymologies of these names then keep on reading! There are traditional and ethnic etymologies about the origins of names connected with Armenia. The first interpretation provided famous Armenian historian Movses Khorenatsi.
He combined many geographical names with the name of Armenian ancestors and patriarchs. The word Hay has been linked with the name of the legendary founder of Armenia, Haik.
To put it differently, the Armenian nation is named after Haik, while the country is names after the Armenian nation. Haik is also a very popular Armenian name for boys. The common name of Hayastan for the foreigners is Armenia. The etymology of the word is explained in several ways.
Firstly, the word is considered to be derived from Indo-European Armenoids. Secondly, the word is a combination of two Sanskrit words: “ara” meaning brave and courageous, and “mana” meaning people. That is to say, Armenia means “brave people”. And, finally the word Armenia derives from Armenak Haykazian’s name, the short name Armen, who was Haik’s son.
What is Armenian? The Legend of Hayk Nahapet and Titanid Bel
Now, let’s return to the question: Where are Armenians from? Armenian mythology has preserved some beautiful and inspiring legends concerning the origin of Armenians. The most important of these for the Armenian nation tells about Patriarch Hayk and his fight against King Bel.
This story has preserved due to the 5th century historian, Movses Khorenatsi who made several accounts about this legend and told about it in his “History of Armenia”. As we already know, Hayk was the great and legendary founder of the Armenian nation.
He is also known as Hayk Nahapet, which means forefather or patriarch in Armenian translation.
Are you looking forward to hear this story? Here we go! In Movses Khorenatsi’s account, for some time Hayk was living in Babylon with his nation. When Assyrian king Bel titled himself as “king over all” many tribes escaped from his violence and emigrated.
As for Hayk, he settled in a mountainous country near Mount Ararat.
Titanid Bel decided to send his son to convince Hayk to return. What happened next is the most thrilling and stunning part of this legend. Proud Hayk refused to accept Bel’s proposal. Mad and irritated Bel decided to assemble his army and fight against him. The two rivals met each other face to face near Lake Van.
Skillful archer Hayk rolled down Titanid Bel with a nearly impossible shot. In case you have some questions about the importance of this legend, then we should note that it is quite valuable for the Armenian nation.
It contributed for the development of Armenia’s national concept and idea on one hand. On the other hand, it fostered the formulation of Armenia’s national consciousness.
What is Armenian? Armenian Specific Characteristics
The number of Armenians in the world is about 10 million people but only one third of them live in Armenia. There are large Armenian Diasporas in Russia, USA, France, Georgia, Ukraine, Iran, Canada, etc.
The official language of Armenia is Hayeren (Armenian) that belongs to an independent branch of the Indo-European languages. It won’t be a surprise for you if we say that it is one of the oldest languages in the world, will it?
Armenian alphabet dates back to 405AD when it was first introduced by early medieval Armenian linguist, theologian, and statesman Mesrop Mashtots. The best depiction of Armenian language gave English poet George Gordon Byron: “Armenian is the language to speak with God”.
The overwhelming majority that is about 95% of Armenian population follow Christianity. But there are also the so-called religious minorities in Armenia who are believers of Russian Orthodox Church, Moslems, Hebrews, Non-Trinitarian Christianity and others.
For many centuries, historical faith of the Armenian people was the epicenter of the destructive historical events. But the positive side effects of these events were the formulation of such national characteristics and features as expressive national pride and dignity, patriotism, perseverance, hospitality and, why not, excellent sense of humor.
Armenians are considered to be a nation that belongs to the large Caucasian racial group. Here are some interested notes about physical characteristics of Armenian people. Armenians are a unique nationality that somewhat is a combination of Europeans and Caucasians. Outwardly, Armenians have pretty expressive facial characteristic.
Here are some common features that will help you visualize the image of Armenians more detailed. They are generally characterized by having well expressed and curved noses; thick eyebrows; long eyelashes; dark, mostly wavy and thick hair; white skin; super big eyes ranging from black, hazel to blue and grey colors.
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