Tamar is a woman’s name. And Aktamar means oh Tamar. Tamar was in love with this guy, and the girl’s father was against it. So the girl says… oh wait they live on Lake Van. It’s a big lake between Turkey and western Armenia. So he says he’s gonna elope with her. So he says “What I’m gonna do is I’m gonna have a candle lit up. And I’ll be waiting for you on the shore so pay attention to the candle.” So he jumps in the water and swims to shore… but it happens to be a windy day and the candle wears away. And the poor guy swims and swims and swims back and forth to relight the candle until he drowns. And as he’s drowning, he says “AKTAMAR, AKTAMAR, AKTAMAR” which means like “Oh Tamar” and now this island where the candle was supposed to be is called Aktamar Island.
- Where is Lake Van located exactly?
Lake Van is a big lake and it used to be an Armenian lake, but the Turks took it over and now it’s in Turkey.
- Was the lake lost to Turkey after the genocide?
It was taken before the genocide… it was under ottoman rule, and after the genocide, there was no part of it left in Armenia.
- Where did you first hear this story?
I don’t remember really, it’s a kind of Armenian folklore, and when someone loses his girlfriend basically the boys all cry out “Aktamar” basically saying, I tried very hard but I lost.
This reminds me of a variation of Romeo and Juliet. It’s a nice story about love however very sad how both of them end in tragedy. Also within the story of Midsummer Nights Dream, there’s another story that is very similar to this one.