12 Mar 2011
Author C. K. Garabed passes along this information:
"Turkish Colloquial Grammar by Yusuf Mardin states that chekiji means 'attractive'.
And one of my Turkish dictionaries has that definition also, and yet another says cheken means 'attractive'."
There is also this: Dictionary of Armenian Names (Tigran Avetisian, 2000, Van Aryan, Yerevan, ISBN# 99930-57-22-3) explains that "chekij" originates from the Turkic word "chekij".
Definition: “Weigh”, “Assess” and “Value”.
Also, Avetisian in his book indicates “Chekekjian” is the equivalent of “Vosgrahartar” in Armenian (translation: "bone repair specialist"), or “Hekim” (translation: "medical doctor”).
The family knows that "chekij" is not an Armenian word, and we endeavor to discover its meaning.
1 Aug 2010
We received another explanation of Chekijian, this submitted by a native of Aintab, Turkey.
He says it means "chiropractor":
"I don't think the name Chekijian has anything to do with a hammer, because, though hammer in
Turkish is "chekich", a "chekiji" is a profession.
Many Armenian surnames used to be based on that word.
In the old times, in Aintab, when somebody was injured by dislocating a bone or a joint,
they used to go to a "chekiji" of the the neighborhood they lived in, and Armenians were certainly
good in that field. "Chekiji" derived from the verb "chekmek", which means "to pull".
A chekiji would pull the bone or joint in order to restore it to health (return it to its normal position).
The chekiji profession stopped being practiced some years ago."
The spellings of the family name have changed in the 20th century, before which time it was written as
Chekichian, and following World War I, as Chekijian.
Since World War I, the name also has been spelled as follows various parts of the world: Tchekidjian,
Tchakedjian, Tchekijian, Chakijian and Chakejian.
Therefore, Chekekjian mutated from Turkish in translation to Armenian to Chekichian and then to
Arabic to Chekijian - all derived from the same origin, that of a modern day chiropractor.
If one were to adhere to the alternate version provided in the dictionary, though, the literal Armenian equivalent would be “Geshravarian” ("weights & measures manager/assessor") or figuratively in
Armenian, “Granian" - interestingly, author and educator Puzant Chekijian (1912-2004) legally
changed his name to Puzant Granian in the 1950’s (Puzant was the youngest son of Hovannes, one of
the four Chekijian brothers who were tailors in Aintab).
There is also the story that “chekij” comes from the Turkic/Arabic word “chakooj” (“hammer”, also
translated as "chekich" in Turkish).
Also consider the following Armenian article:
Vol. XXA 1984,
No. 5-6 (77-78),
Translated by Cesar J. Chekijian January
(Translation verified by author’s son Harout Chekijian)
INFORMATION ABOUT AINTAB, A TOWN IN CILICIA”
My father (Nazaret
Chekijian) used to tell of a story of how the family name Chekijian
“When I was 18 years
of age in 1890 and opened a new tailor shop in Aintab, a well known
and respected elderly Turkish man said to be over 145 years old, visited
my shop, and after conveying his good wishes for my business, he unexpectedly
“Nazar, son of Chekidj,
I have to reveal to you son, that we are cousins”
When I asked as to
how, the elderly man went on telling the story;
“When the Ottomans
invaded Cilicia in the early 16th century, conquering village
after village, they reached the garrison of Aintab, and with a major
offensive, tried to conquer it. However, due to the strong defensive
from inside the garrison, and counterattacks by the heroic Armenian
warriors from the outlying area, who in surprise attacks siege the Ottomans,
defeating them and inflicting major losses to their forces. Following
this, the Ottomans regroup and attack the garrison three more times,
each time, suffering defeat with large casualties.
The Ottoman General
leading the war was informed by the surviving military commanders, that
the Ottoman soldiers were being attacked from outside the garrison by
warriors, led by someone named Kevork, who on horseback, wielding
a large sledge-hammer (Chekidj in Turkish) with a long handle, tied
to a rope, swinging the hammer in a circular fashion over his head in
every direction, while riding his horse in the midst of the Ottoman
soldiers, was killing tens of soldiers at a time, scattering the rest
of the soldiers, who would run away just to save their lives.
In short my son, the
Ottomans surround the garrison from a distance, and send emissaries,
proposing truce with the Armenian natives of Aintab, following which,
a truce is signed in return for a nominal levy in the form of goods,
and paid services that the Armenian artisans would provide to the Ottoman
Therefore, the friendship
reigns between the Armenians and the Ottomans, with heads of the respective
communities celebrating peace jointly with festivities. During one such
event, they name the warrior on horseback with the sledge-hammer weapon,
“Chekij-Kevork” (Hammer Kevork/George)…
But the Ottomans had
not forgotten the enormous fatalities Chekij-Kevork had inflicted on
their soldiers during the battles, so one day during festivities, the
Ottomans get Chekij-Kevork intoxicated with excessive amount of liquor,
then after overpowering him, tie his arms and legs to four pegs, and
kill him by torture, skinning him alive.
As a result, Kevork’s
brothers, and their fellow fighters with their families leave the garrison
in Aintab and settle at a distant location far from Aintab, but always
ready to fight, leaving behind only one brother in Aintab, to lead and
protect the Armenian population there.
Being in great need
for the industrious Armenian artisans of Aintab for supplies, the Ottomans
deal kindly with the remaining Armenians within the garrison, and also
try to persuade the Armenians who had left Aintab, to come back and
re-settle within the garrison, but without success. So they refer to
the Armenians who decided to live outside the garrison “Keusdiv”
(The Separated), and their settlement becomes known as “Sharakuesdic”
(The Separated Neighborhood/Street).
During the recurring
violent invasions of the Ottomans and their vicious harassment of the
local Armenian population, of the period, all of the outlying Armenian
villages to Aintab were gradually depopulated, and the Armenians abandoned
their lands and settled in Aleppo, Syria (80 kilometers to the south)
and the seaside hill towns on the Mediterranean, and some in more distant
countries. Following this, most of the Armenians within the garrison
also leave for other lands and a few of the Armenians stay and convert
to Islam and assimilate with the Ottomans.
So, my son, Nazar son
of Chekidj I am a descendent of Chekij-Kevork’s brother Hovannes.
Hovannes had stayed behind, lived in the garrison and assimilated with
the Ottomans. Although my grandfather had become a Moslem, he had secretly
kept his faith and every Sunday, he used to take me to a chapel in the
Armenian quarter and used to follow the ceremonies. He was liked by
the Armenian community.
As to my father, he
used to ignore my grandfather’s advice, saying that “we are Islam
and that is it”.
My dear Nazar-Chekidj,
I feel myself Armenian too, but there is no hope in this regards with
my sons, grand-children and great-grand-children. I advise them to be
kind to Armenians”.
In Krikor Chekijians
My father Nazaret used
to sing a song; as if it was carried from “Chekij-Kevork” days.
It appears to have been written for a high ranking military leader,
to gather his troops, to liberate captured territories, which goes like
Aren’t you Armenians…? Do not relax, get your shields
Don’t put your sparkling righteous swords in your scabbards
Courageous Armenians like you sacrificed themselves
Let us unite and march ahead
enter our homeland, soon enter our homeland.
An expert told me that
this song may not be as ancient as 16th century, because
the words are not of the ancient Armenian dialect, although, shields
and swords do belong to ancient warfare.
It is curious that
all the Chekijians that I have heard about invariably carry the names
Kevork, Hovannes, Krikor and other such names that have been maintained
in our family’s tradition for generations.
My father used to tell
me that his grandfather was one of 18 brothers, who were all tailors,
scattered all the way to the Balkans, but always maintaining contact
with their brothers who stayed in Aintab.
All Chekijians were
courageous nationalists, and faithful to the Armenian heritage and Christianity.
Physically most were tall, strong, fair haired, and with blue eyes.
Over time, the Chekijian
men married with Armenian women who had relocated to Aintab with their
families from various regional communities such as Sevaz, Kentush, Amanos,
Garine, Ashod, Arapgir, Kharpert and Sassoon, with that, the typical
ancestral physical characteristics have been lost such as the built,
fair hair and blue eyes.
My mother’s family
had come from Sassoon, but my father had maintained his ancestral tall
and strong physique with fair hair and blue eyes. My mother was
also fair haired and blue eyed, but she was not as tall as my father.
These are ancestral
accounts passed on through the word-of-mouth, which I have written about
the origin of the name Chekijian. They might be true in part.
What intrigue me are
the few villages of Arabic speaking Armenians near Antioch, or our compatriots
living in Jebel Musa region, where every village has its own Armenian
dialect. Where have they come from and why have they settled there,
at these isolated and rugged coastal foothills until today.
End of article.
And if you’re waiting for an explanation of the “ian” in Chekijian, here’s the rule: in all Armenian family names it means “son of”. That doesn’t mean that every last name that ends in “ian” (or sounds like it does) makes that person Armenian, of course (i.e. Guckian, Trevelyan, Killian).