Stepanos Taronatsi’s Arabic Chekastan

Armenia on both sides borders hostile states. It doesn’t matter whether this hostility is secretive or wrapped in some kind of an excuse – what matters is that there is hostility. And of course, any enemy in some way preserves the memory of himself in the language of a defending nation, especially when it comes to an enemy of not only your state but also the nation.

Armenians have plenty of rude but just words characterizing their opponents, but does Armenian literature have anything else? Is there a word in literary Armenian that can designate an enemy? Stepanos Taronatsi had the answer.

Stepanos Taronatsi was the author and the only user of the term “Chekastan”. So he called the Arab Caliphate which already had epithets like “fire dragon”, the “harbinger of the Apocalypse”, the “barbarian land”, and many others. All this for massive and brutal raids, for burning cities, causing hunger, devastating silver mines, and the killing of Armenian nakharars.

The word comes from two roots – “check (chka)”, which can be translated literally as “no” or “nonexistence”, and “stan”, which means “country”. Given the syllable of Taronatsi, “Chekastan” literally translates as “nonexistent country” or “country that should not exist.”

For Taronatsi who was very defensive of his homeland, the country of Arabs had no right to exist for all their sins committed in the world, including on Armenian soil. The term is so capacious and familiar to Armenians that it can be applied not only to Arabs.

Unfortunately, the fate of the Armenians is not as favorable as that of other prosperous peoples. Moreover, most of Armenia has been and is surrounded not by “eghbayrner” (brothers) or “barekamner” (relatives, literally translates as “those who wish good”) but “chekastans” who have come one after another.

Original post by Arthur Hakobyan – Antitopor

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