• Written by:

Yousif Shameka (Shabilla )
Toronto, Canada.
This article deals with the Etymology of the word Gurdu and its other forms such as Qurdu ?????, Kurdu, and the various derivatives of Gur such as Khur, ?ur, Hur and Ghur.
The logic followed in this article is the same as that followed in my books (From Gilgamesh To Christopher), and (Gal Du), which constructs the theme using few Sumerian building blocks or root words; in this case, Gur meaning mountain, rock, boulder or stone; and Dumu or Du meaning son, offspring, people, followers, inhabitants, subjects or their equivalents; somethong like the English suffix /ish/ as in British and the Syriac suffix /aya/, /naya/ as in Muslaya (Muselite) and Baghdadnaya (Baghdadi) . This new approach has been facilitated by utilizing Syriac and Soor^th 1, the vernacular Syriac spoken in many cities and villages in the plane of Nineveh and Kurdistan.


Kurdistan is a flourishing terretory , North of Iraq enjoying autonomous rule; it comprises three governorates: Duhok, Arbil, and Sulaimaniya. It is now a safe haven for Christians fleeing oppression of Radical Islamists, such as ISIS, in the other regions of Iraq.
Although Kurds are an Indo-European race, the name Kurd itself does not belong to any family of Indo-European languages. It is, in my opinion, of Sumerian descent.
A question arises as why should an Indo-European race has its name in Sumerian?
The answer is that these regions were populated dominantly by Sumerians before the arrival of Semitic and later Indo-German races into south and north of Mesopotamia respectively.
The Sumerians Stamped their influence in the region in various forms and left enduring prints in the area including a bulk of linguistic, literary and mythical jargon and recorded many firsts in various walks of civilization most important of them being writing.
That Kurdu is of Sumerian coining will become evident from the following analysis.
We break down the word Qurdu or Gurdu into its two salient syllables or sign symbols as they are and without approximation:

1- Gur
The word ‘Gur’ in Sumerian means, among other things, mountain, stone rock and the like.

2- Du
Du, contracted form of Dumu, means, in Sumerian, child, offspring, or belonging to a race, nation, religion, cult, clan, leader etc… such as Ankidu, son of Anki; Galdu , sons of Sky dweller or God so Gurdu means the children of the mountain, or the mountainous people (TURAYE in Soor^th). But Gurdu, as time passed, came to mean the people speaking Kurdish whether living in the mountains or in the plains. To refer to the mountain ranges of North and NE Iraq one needs to add the word ‘mountains’ again e.g. the mountains of Kurdistan2 which means the mountains of the people of the mountains!!
The syllable Gur has endured in the languages spoken in Iraq and the region for millennia; but has undergone some erosions.
In Accadian the Sumerian sound /g/ frequently changes to sound /k/ and so Gur is rendered /Kur/, Engi fecomes Enki and so on.
In Aramaic and Syriac gur is part of many words, relating to mountain or stone; some examples follow:
Gurna, in Soor^th is a stone trough, in Arabic ??? .
Qorbana, in Aramaic, is a stone platform for sacrifices and later was extended to sacrifices themselves.
Qarada in Soor^th means stiff (as a stone).
Gora in Aramaic is a stone and later porcelain pot for fetching water (jarra in Arabic).
Qurina in Soor^th is a pot of about 2L capacity.
Niqqura in Soor^th is a small trough indented in rock.
EGur in Aramaic is a heap of stones. Egur Sahdootha, in Aramaic, means heap of stones made as a witness on a deed, as in Genesis 31:45-49

“So Jacob took a stone, and set it up there as a monument; he said, too, to his kinsmen. Bring stones here…”

And to further enhance the point here are some place names, associated with stones or mountains, in Iraq, containing the syllable GUR or its derivatives:
Qurzi is the name of the first mountain summit or peak to the North of Alqush , It seems to be a variation or corrupt form of the Sumerian Qur Zak or Zaq Qur i.e. Mountain Head or pinnacle or Ziqurat.
Ras Al GUR is also called Bash Tapia, it is highland or mound in Mosul , with Zak arabized to Ras meaning Head; The Turks translated Zak to Bashi which means, in their tongue, Head. In Kurdish tsava is head and so the name of the village Karsava simply means mountain peak.

Khorazai a village inhabited by Dasenites (Izidis) and means pinnacle or mountain peak.
Khormal , Gurmava , Tuz Khur Mato are villages in the mountain ranges of Kurdistan.
Curzin {moon mountain} in Palestine
Ba Garmi (near Daquq, off Kirkuk).
Karmal mountain in Palestine.
Shin Gur (Shingar), Mount Sinjar, an Izidi stronghold in Nineveh , Iraq.

(Ziqqurat)3 , (Zak = Peak or head, Qur = mountain). An example of which is ‘Agurguf Ziqqurah near Baghdad.
Gurwana is a potable water project which the Assyrian super king Sennacherib built to supply Nineveh with fresh water from Bamian 50 km to the North of Nineveh, in Shaikhan Shire at the foot of the white mountain; he built the stream using huge cubes of stone.
In Sumerian mythology Nin Khur Zak (lady, mountain, peak) is the goddess of the mountain peak. But in south of Iraq, where there are no mountains, this would, probably, refer to the top room of Ziqqurat, where consecrated women lived and meditated.
Now why should a Na-negation race (Indo – German people) have their name in Sumerian? (Semitic languages use La for negation).
It is now known that this area was populated by peoples speaking Sumerian. The Sumerians presence was the most salient in the region. They have stamped their idioms in the form of village names, city names, king names diety names and a bulk of loan words which have precipated in local languages of Iraq and the region.

Their influence in ethics, myths and literature was profound. This is exemplified by the Epic of Gilgamesh which shares many of its themes in the book of Genesis, they are called parallels. They are, also, credited with the invention of writing in sign form which came to be called cuneiform writing and a multitude of firsts as mentioned before.
Is there a name for Kurdish language in Kurdish? Yes, there are at least two words; one is Kurmanji which is the Kurdish dialect spoken in Bahdinan (Duhuk governorate) the second is Surani and is spoken in Arbil and Slemani governorates. Kurmanji and Surani are two almost unintelligible dialects. In Kurmanji we can see the root /Gur/ still present, the same root seems to be present in Garman and Karmanshah, in Iran; no such root is evident in Surani which seems to have a trace of Assur; but not for sure some say it means red.

Mounts with syllable Gur or its derivatives
Sinjar. (Sain Gur, mount of moon (god)), Iraq.
Ras Al ShuGur, Syria .
Qarpakh, Armenia.
ZaKGurus, Zagarus (the /us/ is a Greek suffix). Mountain range between Iraq and Iran.
PotGurny, under the mountain, Russian surname.
Gurduvan mount, Sudan,N.
AnGura Ankara, Turkey.
MediGurie (a Catholic pilgrimage place in Chekia)
?ur, mount Hur ib, Hurrb has its translation with it i.e. mount of God , mount of Rab , mount of Lord.
Huras mount, Algiers.

So one series of development or adaptations of the word Gur would be:
Qur > Gur > Ghur > Kur > Khur > ?ur > pHer, Hur…(Har and ar in Hebrew)
It is to be noted that the letter r does not change; it is the Q or G sound that has undergone so many changes
Some of these variations are manifested in the following mountain names:
Qur as in Qurdu ?????
Gur As in Zagarus (Zaag gur, mountain peak)
Kur as in Kurdistan
Khur as in Khorazay (khur zag)
Hur as in mount Hureb (Hur rab, mountain of the Lord), and Huras in Algers.
In Phertho ?????? we can see traces of Gordu but not Gordu explicit. PHerthites seems to mean mountainous people taking the /p/ to be an alerting sign for the following fricative not accomodated for in Greek alpha – bet. Bishop Jacob of Suruge says this about Urva, Orhai, “Orhai daughter of PHerthites, who excel in cavalry and bow shooting”, a phrase which suggests that Horrites and PHerthites are the same one nation. (p 315 Al Muruge Al Nuzhiyya….)

HORITES a horse taming nation
GURDIUS king of Phrigia or Mushki, Mushkian (Phrygians) are followers of Gurdi “ with the /p/ serving as an alerting symbol.
Summing up we repeat that Kurdu means mountainous people.

End Notes

1. Author’s mother tongue, Syriac of Alqush, and other Assyrian villages in the planes of Nineveh (prior to July2014), Kurdistan mountains and some villages in Syria, Turky (prior to 1915) and Persia, is called Soor^th short for AaSuria _ith, Adverb i.e. in Assur (tongue).

2 Cf. Olympus Peaks in Greek mythology.
3 Ziggurat is a 7-storey temple, with a room at the top, used for worship , meditation and concecration by Sumerians.

o The Holy Bible, Roland Knox, Burns and Oates, London, 1959.
o The Epic of Gilgamesh, Stephen Langdon, The University of Pennsylvania Museum.
o The Sumerian Wonder, Badini and others, El Salvador University,1974.
o The Epic of Gilgamesh, Taha Baqir, Baghdad, 1984.

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