About the Names Hayastan, Hayq and Armenia


Each geographical name has its story, origin and meaning. It has always interested people how this or that toponymic name has originated, how it has altered during the course of time and reached us. In case of careful study, they can tell us many things from the history of the given country and nation.

First of all let’s speak about the name “Hayastan”.

“Hayastan” is the name of the motherland of the Armenian people, where his historical life has passed. Its borders coincide with the borders of theArmenian plateau.Soviet Armenia occupied the Northeastern part of that plateau.

There are traditional and ethnical etymologies of the origination of the name “Hayastan”.

The first interpretation is given by the historian Moses of Chorene. He synthesizes or combines many geographical names with the names of our forefathers. By the way, this fact, which was inherited from the traditional history, is itself a very important phenomenon because the forefather of a dynasty of a tribe symbolizes not only a group universality but it also becomes the symbol of the national history.

Hayk Nahapet is considered to be our forefather and the name of our nation and country is considered to have originated from his name. It is connected with our famous saga according to which many tribes leave the violence of the Assyrian giant Bell and among them, there were our people too headed by his forefather Hayk. He comes to a high, cool and well-watered country and settles there. Bell sends a message to Hayk and tells him that he has gone to settle in those cold highlands in vain, and advises him to come back. Hayk gives the delegate a strict answer and makes him go back to Babylon. Getting angry from Hayk’s answer, he comes with a great army. Near Lake Van, in a place, which was later called Hayots Dzor, the opponents meet each other and Hayk fights against Bell. Skillful archer Hayk rolls Bell down with a single strike and scatters his army. After that, Hayk permanently settles down in that plateau. The people were named in the name of Hayk and the country was named in the name of the people. This story has reached us due to Moses of Chorene. This is the traditional etymology of the name of the Armenian people and their motherland.

Such etymology based on the traditions is characteristic for many nations of the world, which associates the name of their country with this or that epic hero or forefather. This legend is valuable from that point of view that it contributed to the development of national consciousness and national idea. “The basis of the national Armenian consciousness was laid still in the initial period when the legend of Hayk was created and the epic hero Hayk was glorified as a national hero and the forefather of the Armenian nation”. (H. Manandyan)

The next interpretation of the name “Hayastan” is ethnical and comes from the name of Hayasa nation. In the basis there is laid the name “Hay” (Armenian). “Hayasa” is the derivation of that name. The honor of this etymology belongs to the Armenologist Crachmer and the academician Ghapantsyan. The latter has dedicated to that issue the work “Hayasa, the cradle of the Armenians”. Hayasa has occupied High Hayq to the west of Lake Vana up to the Province of Yekeghyats (Yerznka) and part of Small Hakq, as well as the upper streams of Aratsani (Muradi).

In the 8th century B.C., among the tribes of the Armenian Highlands, the Hayasas and the union of Armenian-Hayasas played an important role, which have formed big Armenian tribal union.

Before Christ, mainly in the second half of the 8th century, there finishes the formation of the Armenian people, which is marked by the origination of the Armenian statehood. At first, it develops in theterritory of Urartu, which leaves the historical stage at the end of the 7th century. The tribes of Urartu are merged in the Armenian people, which were being formed. The Armenian people become the legal heirs of Urartu. From the people of Urartu we have received many toponymic names, which have undergone some changes. Among them, there are Ararat (Urartu), Van (Biayna), Tushpa (Tosp), Yerevan (Erebouni), Sevan (Suinia) and so on. Many names of forefathers and epic heroes have also maintained. Thus, Aram (Arame), Manavaz (Menuash). They connect us with Urartu. We have also received many legends. As it is known, the people formed are called Armenians in the name of the tribe “hayas”, and the country is called Hayastan. The name Hayastan was used for the first time by the 5th century historian Agatangeghos, though the suffix of the name “Hay” (Armenian) has not always been “stan”.  It was replaced by the letter “q”, which was added to the name of the people and has become the name of the country.

The word “Hayq” contains the concepts of the Armenians and Armenia. For example, the word “parsq” means both the Persians and Persia. It shows that the name of the people has become the name of the country, when the letter “q” was added.

As it is known, the historical Armenia was politically divided into two parts. Great Hayq, that is Great Armenia and Small Hayq that is Small Armenia. The first one coincides with the Armenian Highlands, where the whole political and cultural life of the Armenian people has passed and developed.

In the times of Arshakuny dynasty Great Hayq was divided into 15 states or “worlds”. Each of them in their turn was divided into provinces. In fact, these “worlds” were separate natural-historical and economic units with their traditions, taraz (clothing) and dialects. Among them were prominent Ayrarat, Vaspurakan, Syunik, Artsakh, High Hayq, Turuberan, Aghzinq, Tsopq. Ayrarat occupied a central position in Great Hayq.

Small Hayq spread from Euphrates to the west until the mountains Anti-Taurus. During the Byzantine rule, Small Hayq was divided into three administrative regions: the first Hayq, the second Hayq and the third Hayq.

Foreigners (besides Georgians and the Kurds speaking the kurmanji dialect) often call our country Armenia. The etymology of the name has several explanations. First, it is considered that the name has originated from the Indo-European tribe Armens. The second one is from the connection of the Sanskrit words ara “ari” (brave) and mana “mardik” (people). That is “brave people”. Third, according to Moses of Chorene it was called after the name of Haykazyan Aram forefather. And finally, after the name of Armenak Haykazyan, who was the son of Hayk and the short form of whose name was Armen, from which there come the names of our people and our country.

For the first time there is mentioned about the name Armen in the records of the Persian king Dareh Vshtaspyan (522—486 B.C). As it is known, during the times of his kingdom, among a number of tribes, the Armens also rebelled against him and wanted to have independence. This rebel is described in details in the polar record of Dareh A, which was carved on the high rock of Behistsun (near the Kirmanshah). The record is written in three languages: Old Persian, Elamite and Babylonian. In this record, the country of Armens is called “Armenia” and the people – Armens. From this, there come the words Armenia and Armens.

Thus, in Polish, Russian, Latin and Greek it is called Armenia, in Turkish it is Ermenistan, in Hungarian it is Ormeniorshag, in  Latvian it is Armenia, in German – Armenien, in Persian – Armenia, in Arabic – Armin or Armenia, in Old Jewish  – Tahogarama, in Aramic – Harmini, in old Persian – Armina.

the material is taken from http://armenianhouse.org/avetisyan/hayq.html

translated from Armenian into English by M.Vardanyan