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Our Last Name is Gavoor

PrintPrintSendSendPDFPDFBy Mark Gavoor, Glenview IL, 10 September 2009
Our family name is Gavoor.   People are always asking me about our name and its origins.  These questions come in two forms.
 
First and foremost, we are Armenian.  People that are not Armenian always try to guess what our ethnic heritage is.  Most often I am asked, “Is that a Hungarian name?”  I know that is coming from the three Gabor sisters, Zsa Zsa, Eva, and the third sister whose name always escapes me though Google informs is Magda.  When you say Gabor and Gavoor, they sound the same.  Others think the name is Dutch.  I have no idea why they think this.  Maybe it is the double o’s?  I am not sure.  Then, if the non-Armenian inquirers knew anything at all about Armenians, they add a follow-up question, “I thought most Armenian names ended in ‘ian’?”
 
Second, inquiries come from Armenians.  While I feel I have an Armenian name, the name is not Armenian, technically.  It is a Turkish word.  But, it is not just any Turkish word.  It is indeed the Turkish derogatory word giavur  or gâvur in modern Turkish, which means infidel.  It used to be Karagiavurian, which is even worse.  A karagiavur is a black infidel.  It is akin to a Black American having Nigger as a surname.  Actually, in Kharpert from where our family is from,  the name is pronounced, Kharagiavurian.  The “Kh” is a country or rural pronunciation of  “K.”  So, Armenians question why I have such a shocking surname.  

I am writing this short piece because of a recent question posed by a new friend Dikran Abrahamian.  He was not so much shocked but wondering more so if the name meant what he thought it meant.  I gave him my standard answer and he thought it was a story well worth documenting.  I already thought I had documented this recently for my cousin David Gavoor, but upon scouring my gmail and hard drive, there was nothing.  So, for family, friends, and Dikran, I am writing about it now.

Less so now than when I was younger, the Armenians of my grandparents' generation, that generation that somehow survived the 1915 Genocide, would ask me my name.  They wanted to know whose son or grandson I was.  I would tell them and see their faces contort from smile to disbelief.  In Armenian, they would say, “Giavur, what kind of name is that.  Do you know what it means?”  When I told them that I knew what it meant, they would then say, “Why do you have such a name?  You have to change that.”  I never really gave a good answer.  Usually, I say that if it was good enough for my grandfather, it was good enough for me and I would never change it.  

Later, probably from my failed attempts at being a defiant hippie, I actually liked the fact of having non-believer as a last name:  Non-believer, not buying in, doubter. I applied it more to the organizational rhetoric created by man than to anything religious.  The bottom line was, however, that I was not going to change the name.  I am a Gavoor.  I am proud of that.  If I ever were to change it, I would only consider Gavoorian and even more likely, Kharagiavurian.  Of course, that might limit my ability to visit Turkey.  

Many Armenians have Turkish surnames.  Often these names have to do with the family profession back when last names were being adopted.   It must be noted that in that part of the world, the adoption of family names was a relatively recent event.  I am guessing with the past 200 years. I know Palandjians (Saddle Makers), Zildjians (Cymbal Makers), Odabashians (Inn Keepers), Kouyumjians (Jewelers), and more.  Some Armenians would like to rid our nation of these Turkish rooted surnames.  My last name makes these same folks even more agitated.

How did we get this name?  How did we become Black Infidels?  I asked my Great Uncle Rouben this once.  He told me the following.  The family was originally from Sepastia (modern day Sivas).   The name was originally Eflian (I have no clue as to the meaning of this surname).  One day, during the harvest season, the family was working in the fields into the night by the light of bonfires.  As it happened, the Sultan and his entourage were either encamped nearby or passing through.  The Sultan noticed these bonfires in the distance and was curious about what was going on.  He sent an emissary or scout to check out the situation.  The scout came back and said, “Armenians are harvesting in the light of these fires.”  The Sultan then ordered that the leader or eldest of the Armenians be brought to him.   Upon being brought to the Sultan, my presumable ancestor was asked, “What are you Armenians up to?”  My ancestor responded, “We are working our harvest.  We didn’t finish in the daylight and as our family motto is ‘do not leave today’s work for tomorrow,’ we are working under the firelight to finish.”  The Sultan thought a moment and said, “Ah, you giavurs are something else.”  He reflected another moment and added, “In fact, that shall be your family name, Kharagiavur, from now on.”  Voila, upon decree of the Sultan we became the Kharagiavur clan or in Armenian Kharagiavuriantz of the Kharagiavurs or sons of the Kharagiavurs.  In time, it simply became Kharagiavurian.

Uncle Rouben went on to say that other branches of the family go by Gavoorian and Karian which got mistranslated to Stone thinking that ‘Kar’ was of the Armenian for stone and not Turkish word for the color black.  Uncle Rouben’s brother Sisak had the surname Gavoorian.  The Karian branches of the family were in Los Angeles, Fresno, and Paris.  I have no idea where I might find the Stones but my guess is that they were more interested in being part of the American melting pot than maintaining and sustaining their Armenian heritage.

Uncle Rouben was the youngest of the children of Mardin and Mariam Kharagiavurian of Keserig, a village of Kharpert.  There were three daughters: Markarid, Arshalouys, and Yeghsa.  There were also three sons:  Aram, Sisak, and Rouben.  I knew all of them with the exception of Markarid.  I know or knew all of their children born in the US.  Arshalouys had been married in Keserig but her husband was killed in the massacres and her daughter was left behind never to have been heard from.   Aram and Arshalouys seemed to be the most knowledgeable according to family lore but had passed before I was old enough to seriously discuss any of these kinds of issues with them.  

In the early 1990s, I was talking with Arsha’s daughters Florence and Grace.  We were talking about family history and they were relating stories their mother had told them. I brought up the story of the Sultan and how we came to be Gavoors.  Grace, the oldest, said, “That is a story Uncle Rouben used to tell and my mother said that it wasn’t true.”  I was a little disappointed.  There are very few stories like this that survived the Genocide.  The vast majority of Armenians do not know very much of their family history before the generation of the survivors.  So, I let the story go.

Shortly after that, I was at our church, The Armenian Church of the Holy Ascension in Trumbull, CT.  During the coffee hour, I was talking with Varoujan Kochian.  I always liked Varoujan.  He reminded me of that first survivor generation.  He was from Yozgat and a sturdy man of the land.  He embodied hard work with a humble though proud attitude.  Varoujan was about my parents' age.  He asked about my last name.  I was about to give the standard speech, explain what I have explained here when he offered a story that he had heard.  He basically told the same story Uncle Rouben told.  Varoujan did not mention the Eflian name, but other than that the story was the same.  I was a bit stunned and impressed especially since Yozgat was not near Kharpert and closer to Sebastia.  So, maybe Uncle Rouben wasn’t so far off.  The mathematician in me could ignore one data point, but with two I can establish trend, I can draw a line through two points.  I think that this story is definitely legend, but a legend rooted in some truth.  I would love to know the name of the Sultan to at least get a time frame on this story.

There are other Kharagavoorians.  I corresponded for a short time with a gentleman in Aleppo, Syria.  He is a friend of the choirmaster at our church in Glenview, IL.  Given our families were rooted in different regions, we concluded we were not related.  I asked about the uniqueness of the name to our cousin and noted historian Richard Hovannisian whose mother was a Kharagavoorian and whose family took the Karian name in the US.  He said it was more common than I had thought and attributed the Sultan story to lore.

I wonder why my grandfather Aram shortend the name Gavoor?  I never got to ask him as he died in 1959 when I was only six and not yet aware of all this.  Yet, I know some of his contemporaries from the same village or region took names like Kamar and Karentz.  My guess is that as a group they decided to not use the typical ‘ian.’  I like to think they wanted to be different and, in their own way independent.  I like that and think it adds to my own desire to maintain the Gavoor name.  My grandfather was pretty well educated having gone to school and even college in Kharpert.  He most certainly knew the meaning of the word giavur and selected this one part of the family name as his.  I like to believe he did it in defiant pride.

Uncle Rouben is the only Gavoor that I know has visited the Republic of Turkey.  I asked him if he had any trouble with the name there.  He said the spelling Gavoor versus the modern word gâvur was different enough that no one even suspected.

My sister Nancy’s middle name is Carrie, an anglicized version of Kara.  My sister Ani went a step further and named her daughter Kara.
 
As I said, I wear this name proudly and a bit defiantly.  After all, it may have been bestowed upon us by a Sultan.


You may wish to visit Mark's Blog at
http://thissideoffifty.blogspot.com


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Comments

Clarification About "Gavur"

Hi Mr. Gavoor,

For the sake of a clarification on your name, I thought you should know the Turkish word 'gavur' is also applied to non-Muslim foreigners in general, not just those who don't believe in God (those who don't believe in Allah, you see). So you can be a devout Christian and still be called Gavoor. You don't have to be a rebel non-believer to bear that name. I think the word has a nice ring to it phonetically. And there's a great story behind it, so it seems, about a sultan . It's a good thing you didn't change it.

I shouldn't think it would be a problem for you to visit Turkey, even if you had an obviously Armenian name. We have some tight-knit Armenian communities in the big cities which would welcome Armenians from the U.S. and would love to hear their stories.

It's interesting that you're from Mardin.  My paternal grandparents are from Mardin too. My grandmother's mother was a 7-year-old Armenian girl who was left by her family to the care of their Turkish neighbors right before the "great exile" because they thought she wouldn't survive the difficult journey in the winter. I guess they thought they could come back one day to get her. They never came back. She was raised as a Muslim Turkish girl and lived the rest of her life that way. I heard many cases like these in the Southeastern Anatolia region... families leaving their little children behind with their Turkish friends and neighbors, because they thought they might come back to get them. Even stories of some Armenian families hiding with their Turkish neighbors throughout the exile period. I suppose a few of these diverse communities were united by peace and friendship so much so that taking the Armenians away wasn't a justified action.

Anyway.  You have a great story.

Regards.

 Dear Mr. Gavoor

Dear Mr. Gavoor,

My ancestors came from the eastern part of Turkey. I listened to many stories from my grandparents about the incidents from 1914 to 1920 which you think were genocide. So many bad things happened to our Turkish grandparents that they hardly survived Armenian terrorists.

You and your family have a great imagination. Two-hundred years ago or any time in the Ottoman Empire, the sultan could not give someone a family name. At that time people used their father's and grandfather's name. Maybe you had an ancestor whose name sounded like "gavoor" in Turkish and officials wrote that name down. You shouldn't be proud with that name, because it has an additional bad meaning besides the dictionary meaning.

I am very open to give you more information about regional history and what happened between Turks and Armenians.

Best wishes to you and to your family.

Mr. Oghuzhan and his ignorant comments

Sir...you have a tremendous amount of arrogance to come on to an Armenian blog and question the validity of the genocide that you and I both know happened.  We don't just think that it was a genocide sir, it was a genocide. The majority of historians who are experts on such subjects agree that any situation in which that many people were brutally killed is a genocide. That's the end of it. The Sisak mentioned in the above information was my grandfather and I can tell you that our family was not simply full of imagination, if that story was one that was passed down from Ruben and Arum and their brother,then it did happen.

Translating Mr. Oguzhan's

1."My parents came from the eastern part of Turkey."
He means Western Armenia.

2."I listened to many stories from my grandparents about the incidents from 1914 to 1920..."
He means the Genocide.

3."So many bad things happened to our Turkish grandparents..."
Unlike their neighbors, my grandparents somehow failed to kill Armenians and steal their property.
Frustrated, they moved from Western Armenia.

4."You and your grandparents have great imagination."
You and your grandparents are telling the unacceptable truth.

5."I am very open to give you more information about regional history and about what happened between Turks and Armenians."
Our government has tons of falsifications which I can send you free of charge. Ankara will pay shipping and handling charges.

6."Best wishes to you and to your family."
I am so disappointed your family somehow slipped from our yataghan and survived to escape to the United States.                                                               

Better translating

 1."My parents came from the eastern part of Turkey."
He means Western Armenia.

Turks have much more population in Anatolia for almost 1000 years. You can call it Armenia for the memory of Ancient times. You live in Canada, North America. Where are the local people? So you have to call this country Apachee land or Cherokee land any more and let you give the land back to this minorty! Very funny of you! I can only lough about it! Try to live today not 2,000 years ago!

2."I listened to many stories from my grandparents about the incidents from 1914 to 1920..."
He means the Genocide.

If you want to call it Genocide, you may call it Armenian terrorists tried to make Genocide to Turks to leave their land. So the Armenians could say majorty is not Turks. This is totaly truth! I can show you which Turkish villages burnt down and so many killed. Also from my grandparents family all dead except 1 or 2 people.  

 

3."So many bad things happened to our Turkish grandparents..."
Unlike their neighbors, my grandparents somehow failed to kill Armenians and steal their property. 
Frustrated, they moved from Western Armenia.

They didn't leave their country like yours because we managed to save our land. It is your problem that you tried and failed. If you try such a thing (to take land from Turks) you must consider to kill or to be killed. So you stop crying anymore!

 
Finally, You always try to live at 100 years ago when it was war and so many people have been killed on bothsides. If I were you, I haven't mentioned a word that my grandparents try to take land from Turks and he has been kicked forever! You may sit down in a naive manner and you may visit Turkey to pray about their souls. I think they will be more happy to be heard a pray better then yelling the Turks kicked us everywhere!!
 

Translating Ogouzhan

"The Turks have much more population in Anatolia for almost 1000 years."                                                                                                                                          I'm glad Keghart editors didn't edit Ogouzhan's letter to make it readable. Ogouzhan's command of English is as bad as his knowledge of history. "The Turks have much more population in Anatolia for almost 1000 years" is lousy English. There should also be a comma after 1 in 1000. The comma is deleted for dates, not numbers, Ogouzhan.

Putting aside Ogouzhan's elementary English, let's look at his assertions.

1. When Seljuk and later Ottoman Turks invaded Armenia, the Armenian population statistics were naturally higher than those of the marauders of Central Asia. After the 14th century Turkish numbers began to increase because Turkish massacres of Armenians, forced Turkification, kidnappings, confiscation of Armenian lands and other property, userous taxation and non-stop persecution of Armenians. What Ogouzhan is saying is a variation of Tala'at infamous quote: "What Armenian Question? There are no Armenians." Western Armenia belongs to Turks because we, Turks, killed all Armenians or drove them out of their homeland. That's what Ogouzhan is saying.

2. Ogouzhan states that Armenian terrorists killed Turks so that Armenians would become the majority in Anatolia. According to him, a handful Armenian fighters (fedayeen), equipped with antiquated weapons, home-made guns, little ammunition, little money, and even fewer fighters took on the Ottoman Empireand its army, not to mention armed Turkish civilians and Kurdish bandits. This is the same Ottoman Empire which declared war on the Russian Empire by bombarding Odessa and other Russian Black Sea ports in 1914. Yes, two-million Armenians--mostly peasants scattered over a huge territory and without communication or transportation facilities--decided to commit genocide against 20 million plus Turks and take over Anatolia. Ogouzhan, you must be cramming on Nassreddin Hoja tales.

3. Turks didn't leave "their" country, like the Armenians, and saved their lands, says Ogouzhan. That statement unintentionally proves that it was the Turks who drove out the Armenians and not the reverse. By the way, if Turks didn't leave "their" country, how come you aren't in Morocco? In Yemen? In Baghdad? In Greece? In Serbia? Why did you leave "your" lands?  Yes, yes, I know: Armenians drove you out of Casablanca, Tunis, Tripoli, Sana'a...

4. You "accuse" Armenians of living "100 years ago" and say many people died at the time. At the same time you cite history and claim Turks have been majority in Anatolia for a thousand years. Make up your mind: do you want to cite history or don't you?                                                                                        
"Many people were killed at the time" is one of Ankara's favorite propaganda spins. Many people (including innocent Armenians) were killed because:

a) Turkey declared war on Russia, France, and Britain;                                                    b) Turkey killed members of occupied nations who demanded freedom from the Turkish yoke (Arabs,  Serbians, Bulgarians, etc.);                                                              c) 1.5 million civilian Armenians were killed by Turks to make Turkey a "purely" Turkish country.

The few Turks, who were killed by Armenians, were victims of their own blood thirst. Some Armenians, who had the means, defended themselves against the Turkish army, Kurdish bandit, and racist Turkish civilian attacks.

There's too much nonsense, propaganda, incomprehensible English in Ogouzhan's letter to merit a more extensive response. If he posts another of these delirious missives, I doubt I would bother replying.

Mesrob

No Need to Translate

First of all, I want to mention that I may have poor English but I thank God not to have poor mind!

I respect your history knowledge, but I think you should try to read other perspectives about history. You have read only from one side. Also I respect who have killed both Armenian and Turk, but I am afraid you don't respect Turkish deaths. My grandparents hardly survived from these days and I listened so many savagery from Armenians to Turkish children and women. But I am afraid you don't want to listen others problems!

Let's come to the point. Your elementary history knowledge mixed everthing to create an Armenian state. Seljuk period from 11th to 14th century captured the Anotolia and Turks started to live from Iran to Egean Sea. Ottomans ruled from 15th to 20th century. Do you think if Turks wanted to kill all Armenians during nearly 900 years, Could anyone survive? Of course not. Not anyone would survive, not anyone speak Armenian.
 
These Turkish empires ruled every nation according to their loyalty. If a Turkish tribe rebel they are also punished. The rebellions usually did migrated to another land. Only the leaders may have death penalty.
Your poor Armenians with "antiquated weapons" killed so many Muslim paople  to fear them and migrate from their homeland. At that time Russians and other Europeans helped your Terrosists. They used every weapon including cannon! If you look at the map you will see the Eastern Turkish border was close to Russia.
So the goverment migrated Armenians to another land. But the conditions were poor at that time. So many are dead from deseases and also some of them from Kurdish tribes. Because the Terrorist Armenians were killed so many Turkish and Kurdish civilians.
 
I listened so many memories from my Grandfather and mother. They saw so many Turkish children, women and also soldiers are dead from diseases, cold weather, terrorist attacks etc. Almost 4 million of Turkish civilians are dead during the war.
 
Another point is that, you think every nation should stay where they live! It is such a funny idea that maybe most of the nations changed their homeland and migrated other places. 
For example, almost 1.000 years ago so many Turkish tribes were living half of Russia (crimea, urals etc) and China. So what we have to do? Give you back the Eastern Anatolia and take half of Russia! very funny of you! You may ask Russians to do that and you will be kicked for sure!
 
Also I can recommend you so many books that writen by your lovely friends (Europeans). Almost 300 or 400 years ago, they visited Eastern Turkey (you call it Armenia!) and they wrote that maximum 20-30% of population is Armenian. Also they can speak their language and keep their religion. They are surprised because at that time Other religions (like Jews and Muslims in Spain) couldn't manage to survive at Europe. Also Catholics killed so many Protestans!
 
I hope you will read more History (also from opposite literature) after this arguement. And don't forget that nations are not totaly good or bad! There are good and bad people at every society. Wake up from your dream that Turkish are all bad and Armenians are very good. You can not blame a nation to do the Genocide. From 1918 to 1922 Istanbul is captured by Europeans, they arrested so many Turkish politicians and made a court about 1915 incidents but noone found guilty!
So the case is closed.

Unbroken History

There's a 700 plus years of unbroken history of genocides by the Turks against  Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks, Pontic Greeks, Kurds, Syriacs and more...

Hell will freeze over and pigs will fly before Turkey can be truthfully portrayed as a tolerant and civilized democracy.

Turkish contribution to history:

  • Stealing other cultures and history
  • Genocide of several nations
  • Destruction
  • Ethnic cleansing
  • Abduction of children
  • Extreme intolerance and unparallelled cruelty
  • Brutal and inhuman killings
  • Stealing
  • Rape
  • Forcibly converting children and women to Islam
  • Genocide denying

...and more

List of Pogroms by Azerbaijan against Armenians:

  • 1905-1907: First Armenian massacres by Azeri Tatars in Shushi, Baku, Nakhichevan and Elizavetpol
  • 1918 massacres in Baku
  • 1920 massacres in Shushi
  • 1988 February massacres in Sumgait
  • 1988 November massacres in Kirovabad
  • 1990 January massacres in Baku
  • 1992 April massacres by the Azerbaijani army of the Maragha Armenians
  • 2012 blaming Armenians for the Khojali massacre that was done by the Azerbaijani army; read the truth here.

All of the above are documented and proven facts...and the world has still not punished the Turkish/Azeri criminals. Yet the world wonders why new genocides are taking place.

Some Translation

Ogouzhan,

As I said in my previous letter, I will not reply to you if you continue your nonsense letters. For one thing I don't know where to start to tear your false data and logic apart.

However, I want to point out something to Keghart readers. Ououzhan's letter was sent more than two years after Mr. Gavoor article appeared in Sept. 2009. There was a similar case when another person fenced with me two years after a certain article had appeared in Keghart. In both cases the tardy letter writers are Turks. Why the two years plus delay in response, specially since both Turks were firmly convinced that Turks had not mistreated Armenians and that Armenians had killed Turks? It would be easy to suspect that there's some kind of Ankara office where people are hired to go through Armenian websites and to "respond" to Armenians. Seems Ankara has a backlog of these replies to write. Perhaps Ankara should hire more people like Okouzhan to handle their pile of denialist responses.

To Mesrob

Your assesement of Oguzhan's reply being two years late is very resonable. This reminds me of another Turkish trick which was a pathethic attempt  to do their dirty job. In these days of sophisticated and fast computers it's inexplicable when a response takes to a posting takes a year or even more.

The Turkish government ( I assume,  who else ?) has various automatic spam programs. Whenever the word  Turk, Turkey are mentioned in cyber space it spews all kinds of garbage. Come Thanksgiving time, when turkey is the hot topic of the week, all kinds of spam start to come forth. Does it talk about how to baste a turkey? Here comes Turkish answer totally unrelated to the subject. How about  the subject of carving a turkey....here comes denying the Genocide of Armenians....It is quite funny.

Expert Armenian Automatic Responders

I really wonder who is the automatic responder of the fake Armenian genocide. Of course you the foolish blind armenians. All you say is a total lie. You can not resist the truth and start lying and try to distort the truth. If you want to beleive all these lies about the fake genocide, just go on crying.

Bye bye idiots! 

Last Words

You can not answer my letter logically because you are not logical. If you are suspicious about my identity, you can easily visit my office in Istanbul and meet me there. I am a civil engineer and an ordinary Turkish man. I am not a hired person. I don't need to be hired to tell the truth I heard from my grandparents. Also many historians tell the truth, but you are blind.

You call tell your lies around the world, but you have to learn that so many people in Turkey know the truth. The genocide is a total lie. Many people  were killed in the war because it was war. If you say innocent Armenians were killed, I say innocent people was murdered on both sides. It was not genocide. You and I have to feel sorry for both sides deaths. At least we can  agree on that. Finally, you can find a way to answer me that killing people is  bad no matter the aim.

You call it "fight for your country" so do we! I hope some day people will understand a way to live in peace without killing others.I only laugh about your suspicious mind. If you visit our country you will see Turks are very friendly and not racist. You are Armenian, I am Turk but we can be friends better then other nationalities. We have so many things in common, but first stop telling it was genocide. You are calling a nation totally  murderer but we are not.
 

Aski Tass

Oguzhan,

I believe you have a saying : "Aski tass; aski hamman." You don't learn, despite my attempts to educate you. Right of the bat, even in your first sentence, you dip into falsehood when you invite me to your Istanbul office to discuss Armenian/Turkish issues. You and anyone reading that invitation knows that it's a false gesture, a meaningless ploy. Everyone knows you will not pay for the trip and neither will I travel to Istanbul to hold a discussion with you. Empty talk, in other words. Arabs call it: ""Kalam faregh." Typical of you.

You say many historians agree with the stories your grandparents told you. Who are these many historians? I bet they are Turkish or hired foreign "historians" who beat the Turkish drum because their books are published or bought by Ankara or their university chairs are funded by the Turkish government. Since it's obvious that the only language you command is Turkish, I would conclude that you have no history source other than ones allowed by the Turkish government.

I have already replied to your comment that "many people died because there was war." Reread my previous letter so that you don't repeat the authorized Turkish spin. You also repeat the hypocritical wish that Armenians and Turks can be friends. The wish is meaningless. Of course the murderer wants to make peace and be forgiven; of course the thief wants to keep what he stole and become friends with his victim. In English they say: "To eat your cake and have it, too." You stole our 4,000-year old homeland, your killed 1.5 million innocent Armenians, you deported 500,000 to the Syrian Desert, you raped, looted, kidnapped children and Turkified countless Armenians... and now you want your crimes to be forgotten. Nice. And since Armenians will not respond like sheep to your offer of friendship, Armenians become troublemakers, people who are against peace and friendship. Your peasant foxiness insults the intelligence of even a five-year-old Armenian.

Asia Minor/Anatolia belongs to Armenians, to Greeks, and to the Kurds. Turks were blood thirsty usurpers. You are from Central Asia. That's where your Turanic brothers still live. Your ancestors were barbarians who destroyed the ancient civilizations of the Middle East with their yataghans. You had no cuisine other than the shish kebab and now claim all the Middle Eastern dishes as Turkish. You came from the deserts of Central Asia... a place where there is no eggplant (the Imam Bayendi which you claim as Turkish), there was no zucchini or vine (the dolma and sarma you claim as Turkish) and on and on. Your ancestors couldn't cook properly and that's why there's steak Tartar. Every cultural heritage you claim to be Turkish was approproated from Persians, Armenians, Arabs, Greeks, Assyrians... You are now a hybrid people who claim to be pure Turks. "Happy is the man who calls himself Turk!" What a laugh! What blatant racism and insecurity. Your religion is Arab, your alphabet was Arab until an Armenian helped you acquire the Latin alphabet, your "music" is repetitive wail borrowed from Arabs and Iranians, you have one good novelist (Orhan Pamuk) whom you persecute. Your other good novelists are Kurds. After the conquered nations raised your "civilization" to sort of an acceptable standard, you either killed them or deported them. And now you want to see forgiveness, brotherhood, peace with your victims. The gall!

There will be no peace between Armenians and Turks until Turkey returns our lands, until Turkey compensates for the genocide, for the theft of Armenian property. Do you know there are more than 2,000 derelict or confiscated Armenian churches in Turkey? Forget about the schools and other community centres. Oguzhan, go back to your drafting board and dream other sweet words with the hope of persuading Armenians to forget 600 years of the Turkish yoke which culminated with the genocide of Armenians. Contemporary Turks didn't kill Armenians. However, they are as guilty as their yataghan-wielding grandparents when they deny the genocide and refuse to meet the just demands of Armenians. As every genocide scholar knows, denial is the last act of genocide. If you deny the genocide then you are a nation of murderers. Finally, you are guilty because you, as a nation, have benefited from the killing of Armenians and the theft/confiscation of their property. It's a well-known fact that in the early years of his dictatorship, your drunken and syphlitic Ataturk depended on stolen Armenian loot (family jewelery) to fund his rapacious army.

Eski Hamam, Eski Tas...2

Mesrob.
Forget Oguzhan. There are too many brainwashed Turks. All they are doing is putting themselves into  ridicule. Trying to teach them is a hopeless attempt. There is a saying in Turkish, " Deveye kahve icirmek". It means to make the camel drink coffee is an impossible task. Thus Oguzhan can not accept the truth, just like a camel which will not drink coffee.

forget about your obsessive ideas

 You are such a psychopath that yelling with full of foam in your mouth.

I do not ask forgiveness from your idiot identity. You act like you are the totally enemy of a nation. It means you are the enemy of human being. Because you are totally racist, fascist that trying to blame a nation totally. We didn't make Genocide for Armenians, but if anyone again fight to take our land, he will be killed surely.

You and the people like you all deserve to be wiped out from Anatolia. You will only dream to have this land.

Your hearts full of anger that not any religion could accept. So you shouldn't fight for Christianity or any religion.

I let you free with your anger and mind disease.

Angry Engineer

To desribe me you use words and sentences such as: "...psychopath with full of foam in the mouth...idiot...total enemy of a nation...enemy of the human being...totally racist, fascist...trying to blame a nation totally... will be killed totally...you deserve to be wiped out...your anger and mind disease." You also say that my heart is full of anger.

Read your letter and tell me whose heart is full of anger.

Mark, do not get disappointed

Mark, do not get disappointed. There is another interpretation to Gavoor,  I checked in the Armenian dictionary. There is also the Armenian word Kavoor, the meaning is Godfather, Genkahayr. In different languages there are similar words. If the Armenians in Kharpert were Armenian speaking, then it may have this interpretation. So, you can be proud twice, without getting disappointed, of being Kavoor, as Godfather too.

My Grandfather's Last Name

My grandfather's last name was Giavurdelis. My father changed it to Giavredelis, though through the years there were many misspellings of the name in paperwork.  He was from Giavur Koy near Pergamos.

 A Greek friend told me about

 
A Greek friend told me about the surname "Giavouridis" still in use in Greece.

Although derogatory, the word "gavur" is not as harsh as, say, "kaffir" in daily Turkish usage.  I've heard an old man calling his naughty grandson "gavurun dolu" - "spawn of gavur".

We were taught in secondary school history class that the use of the word was banned because of the pressure by Western powers in the 1876 Constitution, thereby it became punishable to use the word against someone. But then, I guess, as many other late Ottoman reforms, it stayed on the paper....

Gavour/Kafir has evolved in

 

Gavour/Kafir has evolved in meaning in some countries and cultures. For example, the distinctive "yoghourt'' of South Africa is called kafir. In recent years it has been introduced to North American supermarkets. I have no idea why that particular type of yoghourt is called kafir.

Collective response to Mark, John, and Anahid



Mark, Saatji means watchmaker in Arabic. Turks "borrowed" the word from Arabs. You might have heard of the Saachi Brothers of UK. They have a famous advertising agency by that name (they handled Margaret Thatcher's election campaign) and have a superb collection of modern art. They are Jews from Baghdad.

John, Kara means black in Turkish--Karakorum, Karabagh, Shabin-Karahissar, etc.

Anahid, Re Boshgezenian and walking without purpose. Idling. I don't know whether it's a coincidence, but entertainer (Monty Python) Eric Idle is the cousin of Toronto-born but British -raised conductor Ounjian.

seriously?

Mr. Gavoor,

If you feel so strongly about the current situation, I suggest you take action and be decisive by changing your last name to whatever origin it is.

It is sad that your expose is really a microcosm of the problems plaguing Armenians and Armenian society - the failure to adequately address the situation and the desire for attention and sympathy.

In fact, the only thing that one can gather from your piece is that you have a desire to be recognized as a victim, and be applauded for being a victim.

However, this is not what Armenia or Armenians need - strong individuals with character. If you really want to write about something, DO SOMETHING, like changing your last name back, rather than keeping a name that denotes your victimhood, and praises how you have been emasculated

Boghos

Thanks for the advice Boghos

Boghos

If I were to change my last name it would be Karagiavurian.  I wear this name proudly and with a certain defiance.  Emasculating?  Hardly.  At least not to me.  Not in the way I look at it.

As for doing something... I do what writers do, I write.  I do what musicians do, I play.  I do what teachers do, I teach.  I do what Armenians do, survive.

I do appreciate your sentiments and point of view, I just do not entirely agree with you.

Regards,

Mark

Meaning of "gavour", "giavour"


I'm not sure if anyone has posted this but Gavour/gavoor is also turkish for infidel.  It was a derogatory curse meant to identify christians, specifically Armenians, as outsiders, despite their Ottoman citizenship.  More investigation into the time when your family was FORCED to change their name would uncover an undoubtedly remarkable story.


Best

Genealogy

Dear Mr. Gavoor,

What is your email? I would like to contact you. Mine is XXXXXXXXX

Best regards,

Hovann Simonian

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Mark Gavoor

So what's so bad about the family name Gavoor? Long before I knew what it meant I knew of the very large family from the mid west that were devoted Armenians, proud of their heritage, history and well respected in the community. I know Badjaksoozians and Eshekians and I really never paid much mind to the meanings of their names nor did I ever care --- it's the person that bears the name that counts! My name is not that complicated but people throughout my life have butchered it at least 40 or 50 different ways, incredible.

"A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet"  Gavoor --- sounds pretty damn good to me!

Mirakian Family

Hi Mike,

You might probably already know about it, but there is quite an interesting section on the history of the Mirakian family in the book by Boghos Yerevanian on Charsandjak.

If you do not read Armenian but French, most of the story is available in the book in French by Raymond Kevorkian, Les Arméniens dans l'Empire Ottoman à la veille du Génocide (Paris: 1992).

If you need further information, my email is [email protected]

Best,
Hovann

Thanks for commenting Mike

Good to hear from you.
I have heard of Eshekians before.

All the best
Mark

From Locksmith to Watchman

Anahid

Thank you for the meaning of Eflian.  I did always want to learn how to pick a lock.  This probably stems from my latent desire for espionage than any genetic predisposition.

Ones profession and last name are rarely linked these days.  Here are two examples.  I knew a fellow in NYC.  His name is Sadian (Saatjian).  He was indeed a watchmaker.  I met the Colgate-Palmolive factory manager in Turkey.  His name was Saboncu and he ran the soap factory!

Thanks again,
Mark

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