THE CUSTOM OF INTERCOMMUNITY MARRIAGES AMONG THE CRIPTO ARMENIANS OF TURKEY
Among the Islamized Armenians in Turkey the group of cripto Armenians is especially distinguished on the level of self-consciousness, which in comparison with the other groups of Islamized Armenians aspires at preserving its national characteristic. This very group secretly continues preserving and maintaining many elements of national, religious customs. It is not out of place to mention that cases of converting religion (readopting Christianity) were mainly recorded among the representatives of this group. It is noteworthy and at the same time very important that in their family life as well the Armenians of this group have preserved interesting manifestations of self-consciousness, the one to be pointed out is intercommunity marriages.
Hiding their identity cripto Armenians not only secretly continue some national-religious customs, but also aspire getting married with cripto Armenians like them. At that, while contracted such marriages age factor, class, social and other differences are considered to be secondary, besides, such marriages further closed mode of life the cripto Armenians carry on. The institute of internal marriages also supposes an existence of a certain network among cripto Armenians, which provides a chance for them to know each other, at least at distance. Sometimes to this version’s favor speaks the geography of such marriages, when the inhabitants of quite distant villages get married. There are some facts which make a ground to suppose that marriages are also contracted especially among the Armenians which converted their religion and the ones not concealing their identity. One of such examples is Sadiq Bakirjoghlu from Adiyaman, who, being Istanbul inhabitant, officially converted his religion, adopted the religion of his ancestors – Christianity, married an Armenian girl from Armenia and sent his son to an Armenian school.
We come across some more facts of the custom of internal marriages among cripto Armenians and the existence of possible network of knowing each other in the contemporary Turkish literature on the Armenian subject-matter. For example the documentary-fiction book of the Germany inhabited Turkish writer Kemal Yalcin “You rejoice my heart” the son of a Kyahta inhabited cripto Armenian, the Germany resident Hadji Ibrahim says: “We get married only with “our own people” (cripto Armenians). We don’t give our girls to strangers, and don’t marry the strangers ourselves, because in that way the stranger may learn the secret of “our people.”” And when their neighbor Kurd asked the hand of Haji Ibrahim’s sister, the father refused him; however, being afraid that she may be kidnapped the father married her off to one of “our people” - a bold, ugly, poor and orphan shepherd. In the very book of Kemal Yalcin a cripto Armenian Bakirjigil tells, that four of the sons of his grandpa were married to Armenians, and the 12-year old daughter was married off to a 30-year-old cripto Armenian, in that way, being supposedly saved.
This and many other examples have come to prove the assertion that while contracting marriages cripto Armenians not only don’t take into consideration age factor, class, social and other obstacles, but also consider them quite secondary.
It is not by chance that the custom of internal marriage among cripto Armenians also become the subject of interest of Turkish scientists. They study the matter having a lot of opportunities and facts at hand. Conducting detailed study of the apostate Armenians’ family tree they reveal facts which prove that very often, and of course not by chance, the marriages are contracted among the generations of cripto Armenians. We will cite a few examples of internal marriages of cripto Armenians which we have come across in Turkish sources.
- Cripto Armenian Chetin Bozkaya (born in 1923) converted his religion at the age of 67, adopted Christianity, he is married with an Armenian Shake Bozkaya. It is also presented their family tree, from where it is found out that their parents were of Armenian origin. Furthermore, their son, Gyula Alpad Bozkaya readopted Christianity in 1990, at the age of 29. It is interesting that Gyula Alpad Bozkaya marries Nargiz Arpad Bozkaya (born 1967), whose parents are also of Armenian origin. Nargiz Bozkaya also readopts Christianity in 1996.
- The parents of Ahmet Karakush were Armenians, his wife, Tigranuhi, and son – Perch, readopt Christianity according to court decision. In 1989 the daughter of Ahmet and Tigranuhi, Fatima, also converts her religion in 1989; however, their other four children remain Muslims. One of those Muslim children, Jemile, marries Atap Kabe, born 1959, whose perents were Armenians from Sasun –Sahak and Mariam. It is interesting that this couple registered their 13 children to be Christians.
- The parents of Fidan Demir, who adopted Christianity in 1966 and married a Christian Armenian in 1967, are also of Armenian origin. Furthermore, in the source are also mentioned the names of his father’s parents – Manuk and Mariam. In 1996 Fidan Demir changes her name to be called Seda, and registers her Children – Talin and Ara, as Christians. The Turkish sources mention that the sisters of Fidan Demir, Emine and Ayshen, adopted Christianity accordingly in 1962 and 1990.
- The son of a cripto Armenian, Davit Tashdemir, refused Islam to adopt Christianity in 1955. As the studies have revealed, Davit’s parents are Mustafa and Fadim, however, his Father’s parents were called Artin (Harutyun) and Srbuk, and Mother’s parents – Arakel and Mariam. Davit Tashdemir is married to a Christian Armenian Satenik Tashdemir, and the two of his brothers - to cripto Armenians Hayriey (parents’ names - Hovsep and Lusine) and Hatije (parents’ names – Kirakos and Anna). The third brother of Davit is married to an Armenian Christian Srbuk. Davit’s cousins readopted Christianity - Gulya Tashdemir - in 1992, at the age of 66, Sargis Tashdemir - in 1982, at the age of 48, Elmas Tashdemir - in 1977, at the age of 33. The other brothers and cousins of Davit Tashdemir remain registered as Muslims.
- Tunjeli (Dersim) village inhabitent, a cripto Armenian (giving herself out as Alevi) Aziz Chelq, born in 1944, changes his religion in 1972 adopting Christianity, and, at the sane time, changes his name into Sargis. Sargis Cheliq marries in 1949 to an Arabkir born Christian Armenian Byulbyul Yilinjioghlu. Both of their sons, 1972 born Sevan Cheliq and 1977 born Savash Cheliq, are Armenians.
- The ancestors of Yildiz Janika (born in 1938), the inhabitant of Adinlik village of Tunjeli and in his surrounding known as Alevi, were Armenians. On January 15, 2004 Yildiz readopted Christianity. His son Mahmud, who was born in 1962 in Istanbul, adopted Christianity in 1992. In 1980 the sister of Yildiz, Perihan, follows his example and changes her name into Piruz.
We also come across facts of internal marriages of cripto Armenians in Eastern Armenia. The specialist of the Armenian architecture history, Armen Karaperyan, says: “The Muslim Armenians of Eastern Armenia, if their consider themselves to be Armenians, always have problems with local Kurds, even to the extent of bloodshed: Kurds are offended that the Muslim Armenians don’t give their girls in marriage to them, but they themselves marry Kurdish girls.”
We have also heard about internal marriages from cripto Armenians we met in Eastern Armenia, however, it is very difficult to stick to this principles living among Kurds. In the places where the relations between Kurds and Armenians are tense, it is not always possible to avoid mixed marriages, but it is also noticeable that there is a tendency to take but not to give their girls.
It is not out of place to mention that an attempt is made to preserve the custom of internal marriages in Europe as well. For example the members of the well known Varto tribe continue internal marriages in spite of the fact that they live in Belgium, however if in the past they got married only with their tribe members, than now they marry Armenians in general.
In that way one may say that the tradition of internal marriages has come to prove about national self-consciousness of the Turkish cripto Armenians. At the same time it is an important and distinctive feature differencing cripto Armenians from the other groups of Islamized Armenians.
Another materials of author
- ABOUT THE EDUCATIONAL PROBLEMS OF TURKEY’S ARMENIANCY[12.07.2012]
- ON MANIFESTATIONS OF SELF-ORGANIZATION OF THE ARMENIANS IN TURKEY[29.05.2012]
- THE ISSUE OF THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE AND MODERN TENDENCIES OF TURKEY’S POLICY[14.05.2012]
- THE STUDY OF THE ISSUE OF ISLAMIZED ARMENIANS IN TURKEY: PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS[12.04.2012]
- THE ISSUE OF THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE IN THE TURKISH PARLIAMENT [08.12.2011]
- ON SOME TENDENCIES OF CONTEMPORARY TURKISH HISTORIOGRAPHY[17.11.2011]