Armeno-Qypchaq language and Written Monuments

Dr. Alexander Garkavets, Almaty, Kazakhstan

The written monuments we present here were made with Armenian script in the Qypchaq language in Ukraine (Lvov, Kamenets-Podolsky, and others), Poland, Romania, Moldavia, Crimea and Turkey in 16-17 centuries. The settlers of 70 Armenian colonies called themselves Armenians, but they did not know the Armenian language, and had been speaking, praying and writing mainly in Qypchaq with Armenian script.

The mixed character of their culture is explained by the fact that many Armenians, being compelled to leave Armenia, lived together with Qypchaqs in Crimea and Bessarabia for a long time. They subsequently moved to Ukraine, and there they adopted the Qypchaq language. Also, even back in Armenia they communicated with Qypchaqs very closely. Historians note the facts, when some Qypchaqs have adopted the Armeno-Gregorian Christianity. Under the epigraphic data, explored by Gh. Alishan, R. Acharyan, and E. Khurshudyan, the contemporary Armenian village Arich (Harich) in Artik region of Shirak oblast previously carried the name Qypchag, and in 12-14 centuries in this village there was a monastery, which name was Khpchakhawank (Ghpchakhawank - from arm. Khpchakh/Ghpchakh "Qypchaq" + wank "monastery, cloister").

The largest Armenian colonies were in Lvov (not less than 60 families) and Kamenets-Podolsky (near 300 families). Armenian church parishes could be found in Kyiv, Lutsk, Volodymyr, as well as in cities Suchava and Siret (Romania). People of these colonies belonged to the Armeno-Gregorian Church. Since 1363 there was an Armenian bishop's chair in Lvov, and in Kamenets-Podolsky the Saint Nikol Church was built in 1383. The building of the church was financed by an Armenian merchant with the Qypchaq last name Sinan Khutlubey. The stone building of Saint Nikol Church that still exists was built in 1577.

On April 26/ May 6, 1627, the Lvov Armenians signed the agreement with bishop Nikol Torossovich, in which they recognized him as their own hierarch and proclaimed the union with the Roman-Catholic Church. The Kamenets-Podolsky Armenians accepted the union later - here the service according to the Catholic rite was held for the first time on October 1, 1666 in the Saint Nikol Church.

The Lvov and Kamenets colonies were self-governed on the base of numerous privileges, gotten from Lithuanian dukes and Polish kings since 1344. In 1519 king Sigizmund I affirmed by edict for Armenians their own "Code of Law", made in the 12-13th centuries by Mekhitar Gosh. In 1528 this "Code of Law" was translated into Qypchaq. In Kamenets the Armenians possessed one third of the city, where they built the town hall, market, churches, shops, shelter for the poor people, bathhouse, etc. Kamenets Armenians rented water-mills, villages, farmsteads, apiaries, custom-houses, had specialized handicraft corporations, self-controlled civil and spiritual organs, public associations in the manner of brotherhoods, including a brotherhood for young people, their own schools, etc.

Armenian merchants provided independence of Armenian colonies in the first place. For example, on September 30 / October 10, 1616 in the list of the Kamenets Armenians who have paid the customs duty for importing and exporting the goods, there were 43 people. Some onetime deliveries of the goods by separate merchants from Turkey reached 12-15 thousand thalers. In 1685 in Lvov 10 out of 14 rich shops and 13 out of 17 poor shops belonged to the Armenians.

The Armenian colonies have left a great written heritage. 112 written monuments in Armeno-Qypchaq from 1521-1669 have survived to our day, amounting to about 25-30 thousand pages. The written heritage in other languages (Armenian, Latin, Polish, Ukrainian, etc. ) covers the 1519-1786 period.

The Armeno-Qypchaq written monuments are kept in Kyiv (28 judicial books and a "Philosophical Stone Secrets", composition of Andrey Torossovich), Lvov (1 dictionary and 26 separate documents), Yerevan (9 manuscripts of the church and philological contents), St. -Petersburg (a dictionary, a hagiography book and a Psalter), Vienna (3 dictionaries and 13 manuscripts of legal, official and Christian contents - code of law, official books, Psalters, prayer books and breviaries, 3 sermon books of Anton Vartabed), Venice (10 manuscripts - Psalters, prayer books and breviaries, code of law, official books, a chronicle), Krakow, Warsaw and Wroclaw (11 manuscripts, including a Psalter, a prayer book, a calendar with an Easter calendar, a code of law from 1528-1604), Paris (4 manuscripts - Psalter, calendar, code of law and a codex, including a chronicle and a history of sage Hikar), Gerla (Romania - Psalter) and Leiden (a printed prayer book). The Leiden prayer book printed in Qypchaq in 1618 is, most likely, the first Turkic book printed in the world.

The written monuments being kept in Ukraine, Armenia and Russia (67 items), are described in my Catalogue, published in Kyiv in 1993 in Ukrainian. Some of them are published and supplied by translations and scientific commentaries. The rest are not systematized. The Christian monuments in Armeno-Qypchaq, named below, are interesting in mutiple aspects.



1. Krakow, Chartorysky Museum, 3546/III
2. Vienna, National Library, Cod. Arm. 13
3. Venice, Mekh. Library, 11
4. Venice, Mekh. Library, 81
5. Venice, Mekh. Library, 359
6. Venice, Mekh. Library, 1817
7. Paris, National Library, Arm. 5
8. Gerla, Romania, Regional Museum, ms. 6
9. Yerevan, Matenadaran, 2267, a part


Prayer books

1. Krakow, Chartorysky Museum, 2412
2. Vienna, Mekh. Library, 143
3. Vienna, Mekh. Library, 525
4. Leiden, University Library, print
5. Yerevan, Matenadaran, 2267
6. Yerevan, Matenadaran, 2403



1. Vienna, Mekh. Library, 536
2. Vienna, Mekh. Library, 468, a part
3. Paris, National Library, Arm. 194, a part



1. Warsaw, In-t of Oriental Studies, # 6
2. Vienna, Mekh. Library, 479
3. Vienna, Mekh. Library, 480
4. Vienna, Mekh. Library, 481


Letters of Saint Paul

1. Venice, Mekh. Library, 446


Code of Law

1. Paris, National Library, Arm. 176
2. Vienna, Mekh. Library, 468, a part
3. Wroclaw, Ossolineum Library, 1916



1. Paris, National Library, Arm. 194, a part
2. Venice, Mekh. Library, 1700

The Leiden prayer book is probably the best version of the Armenian prayer books in Qypchaq.

The Qypchaq language in its origin and structure is close to some Turkic languages such as Crimean-Tatar, Urum, Karaimish, Crimchakish, Karachay-Balkar, Kumyk, Tatar, Kazakh, Noghay, Kyrghyz, Uzbek and others. Practically it is the same as the language of the South-East Europe and Hungary Cumans in the 11-14th centuries. It is also near to the Qypchaq language of the monuments, written in Mameluke Egypt and in the territories of the Golden Horde in the 14-17th centuries.

Main scientific books of Dr. Alexander Garkavets on this matter:

Convergence of Armeno-Qypchaq language to Slavonic in 16-17 centuries. Kyiv: Naukova Dumka, 1979. -100 pp. (in Russian).

Kamenets Chronicle. Translation from Armeno-Qypchaq to Russian, commentaries. (In: The Otoman empire in the first quarter of the 17th century. ) Moscow: Nauka,1984. - 52 pp. (in Russian).

The Development of the verb in Turkic languages in Ukraine. - Moscow: INION,1986. - 192 pp. (in Ukrainian).

Qypchaq languages: Comanian and Armeno-Qypchaq. Alma-Ata: Science, 1987. - 223 pp. (in Russian).

Turkic languages in Ukraine. Kyiv: Naukova Dumka, 1988. - 176 pp. (in Russian).

Armeno-Qypchaq manuscripts in Ukraine, Armenia, Russia: Catalogue. Kyiv: Ukrainoznavstvo, 1993. - 328 pp. (in Ukrainian).

Azovian Urums: History, language, fairy-tales, songs, riddles, proverbs, written monuments. Alma-Ata: Ukrainian Culture Centre, 1999. - 624 pp. (The scientific article in Ukrainian, the texts in Urum).

Urum dictionary. Alma-Ata: Baur, 2000. - 632 pp. (Urum-Ukrainian).

Armenian-Qypchaq Psalter written by deacon Lussig from Lviv / Ed. by A. Garkavets, E. Khurshudian. Almaty: Desht-i Qypchaq, 2001. 656 pp.

Qypchaq Written Heritage. Vol. 1-3. Almaty, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2011 (a reprint). - 1084, 912, 1802 pp. etc.

Tore Bitigi: An Qypchaq-Polish version of the Armenian Code of law and Armenian-Qypchaq Code of practice, written in Lvov 1519-1594. Almaty: Desht-i Qypchaq; Baur, 2003. 792 pp.