His father, Aslan (1839–1898), was the village priest known by the name Ter-Tadevos. He was an offspring of an Armenian princely family of Tumanyan, branch of the famous royal house of Mamikonian that settled in Lori in 10th–11th centuries from their original feudal fief of Taron.
His mother, Sona (1842–1936), was an avid storyteller with a particular interest in fables. Young Tumanyan was the oldest of eight children; his siblings were Rostom (1871–1915), Osan (1874–1926), Iskuhi (1878–1943), Vahan (1881–1937), Astghik (1885–1953), Arshavir (1888–1921), Artashes (1892–1916).
From 1877–1879, Tumanyan attended the parochial school of Dsegh. From 1879–1883 he went to a school in Jalaloghly. Tumanyan moved to Tiflis in 1883, where he attended the Nersisyan School from 1883–1887. Tumanyan’s wrote his first poem at the age of 12, while studying in Jalaloghly school. He lived at the teacher’s house for a while and fell in love with the teacher’s daughter Vergine. Since 1893, Tumanyan worked for Aghbyur, Murtch, Hasker and Horizon periodicals and also was engaged in public activism