The Gypsies

Gypsy History

 

Gypsies have long been among the most mysterious, exotic peoples on earth.  They have been described as a race of nomads, who have no real home.  Gypsies do have their own language, Romani, and they identify themselves as Romani people.  Gypsies came to Europe long ago from India.

Gypsy history remained unknown for centuries, largely because they had no written language, and strangely enough, they had forgotten where they came from. Gypsies generally claimed to be Egyptians—hence the name "Gypsy."  Europeans eventually discovered that the Romani language is related to certain dialects of India, and from there Gypsy history was gradually put together.

GYPSY GIRL
GYPSY GIRL

GYPSIES

 

Gypsies were a low caste people in India who made their living as wandering musicians and singers.  In the year 430, Gypsy musicians, (12,000 of them) from the tribe of India known as Jat (called Zott by Persians) were given as a gift to the Persian King Bahram V.   Large numbers of them were captured by the Byzantines in Syria, where they were lauded as great acrobats and jugglers, about 855. 

Gypsies are noted in the twelfth century history of Constantinople as bear keepers, snake charmers, fortune tellers, and sellers of magic amulets to ward off the evil eye.  Balsamon warned the Greeks to avoid these "ventriloquists and wizards" that he said were in league with the Devil. 

ROUTES BY WHICH THE GYPSIES SPREAD
ROUTES BY WHICH THE GYPSIES SPREAD

Roma Gypsies

 

Symon Simeonis describes Gypsies in Crete (1323) as "asserting themselves to be of the family of Ham. They rarely or never stop in one place beyond thirty days, but always wandering and fugitive, as though accursed by God . . . from field to field with their oblong tents, back and low." 

Gypsies living in Modon are described in 1497 by Arnold von Harff as "many poor black naked people . . . called Gypsies . . . follow all kinds of trade, such as shoemaking and cobbling and also smithery." 

Gypsies are reported in Serbia in 1348; Croatia in 1362 (as goldsmiths); and Romania in 1378—as slaves put to work as barbers, tailors, bakers, masons, and household servants.

GYPSIES ON THE MOVE (ENGRAVING BY JACQUES CALLOT, 1622)
GYPSIES ON THE MOVE (ENGRAVING BY JACQUES CALLOT, 1622)

Gypsy Life

 

Gypsies first surface in Switzerland, Hungary, Germany, and Spain in 1414-1417.  During this time they traveled about with a Safe-Conduct (similar to a Passport) from Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund.  After Sigismund died, Gypsies traveled around Europe with safe-conduct letters from the Pope.  Those from Sigismund were legitimate, but the supposed papal letters were forgeries. 

Hermann Conerus wrote this about Gypsies: "They travelled in bands and camped at night in the fields outside the towns . . . They were great thieves, especially their women, and several of them in various places were seized and put to death." 

In Switzerland it was noted that Gypsies wore rags that resembled blankets, but were bedecked in gold and silver jewelry.  The Gypsy women became known as palm readers and petty thieves, suspected of sorcery.  Many towns in Europe began to pay Gypsies to go away as soon as they appeared. 

BOSNIAN GYPSIES
BOSNIAN GYPSIES

Gypsy History

 

A Bologna chronicle from 1422 gave this account of a visit from a Gypsy group: "Amongst those who wished to have their fortunes told, few went to consult without having their purse stolen . . . The women of the band wandered about the town, six or eight together; they entered the houses of the citizens and told idle tales, during which some of them laid hold of whatever could be taken.  In the same way they visited the shops under the pretext of buying something, but one of them would steal."

In the fifteenth century, the Gypsies spread many myths about themselves around the Europe.  The greatest of these myths was outlined in the forged papal letter.  The letter stated that the Gypsies had been sentenced by the Pope for their collective sins to live as nomads, never to sleep in a bed. Along with that sad tale, the letter instructed the people reading it to give the Gypsies food, money, and beer, and exempt them from any tolls and taxes.   

Even though the majority of Gypsy people left the Ottoman Empire and moved on to Europe, some remained.  Suleiman the Magnificent issued a decree to regulate Gypsy prostitution in 1530.  It is known that Gypsy men played a significant role as miners in the Ottoman Empire of the sixteenth century.  Others were watchmen, iron workers, and charcoal-burners. 

In 1696, Sultan Mustafa II issued orders for Gypsies to be disciplined for their immoral and disorderly lifestyles.  They were described as "pimps and prostitutes."  But we also find that Gypsy people worked in the Ottoman Empire as broom-makers, chimney-sweeps, musicians, weapon-repairers, and in the manufacture of weapons and ammunition. 

HUNGARIAN GYPSY BAND
HUNGARIAN GYPSY BAND
THE GYPSY BRIGAND HANNIKEL IN 1787
THE GYPSY BRIGAND HANNIKEL IN 1787

Roma Gypsies

 

Gypsies are first noted as musicians in European history in 1469 (Italy).  In 1493, they were banned from Milan because they were beggars and thieves who disturbed the peace.  While a turban wearing Gypsy woman told your fortune, her children would pick your pockets.  It was said that the Gypsy women cast spells and practiced witchcraft; the Gypsy men were experts at picking locks and pilfering horses.

Settled people are usually suspicious of rootless, masterless wanderers with no fixed address.  The Gypsies traveled about Europe as did no other people, so they knew more than most about what was happening in various countries, and the activities of their inhabitants.  This led to rumors that Gypsies were being used as spies.  

In 1497, the Diet (legislature) of the Holy Roman Empire issued a decree that expelled all Gypsies from Germany for espionage.  In 1510, Switzerland followed suit, and added the death penalty.  A Swiss chronicler denounced Gypsies as "useless rascals who wander about in our day, and of whom the most worthy is a thief, for they live solely for stealing."  

133 laws against Gypsies were passed in the Holy Roman Empire between 1551 and 1774.  One of those, passed in 1710, made it a crime to be a Gypsy woman or an old Gypsy man in Germany.  They were widely viewed as a godless and wicked people.  Violators were to be flogged, branded, and deported.  To be a Gypsy man in Germany was to be given a life sentence of prison at hard labor. Children of Gypsy people were taken away from them and put into good Christian homes.

In the face of this persecution, we find Gypsy men in Germany forming gangs and turning violent in the eighteenth century.   A huge crowd gathered at Giessen, Hesse, to watch the executions of 26 Gypsies in 1726.  They were a gang led by the notorious Hemperla (Johannes la Fortun).  Some were hung; some were beheaded. 

The most famous of the German Gypsy brigands was Hannikel (Jakob Reinhard).  He was hanged in 1783, along with three of his henchmen, for murder.  Hannikel had himself a little army, which included women and children.  His father was a platoon drummer. 

In view of this violence, the King of Prussia decided in 1790 that Gypsy men should all be drafted into the military.  Other European countries followed suit, and Gypsy men have since served as soldiers for every country in Europe. 

SIGN WARNING GYPSIES THEY WILL BE FLOGGED AND BRANDED IF THEY ENTER THE NETHERLANDS (1710)
SIGN WARNING GYPSIES THEY WILL BE FLOGGED AND BRANDED IF THEY ENTER THE NETHERLANDS (1710)

Gypsy Life

We first find Gypsies in Scotland in 1505 as tinkers, peddlers, dancers, raconteurs, guisers, and mountebanks. In 1609, the Vagabonds Act was aimed at Gypsies, and four male members of the Faw family were hung in 1611 for not maintaining a permanent address. Eight more men, six of them with the last name of Faa, were hanged in 1624 for being "Egyptians." The Scottish Gypsy surnames Faa and Baille go back perhaps 500 years. A new decree was issued in 1624 that traveling Gypsy men be arrested and hanged, Gypsy women without children be drowned, and gypsy women with children to be whipped and branded on the cheek.

Billy Marshall was a famous Gypsy King in Scotland. He died in 1792 after living 120 years. Billy Marshall fathered over 100 children, some by his 17 wives, and some by other gals.

In England, the Egyptian Act of 1530 was passed to expel Gypsies from the realm, for being lewd vagabonds, conning the good citizens out of their money, and committing a rash of felony robberies. In 1562, Queen Elizabeth signed an order designed to force Gypsies to settle into permanent dwellings, or face death. Several were hanged in 1577, nine more in 1596, and 13 in the 1650s.

Under King James I, England began to deport Gypsy people to the American colonies, as well as Jamaica and Barbados. Dumping undesirables into the colonies became a widespread practice, not only Gypsies, but also "thieves, beggars, and whores."

Abram Wood and his family were the first Gypsies to settle in Wales, circa 1730. Abram was a great fiddler and storyteller. He became known as the King of the Welsh Gypsies. The sons and grandsons of Abram Wood mastered the national instrument of Wales: the harp.

 

GYPSY MULE CLIPPERS IN SPAIN (LITHOGRAPH BY VILLAIN)
GYPSY MULE CLIPPERS IN SPAIN (LITHOGRAPH BY VILLAIN)

GYPSIES

 

In Provence it seems the Gypsies were welcomed.  It is there that they first began to be called Bohemians.  People flocked to them to have their fortunes told.  The Gypsies claimed to have dukes and counts among them, and later added captains and kings. 

The Spanish nobility protected the Gypsies at first.  Gypsy women were adored for their beauty and seductive charms; Gypsy men were admired as excellent judges of the quality of horses, and hired by nobles to procure them for their stables.   But in 1499 King Charles expelled all Gypsies from Spain, under penalty of enslavement. 

King Philip III again ordered all Gypsies (who were called Gitanos) out of Spain in 1619, this time under penalty of death. An exception was granted for those who would settle down in one place, dress as Spaniards, and stop speaking their ancient language.  Philip IV lowered the penalties to six years on the galleys for men and a good flogging for women, in 1633. 

The city with the most Gypsies was, at the time, Seville.  Many Gypsies were publicly flogged there for deceiving the populace by claiming to reveal secrets by divination, heal the sick by magic, cast spells, and for selling maps to buried treasure. 

A new plan was hatched and executed in 1749, by which all Gypsies in Spain (est. 12,000) would be rounded up in a single night, their possessions confiscated, and forced into slavery.  Gypsy women were sent to work as spinners, boys in factories, men in mines and shipyards.  Fourteen years later, they were freed by King Charles III. 

In 1783, legislation was enacted whereby all Gypsy people were required to maintain a permanent address (but not in Madrid).  However, this bill banned them from working in many of their popular livelihoods, such as shearing, trading in markets or fairs, and inn keeping.  Those who continued to live as nomads were to have their children taken from them and placed in orphanages; a second offense would result in execution. 

Portugal banned Gypsies in 1526, and any of them born there were deported to the Portuguese African colonies.  The first record of Gypsy people being deported to Brazil appears in 1574.  Whole groups of them were sent to Brazil in 1686.  There were also times in the seventeenth century when the policy was only to send Gypsy women to the colonies, while the men were enslaved on galleys. 

ROMANIAN GYPSY WOMEN
ROMANIAN GYPSY WOMEN

Gypsy History

 

The King of France, Charles IX, banned Gypsies in 1561.  He ordered that any Gypsy man caught in France be sentenced to three years on the galleys, in spite of the fact that they were pronounced a non-violent people.  In 1607, Henry IV enjoyed Gypsy dancers at court.  By 1666, Gypsy men were again condemned to galleys—this time for life—and Gypsy women caught in France had their heads shaved. 

The Gypsies were declared royal servants in Hungary, and valued as smiths and makers of fine weaponry.  They were called "Pharaoh's people" on official Hungarian documents.  In a letter from the queen's court in Vienna (1543) it says "here the most excellent Egyptian musicians play."  Gypsies also served as messengers and executioners. 

Gypsies were expelled from Denmark in 1536 and Sweden in 1560. All these problems with the authorities of European countries had the result that a large number of Gypsy encampments were set up in remote areas on borders, since police had no authority beyond their province. More and more Gypsy men and women were being flogged and branded. 

HUNGARIAN GYPSIES AT CARPENTRAS IN 1868 (PAINTING BY DENIS BONNET)
HUNGARIAN GYPSIES AT CARPENTRAS IN 1868 (PAINTING BY DENIS BONNET)

Roma Gypsies

 

A census was conducted in Hungary (1783) that counted over 50,000 Gypsies.  They are described as wanderers who lived in tents except in winter, when they retreated into cave dwellings.  Gypsies had no chairs or beds, did not use kitchen utensils, ate mostly meat and noodles, loved tobacco and alcohol. They were disdained for eating carrion. 

Gypsy people had only one set of clothes, but lots of jewelry.  They were known to be peddlers, beggars, and thieves.  Gypsy men were renowned as excellent horsemen, and horse traders.  Some worked as skinners, as makers of sieves or wooden implements, as gold-sifters or gold-washers, even as tavern keepers. 

Gypsies were known as an exceptionally proud people, but with little shame or honor.  Parents loved their children very much, but did not educate them.  The Gypsy way of life was contrary to the rules of every organized society.  And those who did settle down were disdained by those who continued as nomads. 

FERENC BUNKO'S BAND 1854 (DRAWING BY VARSANYI)
FERENC BUNKO'S BAND 1854 (DRAWING BY VARSANYI)

GYPSIES

It is estimated that 800,000 Gypsies lived in Europe by the year 1800. They were most numerous in the Balkans, and had a substantial presence in Spain and Italy. About this time a German scholar, Heinrich Gellmann, proved that the Romani language was linked to some languages of India. Although these people would no longer be considered Egyptians, the name Gypsy stuck (as well as the word "gyp").

During the nineteenth century, Gypsies became prominent as musicians, chiefly in Hungary, Spain, and Russia. Hungarian nobility developed a tradition of having a Gypsy minstrel next to the host of a banquet to play for his guests. Before long Gypsy bands proliferated, always including a virtuoso violinist.

The first famous Gypsy violinist was Janos Bihari, from Bratislava, who performed at the Congress of Vienna in 1814. By 1850, Gypsy music was popular all over Europe. Gypsy groups went on the road to perform, some as far as America. In 1865, Ferenc Bunko played for the King of Prussia. Imitators of the famous Gypsy bands were soon ubiquitous in Europe, playing in taverns, markets, fairs, festivals, and weddings.

In Russia, Gypsies were beloved more for their singing talents. Most every noble family employed a Gypsy chorus, with Gypsy women (who were also dancers) in the main roles, accompanied by a seven string Russian guitar. The first recorded singer of flamenco music in Spain is a Gypsy man, Tio Luis el de la Juliana.

 

AN EARLY READING WAGGON IN NOTTING DALE, LONDON, 1879
AN EARLY READING WAGGON IN NOTTING DALE, LONDON, 1879
TYPES OF ENGLISH GYPSY VANS
TYPES OF ENGLISH GYPSY VANS

Gypsy Life

 

The Census of Hungary in 1893 identified 275,000 Gypsies, with the vast majority of them by now sedentary, gathered in their own enclaves.   90 percent of the Gypsy people were illiterate; 70 percent of Gypsy children did not attend school.  Besides musicians and horse traders, the Gypsy men were primarily engaged as smiths, brick makers, and construction workers.  Women were mostly hawkers.  The largest concentration of them was in Transylvania. 

In Victorian England, we see the emergence of Gypsy caravans with horse-drawn wagons (vardos), and donkeys or mules in train.  Nomadic Gypsies still lived in tents—even in winter.  The Gypsy folk are noted at this time as tinkers, potters, basket makers, brush makers, and cheapjacks.  It is also in the nineteenth century that they become known as Travelers.   

It appears that the Gypsy population in Britain was about 13,000 by 1900.  The Gypsies served a useful function by distributing goods to remote towns and villages, not yet served by trains.  They enlivened village festivals with their musicianship, singing, and dancing.  They gained a good reputation as people who could repair most anything.  Townsfolk would await the arrival of the Travelers to hear the latest news and gossip from other parts of the realm. 

Gypsies were also quite involved in the harvesting of hops in England and Ireland, while their womenfolk worked carnivals and fairs telling fortunes.  One writer invited tourists to come and see the Gypsies, but advised them to come in the morning, as at night the Gypsies are inebriated.  The coming of mechanized harvesting machines, as well as cheap machine-manufactured goods, lessened the demand for work common to Gypsy travelers.  

POSTER ADVERTISING A SLAVE AUCTION IN WALLACHIA, 1852
POSTER ADVERTISING A SLAVE AUCTION IN WALLACHIA, 1852

Roma Gypsies

 

In Romania, 200,000 Gypsy persons were still enslaved in the first half of the nineteenth century.  They worked as grooms, coachmen, cooks, barbers, tailors, farriers, comb makers, and domestic servants.  Their masters could kill them with impunity. 

One reformer described the treatment of these slaves in Iasi:  "human beings wearing chains on their arms and legs, others with iron clamps round their foreheads . . . Cruel floggings and other punishments, such as starvation, being hung over smoking fires, being thrown naked into a frozen river . . . children torn from the breasts of those who brought them into the world, and sold . . . like cattle." 

Before World War One, Gypsies drew huge crowds in England and France when they would wander into a town.  People longed to see Gypsy women in person, with gold coins around their necks and bosoms, as well as in their hair-plaits.  Gypsy men would call on factories, breweries, hotels, and restaurants in search of work repairing copper vessels and the like. 

The United States welcomed a large number of Ludar, or "Romanian Gypsies" (actually most were from Bosnia) from 1880 to 1914.  These people joined circuses as animal trainers and performers.  Passenger manifests show that they brought bears and monkeys with them across the Atlantic. 

GYPSY WOMEN
GYPSY WOMEN

Gypsy Life

 

In traditional Gypsy culture, the father arranges the marriage of his son with the father of a prospective bride.    The young people generally have the right of refusal.  The father of the groom pays a bride-price, which varies according to the status of the two fathers and the two families, as well as the girl's potential as an earner and "history."  The new couple then resides with the parents of the groom.  The new bride must perform household duties for her in-laws.  Sometimes families exchange daughters as brides for their respective sons. 

A great fear of Gypsy people through the ages has been of the mullo (a ghost or vampire).  In some tribes of Gypsies, it is customary to destroy all property belonging to a dead person to prevent them from haunting the living.  In England this would include the person's living-wagon (van). 

The Gypsies also dread being declared "polluted" by their clan, which is social death.  One can become polluted (defiled) by contact with an unclean female, whose lower parts are considered marime.  This term is complicated but we can safely say it has much to do with genitalia, bodily functions, puberty, menstruation, sex, pregnancy, and childbirth. 

FRENCH GYPSIES
FRENCH GYPSIES

GYPSIES

 

Gypsies were never well received in Germany. Near the close of nineteenth century, things got worse as Germans subscribed to the theories of Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso.  One of his ideas was that criminality is inherited.  As one proof of this, Lombroso pointed to the Gypsies, whom he described as generation after generation of people who are vain, shameless, shiftless, noisy, licentious, and violent.  Not to mention puppeteers and accordion players.

In 1886, Bismarck noted "complaints about the mischief caused by bands of Gypsies traveling about in the Reich and their increasing molestation of the population."  In 1899, a clearing house was set up in Munich to collate reports of the movements of Gypsies.  The general German opinion was that the nomadic Gypsies used the cover of being entertainers and perfume dealers, but actually focused on begging and stealing. 

In 1905, Alfred Dillmann distributed his Gypsy Book to police around Europe.  The book profiled 3,500 Gypsies.  Dillmann hoped it would help eradicate the "Gypsy Plague."  By 1926, laws were passed that made it compulsory for Gypsies in Germany to have a permanent address and maintain regular employment.  Violators were sentenced to two years in a workhouse.  The reason for this penalty was: "These people are by nature opposed to all work and find it especially difficult to tolerate any restriction of their nomadic life; nothing, therefore, hits them harder than loss of liberty, coupled with forced labor." 

In Switzerland, after 1926, Gypsy children were taken from their parents; their names were changed, and placed in foster homes.  This policy ended in 1973. 

GYPSY WOMAN
GYPSY WOMAN

Gypsy History

Nazi spokesman Georg Nawrocki had this to say in 1937: "It was in keeping with the inner weakness and mendacity of the Weimar Republic that it showed no instinct for tackling the Gypsy question. . . . We, on the other hand, see the Gypsy question as above all a racial problem, which must be solved and which is being solved." The National Socialists designated Gypsies, along with Jews, for annihilation.

Dr. Robert Ritter, a Nazi scientist, wrote in 1940: "Gypsies [are] a people of entirely primitive ethnological origins, whose mental backwardness makes them incapable of real social adaptation . . . The Gypsy question can only be solved when . . . the good-for-nothing Gypsy individuals . . . [are] in large labor camps and kept working there, and when further breeding of this population . . . is stopped once and for all."

The National Socialist Workers Party (NAZI) rounded up the Gypsies for "protective custody," and shipped them off to concentration camps. Gypsy persons were forcibly sterilized, the subjects of medical experiments, injected with typhus, worked to death, starved to death, froze to death, and gassed in various numbers. The total dead at the hands of the Nazis is estimated to be 275,000.

KALDERASH WOMEN ON THE MARCH IN ENGLAND, 1911
KALDERASH WOMEN ON THE MARCH IN ENGLAND, 1911
GYPSY BEAR TRAINERS
GYPSY BEAR TRAINERS

Gypsy History

 

By the 1960s, Gypsy caravans were now mostly drawn with motorized vehicles, and tents had largely been replaced by rough shacks.  Many took up residence in state supplied slum housing.  Most Gypsies remained uneducated and illiterate.  Many of the men became scrap dealers, and some worked with copper to produce ornamental, decorative pieces of art.  Gypsy women were still noted for fortune telling and begging.  Some Gypsy children turned to shoplifting, picking pockets, and stealing from vehicles, since they were immune to prosecution. 

One would expect that Gypsy people would have fared well under Communist regimes, what with their stated philosophy of equality for all.  But entrepreneurial activities were illegal in Communist states, and these were the specialties of Gypsies.  

There were 134,000 Gypsies in the Soviet Union in 1959; by the census of 1979 they numbered 209,000.  Nomadism was against Soviet law.  Work in Soviet factories and farms held little appeal to Gypsies. 

Starting in the 1950s, Poland offered housing and employment to Gypsies, but most continued to wander.  Therefore, Gypsies were forbidden to travel in caravans in 1964.  This law was strictly enforced, and within two years 80 percent of Gypsy children were enrolled in school. 

In Czechoslovakia, a law was passed in 1958 that forced Gypsies into settlements.  Violators had their horses killed and wagons burned.  The Czech people looked down on Gypsies as a primitive, backward, and degenerate people.  222,000 of them were counted in the 1966 census, and 9 percent of all babies born that year in Czechoslovakia were Gypsies.  Their numbers rose to 288,000 by 1980. 

Romania, in the early 1970s, tried to obliterate Gypsy culture and force the Gypsies into squalid ghettos.  Their valuables were confiscated, including their favorite form of savings—huge old gold coins.  Bulgaria forbade Gypsies to travel and closed their associations and newspapers. 

Things were better under the milder form of Communism practiced in Yugoslavia.  There we see television and radio stations that broadcast in the Romani language.  Gypsies began to participate in regional politics, and a few hundred of them became doctors, lawyers, and engineers.  Still, only 20 percent of Gypsy adults had even attended elementary school.  They settled in small towns, and began buying and selling ready-made goods, surplus and seconds, and used clothing. 

GYPSY DANCER
GYPSY DANCER

Gypsy Life

 

Gypsies embraced education more readily in Britain.  They seemed to become aware that at least basic school learning is necessary in the modern age.  It is handy to be able to write estimates and receipts; to read plans and manuals; to hold a driving license and insurance; and mostly, to be able to deal with Britain's social services bureaucracy. 

A 1989 report by the  European Community stated that only 35 percent of 500,000 Gypsy children in the 12 member states attended school regularly; half had never been to school even one time; hardly any went on to secondary education; and Gypsy adults had an illiteracy rate of 50 percent. 

Spain decided to integrate the Gypsies, but there was a fierce backlash from Spanish citizens against having Gypsies as neighbors, or having their children attend school with Gypsy children.  In Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria settled Gypsy families were beaten up and their houses set on fire.  For this reason, some reverted to the nomadic life. 

THE CARAVANS - GYPSY CAMP NEAR ARLES (PAINTING BY VINCENT VAN GOGH)
THE CARAVANS - GYPSY CAMP NEAR ARLES (PAINTING BY VINCENT VAN GOGH)

GYPSIES

Today, there are five or six million Gypsies living in Europe. Over one million live in Romania; half a million in both Bulgaria and Hungary; a quarter of a million in Russia, Spain, Serbia, and Slovakia.

In France and Italy, Gypsy families still work the circus and fairgrounds. In many countries they operate repair services of various types; sell used cars, furniture, antiques, and junk; sell carpet and textiles. They still hawk, make music, and tell fortunes.

One new development is the rise in Pentecostalism among Gypsies. There is even a Gypsy Evangelical Church, with over 200 churches in France alone.

There have been six World Romani Congress forums held, from 1971 to 2004, to discuss how best to press for rights for the Gypsy people.

My primary source for this article is The Gypsies by Sir Angus Fraser.


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Comments 374 comments

James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 18 months ago from Chicago Author

Arthur Cortez--- Thank you for reading my article. I appreciate your comments. There is much truth in what you say.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 18 months ago from Chicago Author

Sergio---Yes, you are right that there is no shortage of criminals in this world.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 18 months ago from Chicago Author

WillStarr!!! Thank you for posting those amazing stories. I can see the Gypsies are still at it! That is a shame, my friend. But truly fascinating at the same time.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 18 months ago from Chicago Author

Carrie Lee Night~ You are most welcome. Thank you very much for taking the time to read my Hub. I appreciate your interesting comments, too.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 18 months ago from Chicago Author

mishelle~ Good for you! I hope you and yours have wonderful, adventurous, and fulfilling lives. Thanks for commenting!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 18 months ago from Chicago Author

Sergio! "Roma are Roma." Gotcha!!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 18 months ago from Chicago Author

Amie Butchko~ So glad to have been of service. Thank you for reading my Hub and for your warm words. Now you can rest easy. :D


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 18 months ago from Chicago Author

Jay~ Thank you for the link to that incredible Gypsy violinist! If he comes to Chicago, please let me know.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 18 months ago from Chicago Author

Pedro---Thank you for sharing with us that remarkable story. I had not heard that before. It is quite interesting indeed.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 18 months ago from Chicago Author

Gayla Sims---Thank you very much for taking the time to read my article. I enjoyed your comments, which are fascinating. Fortune Teller and Horse Trader must have been common professions for Gypsies down through the ages, from what I can tell. As far as tracing your family tree, I have been doing that lately myself through ancestry dot com. But I warn you, it is highly addictive! :-)


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 18 months ago from Chicago Author

latifah~ I am sorry it took me so long to answer your question. I have not been on this site much as I have been distracted by other things, especially working on my next book. But the answer is that Gypsy music has greatly affected music in the countries in which they have settled.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 18 months ago from Chicago Author

Carolina~ Thank you very much and you are most welcome!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 18 months ago from Chicago Author

Hasima Beganovic (mimi)---You are quite welcome. I am glad you enjoyed my article. Thanks for telling me so.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 18 months ago from Chicago Author

Sergio~ I do not disagree with many of your assertions. You also ask a very good question about the origins of various peoples. I address this in my book: http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-World-The-First-Years/...


Arthur Cortez 18 months ago

The FIFA Mafia is the Organization of International Criminals and Gangsters just like the former ENRON Corporation, the Roma people are poor just like the 75% of the people across the world!


Sergio 18 months ago

Many criminals in this world are similar to Bernie Madoff & his Co. friends!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 20 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Pregnant Gypsy women show up in labor so that the hospital has to deliver their babies for free. When that happens, the entire family shows up, overwhelming the labor and delivery staff, and they steal everything that's not nailed down. When my wife worked in Denver, they stole the TV off the wall!

Three Gypsies saw my elderly parents having coffee on their back patio so they invited themselves in. One asked to use the bathroom, and stole Dad's wallet, Mom's purse, and some jewelry. The police said that they had been operating in their neighborhood for a few days, but they were never caught. Mom and Dad lost about $900.00 all told.

Needless to say, I am not an admirer of Gypsies. To me, they are just low thieves.


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carrie Lee Night 2 years ago from Northeast United States

Interesting hub ! :) I loved to hear about all the history and culture. I wanted to point out that when I lived in Europe there were some Gypses who still used their children as pick pockets. (This is not meant to offend anyone or claim that all Gypses do such a thing). I still do not judge anyone :) Thank you for sharing with us.


mishelle 2 years ago

My mother side is gypsy, i love the culture the life and i have chosen to raise my children and live my life continuing out gypsy traditions.


Sergio 2 years ago

Fascist and Nazis were and they are still Criminal Gypsies. Roma are Roma, not Gypsies!


amiebutchko profile image

amiebutchko 2 years ago from Warwick, NY

Great article. When I was little, my aunt used to tell me she was going to sell me and my siblings to the gypsies. That always terrified us as we had no idea who they were! Now I have the answer.....


Jay 2 years ago

All who are interested in things Gypsy, especially music. We're planning on bringing the world's number 1 Gypsy Music band to the US for a late 2014 tour. To get information log on to our web site www.violin2000.com and leave a comment. We'll keep you posted on tour dates, locations and ways to get the best tickets early.


pedro 3 years ago

Irish and Scottish gypsy tinkers have been wandering for 1 to 2,000 years according to DNA studies. Does the legends about crucifixion nails originate with them and not the Romani? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFubMEC6ClY


Gayla sims 3 years ago

I loved reading this on The Gypsies. I'm doing a family history and I knew my grandpa was Roma Gypsy from him telling my Mom. She was never told details. Grandpa always looked for his Mother and his sister , his father left them in Utah and Grandpa was taken to Calif. They were never found. We would go to Utah in the summer to the Mormon church and search records.. In my Family History search I have found Censes of their family on Indian Reservations in Idaho and Washington in the early 1900s on the Mormon census. It said Grandpa's Mother Rachael was a Fortune Teller and his Father was a horse Trader. I found his Mother years after the split in Arizona , but have never found Grandpa's Sister Goldy.. Would Their Mother have gave her up for adoption?? being she was on her own? I enjoyed the information. Thank you. I'm not sure on how to trace Great-Grandpas family back before he was born, like did they come from England?


latifah 3 years ago

hey James, I was wondering if you could tell me anything about how gypsy migration affected the music culture of the countries they passed through?


Carolina 3 years ago

-Network Blogs Name: Anne E.Google+ Name: Francine E.I'm Subscribed to You in Google Reader (RSS) and through Email with this Email: alyiskas (at) yahoo dot comTHANKS!


Hasima Beganovic (mimi) 3 years ago

Hi , I never met my dad but knew he was gypsy , so i'm a muslim and gypsy . I never knew they sold their daughters . Thanks a lot for writing this it told me a lot about gypsies and now I know more about them . thanks you , hasima beganovic (mimi)


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 3 years ago from Chicago Author

Kaie Arwen--- Ahhh!! My favorite Hubber! It is always a distinct pleasure to see that you have been reading my work again. This warms the cockles of my heart. You have made my day, my dear.

I appreciate your recognition of some of my finer pieces of work. I mean, I like them! :-)

Yea, my Author Score reflects the fact that the Staff at HubPages does not like my political views, and totally disdains the fact that I articulate them so well as to be beyond refutation by any truthful soul.

From the raw statistics anyone can see right through their claim that it is simply mysterious algorithms at play. Sure, and the moon is made of green cheese. I don't know where I would be without your encouragement and support. From the bottom of my heart, I thank thee.

JJRBJ


Sergio 3 years ago

Hi James , I would like to tell you this: When you read or heard Gypsy, Gypsies, Gyppos, Gypsy-Cab that all must be for the other something Illegal and Criminal, but Roma people haven't nothing to do with Gypsies! Roma people spoke Romanes their own language! The real Gypsies spoke all other languages English,French,Italian,German,Russian,Croatian,Albanian,Hungarian,

Arabic, Asian etc. Roma people were marked as Gypsies by non Roma people, just as the Africans they were marked by non Africans as Negros, Blacks etc. This Stereo Style of racist society is part of National Culture of the world for the last of 2.000 years and is still alive today! Roma aren't Gypsies, Roma are Roma. The majority of people haven't any proof of origin about Roma people and it is just speculation as Hitler's Team of Racist Experts used India.

I t will be interested to find out from where originally come into the world the English, French, Germans, Italians, Russians, Albanians, Czechs, Polish,Swedish, Norwegians, Danish, Hungarians, Serbians, Croatians, Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Greeks, Algerians, Syrians, Egyptians, Saudi Arabians, Iraqis, etc? What you think James?


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 3 years ago

JJRBJ- Gypsies, Vietnam, The World is Alive, and a repertoire of other impeccably written pieces leaves the author with a score of "76" ????????? A lack of credibility seems to be shadowing Hubpages itself; they need to have their algorithms checked........... or possibly that's the problem; they've "checked" them. ~ YKSBHMF


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James A Watkins 3 years ago from Chicago Author

PAUL BAKER UK-- Yes, Paul. You are right that the slaughter of the buffalo was a terrible thing for the American Indians. And a terrible thing period. Senseless and useless and extremely wasteful.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read my article about Gypsies. I am not sure what Buffalo and Indians have to do with Gypsies but anyway, I appreciate your comments.


PAUL BAKER UK 3 years ago

DID NOT ALL THE BUFFALO THAT GOT SLAUGHTED HAVE A DETRIMENTAL EFFECT ON THE INDIANS THAT IS A DOCUMENTED FACT IS IT NOT.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 3 years ago from Chicago Author

Shanti Perez-- You are quite welcome. Thank you for taking the time to read it. I look forward to reading some of your writings. Welcome to the HubPages Community!

James :-)


Shanti Perez profile image

Shanti Perez 3 years ago from Spokane, Washington, U.S.A.

Thank you for writing all of this! A lot of facts and history.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 3 years ago from Chicago Author

Marija--- Hello! I have a few friends in Orlando, Florida who are from Croatia, from Split.

I am so glad that you enjoyed reading my article about the Gypsies. Thank you for taking the time to read it. I very much appreciate your nice note. I enjoyed reading your thoughful and insightful remarks.

Merry Christmas!

James


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James A Watkins 3 years ago from Chicago Author

Hello Sergio!! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I hope that 2013 is the best year of your life yet.

God Bless You.

James


Sergio 3 years ago

Hi James, I wish you Health, Merry Christmas, Peace & Good Luck in 2013! Sergio


marija 3 years ago

hi,

I come from Croatia. been living near the gypsies my whole life, went to school with them . I'm glad I found out so much about their origin and their way of living throughout, well, the millennium. that explains alot of their habits and lifestyle. they settled almost 50 years ago in my town and it takes time to adjust to each other.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

Phyllis Doyle— Hello there! You are most welcome. I do apologize for not responding sooner to your awesome remarks. I have been quite ill for nearly 2 weeks now.

Anyway, I thank you very much for taking the time to read my articles. It means a lot to me that you would.

I am now officially back to work on my book, after a 2 month hiatus to clear my head of it. I am refreshed and excited to finish it now. I will let you know when it is done, my friend.

Well, I sincerely appreciate your kind comments and warm words. Thanks again for visiting. :-)

James


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 4 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

Hi James. Your reply to Sergio, three days ago, really sparked my interest and I am now off to read your hub that you gave a link to.

I follow the comments to this Gypsy hub and find them very interesting. I always admired the Gypsy people for being able to hold on to their traditions and way of life regardless of where they must journey in life.

Thank you for writing such interesting and detailed hubs that continue to hold my interest long after I have read them -- that is the mark of a great writer that you can do that. I am anxious to read your book when you have it published.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

Sergio— Hello again, my friend! I am sorry it took so long to respond. The results of the recent election here had me quite depressed. But I am feeling better.

I appreciate you coming back by. Thank you for your additional comments, which are insightful. I am part Native American.

Your 'friends' are way off base with their ideas. Probably not their fault. They just regurgitate what they have been taught.

Oil was not discovered until around 1900 and the conflicts with the Indians long over by then. And gold was very little of the reason behind any conflict between whites and Indians. Maybe in the Black Hills. The Europeans who first came to America absolutely did not come for riches. They came for religious freedom. They certainly had no intentions of killing anybody and surely did not consider themselves capable of wiping out a race of people—genocide—even if they wanted to, which they didn't.

In the 17th century, America was primitive and nearly vacant. A few million Neolithic people were scattered over millions of square of miles of land.

In 1630, American Indians numbered 400,000 east of the Appalachian Mountains. 3,800 people from England had joined them. The Indians were crippled by tribal feuds, and then decimated by infectious diseases such as smallpox, chicken pox, measles, and influenza, for which evolution or Providence had afforded them no protection.

Up to 90 percent of these Indians had disappeared from disease by 1670. The Indians had low fertility rates, partly because they breast-fed infants for three or four years. They suffered from very high infant mortality.

In contrast, the English reproduced at the biological maximum—8.3 children per wife. By 1690, the English outnumbered the Indians east of the Appalachians. The English colonists did not come to America to convert, enslave, or kill the Indians.

The ideas promulgated by those who are on a mission to deconstruct America—the colonists stole or defrauded Indians of their land and committed genocide—are false.

Indians were thrilled to sell land to colonists—they had an almost unlimited supply of it. The Indians coveted the knives, hoes, clothes, and jewelry the colonists had a limited supply of to trade. Indians often initiated these trades. The Puritans allowed Indians to hunt and fish on lands after they purchased them. Boundary disputes were rare.

The English settlers were so far advanced compared to the indigenous tribes in technology, agriculture, and plain organizational skills, that if it was a Darwinian contest for an ecological niche, it was no contest.

The colonists did not think themselves racially superior to Indians. They believed Indians were only dark- skinned due to effects of the sun. They thought themselves culturally superior; though it is not clear what you would expect them to think when they met people who had not yet discovered the wheel, possessed no written language, and were essentially living in the Stone Age.

These are just a few of the real facts. For the whole story, I wrote about it in anotheer article, which is here:

http://hubpages.com/education/America-in-the-17th-...

It is a dirty world in which we live, Sergio. Best wishes and God Bless You!

james :)


Sergio 4 years ago

Hi James again, I was talking with Native American Indians in Virginia and as well in Mexico about the genocide. Yes it was genocide, gold,oil and the land was the reason why the European Invaders started the genocide of Native American Indians in the North and South of America. Nothing much was change, the genocide of another people is still on in different part of the world even today for the a same reason by educated people with high profile. It is dirty world James the place where we live. Best wishes.Sergio


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James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

oceansider— Hello there, Helen!

The Gypsies are truly a fascinating people with an incredible story. I am glad you enjoyed my essay about them.

Thank you for taking the time to come and read my Hub. I surely appreciate your kind compliments and excellent comments. And you are quite welcome. It is great to hear from you!

Ciao,

James


oceansider 4 years ago

Hi James,

What a wonderful article about gypsies. I never really knew much about them, where they were from or what they did. Thank you for telling us about the history of the gypsy people....it's very interesting reading!...I never knew that the Nazis captured gypsies & tortured and killed them....and I didn't realize they came first from India....thanks for all the info.

Take care, Helen


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

uturn— You are quite welcome. Thank you very much for taking the time to read my article. I am sorry it is so long. And that is even after I cut it down some. It is a long story. I appreciate your patience.

Your comments are fascinating, to be sure. I am glad you posted them here. God will set things straight in the end. That's right. God Bless You!


uturn 4 years ago

Very time consuming article of history and thanks for insight even if not all true ! Great to see time put into this and love learning history. Many thanks for you taken the time ...

About genocide ! I say that war can be manipulated for a form of genocide and that man and power of govt s people/doers and not the Head as figure head,just the plotters of doing in humans for the fact of people not growing and or for take over and all the spies/Salvatore shit that goes with the discus sting human piece of shits that preform and come up with ways to kill and control humans. GOD WILL END THIS FOR SURE AND THE PEOPLE OF THE PLOT !!


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James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

rickylicea— I think you are on to something.

I appreciate your encouragement of my work. I am sure I will be back publishing new Hubs as soon as I finish my first book. Thank you for the compliments.


rickylicea 4 years ago

Wow, it felt like reading a magazine article.

Perhaps the tendency of the state to have a sedentary populace that can be easily directed, is what makes the gypsies so unpopular.

I think I'm going to go over all your archive.

Hope you write more hubs.


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James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

Western Canada— As to your other two comments that have nothing to do with Gypsies:

Genocide is defined in my dictionary as the "systematic, planned annihilation of a racial, cultural or political group." Annihilation refers to killing human beings, with malice and aforethought. People being killed accidentally by smallpox is not genocide; people killed on the losing side of war is not genocide. Indian children being educated as to bring them out of the Stone Age and into the modern world is not genocide.

The apologies you mention from the Canadian Government for the Residential Schools do not mention genocide. Now you propose this new term: "Cultural Genocide." I find it fascinating that haters of civilization believe every culture is worth preserving—even cannibals who run around naked and practice human sacrifice—except Western Culture, the only one that has lifted mankind out of the morass of mass ignorance and delivered prosperity like the world had never dared dream possible and provides Western-haters with the very tools that allow them to manifest this hatred: the printing press, electricity, telephones, computers, the internet, et al.

Anybody can spout off any kind of nonsense but that doesn't make it true. I found some groups claiming "cultural genocide" had taken place against American Indians but you dropped the word "culture" making it appear that it was genocide such as the true meaning of the word, e.g., Nazi Death Camps. This is pure propaganda inspired by Satan, the Father of Lies.

The article to which you kindly provided a link in "OB RAG" is chock full of lies and bending of the truth. It claims itself to be a "progressive" rag—code for "anti-heterosexual white Christian man and his Western Civilization of which we are insanely envious and that we hate because we worship in the Synagogue of Satan." The article claims the State of California hired militias to "exterminate" Indians and that is total BS. The militias were formed to protect white men, women, and children who were being exterminated by Indians.

http://www.militarymuseum.org/MilitiaandIndians.ht...

When Mexico became independent in 1821, California was a remote and nearly uninhabited land. It had no schools or industry; life was lived in chaos and anarchy. Disease carried by the Spaniards killed off 75% of the 75,000 Native Americans in California by 1800. That is not genocide because they didn't do it on purpose. In 1848, the entire population of California was 40,000—10,000 Americans; 10,000 Mexicans; 20,000 Native Americans. The article you sent me claims there were hundreds of thousands of Indians in California in 1848 and that is pure nonsense. What is going on here is the making up of lies to smear the white man. It spreads through so-called "multiculturalism" and its attendant "political correctness" both of which originated from Cultural Marxists—all Atheists and Marxists—bent on destroying Western Civilization, Free Enterprise, the Rule of Law, Freedom and Liberty, and the Christian Faith.

The Canadian Indian residential school system was intended to assimilate the children of the Aboriginal peoples in Canada into European-Canadian society. The purpose was never "genocide." You need to read something of history that was not written by Western-haters inspired by the Devil.

Thank you for your comments. You forced me to spend a couple hours researching this history in Canada and California. The only websites I can find that back up your point of view are hack sites set to grind axes against the people to which a great debt is owed for bringing these people out of the Stone Age. I am between 1/8 and 1/4 Indian myself (Cherokee) but the Truth is the Truth and the Truth is that my Indian ancestors had not yet discovered the wheel. I thank God that I do not have to live as the Indians did before the white man brought modernity. I like my air conditioning and planes, trains, and automobiles. I like television and movies and recordings of music. I like modern medicine and the great cities of the white man. I enjoy the modern world. I am no primitive savage. And the Noble Savage is a myth.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

Western Canada— You are quite welcome. Thank you very much for taking the time to read my article. I certainly never meant to imply that Gypsies were a distinct "race" of people. They do appear to me to be a distinct "people." You may not see yourself as exotic but I do and I am the author of my piece. Exotic is surely not meant as any type of insult. The word means "from another part of the world" which to me, as a Western Man, they are. It can also mean "intriguingly unusual" which to most people everywhere is a description that applies.

You mention "because of the way we were segregated in Europe" referring to quite olden days but that segregation was CHOSEN because the Gypsies I refer to were constantly on the move, traveling, specifically rejected the European lifestyle of settling down in a house in a town, etc. etc. etc. Which I think is just fine but I wouldn't act like someone forced them to live that lifestyle. In fact no forced to come to Europe at all. I believe many people from the Gypsie background over the centuries did settle down and eventually blend in with the people around them. In other words, many people may have some Gypsy blood and not know it. It was the ones who continued to live a completely different lifestyle than their European hosts who stood out as "exotic."

I enjoyed your excellent commentary very much and I appreciate you chiming in here. I do not claim to know more about your people than you do. I only enjoy teaching people about interesting knowledge they might be curious about and from the amount of readership this Hub has gotten I can tell you this is a subject that arouses much interest.


western canada 4 years ago

CORRECTION:

10,000 lawsuits, not class-action lawsuits, were filed over residential school abuse. The lawsuits were grouped into a class-action lawsuit in 1995. In 1998, an apology was issued, but it was not until 2007 that a full apology and compensation were issued, and that a Genocide was officially acknowledged to have occurred.


western canada 4 years ago

And by the way, on a related note, James A Watkins, I read a comment in which you stated that there was no genocide of Native Americans.

Where I live, in Canada, an estimated 40-60 000 First Nations children died in the church-run Residential Schools. The RCMP, Truth and Reconciliation Committee, and local police are still collecting forensic evidence, and have exhumed dozens of mass graves at these schools. I personally attended the Truth and Reconciliation Committee hearings in Victoria. The Prime Minister of Canada issued a formal apology several years ago, and the Government has officially admitted that a genocide occurred. Over 150,000 Canadian First Nations and Metis children were placed in Residential schools until 1984, and another 100,000 were routinely removed from their homes by authorities, often for no reason at all, during the "Sixties Scoop" (which lasted until 1985). As early as 1995, there were as many as 10,000 class action lawsuits filed against the federal government, many of them for severe crimes, such as murder, rape, torture, and forcible confinement. I personally have many friends who are First Nations, and I can personally attest from hearing the first-hand testimonies of their parents and grandparents that horrific atrocities took place systematically, right up until 1984. The mother of one of my friends was repeatedly raped at Kuper Island Residential School, just north of where I live, and witnessed other classmates being beaten to death. She attended the school until 1973. Her case was verified as true during an official government investigation. While there were many isolated cases of children who found protection and guidance by some residential school techers, the system was intended to destroy First Nations culture, and the overwhelming result was a genocide directed against First Nations children.

http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/index.ph...

http://www.shenandoahfilms.com/Kuper-Island-Return...

www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXPYWbLFn9I

http://issuu.com/canadashistory/docs/teachingcanad...

As for the USA, you might want to read up on what happened in Northern California, Wounded Knee, or Florida. Those were incidents where people were killed, beyond a reasonable doubt, not by disease, but by military and paramilitary genocide.

http://obrag.org/?p=1412

You should really do your research, James.


western canada 4 years ago

Dear James A Watkins,

I appreciate the time you took to write your article.

I do have some comments, though. I have two constructive criticisms to make, as well as some cultural information you might find interesting.

My two constructive criticisms are:

1) The article seems to imply that gypsies are a "race" (it's worth asking what "race" even is, or whether it's just a concept), and often fails to describe the Romany as an extremely diverse collection of peoples. A good comparison to the Romany would be the Native American cultures of North America: many peoples with distinct cultures, but related by shared values.

2) The article begins by describing the Gypsies as an "exotic" people. Please, I would urge you to avoid making such a statement. What is and isn't exotic is a matter of personal perception; it's a judgment. Even if it's a well-intentioned statement, it opens the door to stereotyping and discrimination. I don't see myself as "exotic".

Now, for some info that might further challenge your perception of the Roma.

I am a mixed-ancestry Romany living in British Columbia, Canada. My father is white; my mother is a Gypsy. Her family immigrated to Canada in the late 1800's from an area of Europe called Bukovina.

Now, my family did not label themselves as "Gypsy". My mother definitely has East Indian ancestry (and possibly some African as well). A long time ago, my family chose to embrace Judaism. In a sense, being Jewish was a way of being Romany; it was a way of being different. Because of the way we were segregated in Europe, we were classified as Jews instead of Gypsies, although we were also discriminated against for being brown. In living memory, no one in my family has spoken a Romany dialect; we spoke Yiddish in Europe. That being said, we had many connections with other Romany groups. In the 1700's we were forced into urban ghettoes where there were severe food shortages. During this time, some of my family members moved to Palestine, to Safed, where they studied Kabbalist mysticism. In the 1840s we were moved into a rural Reservation/shtetl in Bukovina--very close to the Csango and Hutsul commnities, who are indigenous groups that continue to practice their ways.

Gypsies like me in North America continue to draw on our heritage and culture, while striving to develop our identities in an ever-changing world. I listen to death metal music and rap and wear jeans, but I also practice Kabbalist mysticism in the tradition of my ancestors. The world is a troubled place, and every culture has it's problems (I even have family members who fit some of the negative Roma stereotypes). By drawing on the knowledge of where we come from, we can all try and build a better world, a sustainable world, one that is rich in prosperity and beauty.

Thank you for reading this commentary, Mr.Watkins.

peace


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

Vegas Elias— Welcome to the HubPages Community! I look forward to reading some of your writings, which I shall attend to soon.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article about the Gypsies. I appreciate your thoughtful and insightful comments.

I am well pleased to meet the gentleman from Mumbai. I see from your profile page we share an intense interest in history and religion.

James


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James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

Phyllis Doyle— Hello there! It is great to hear from you again, my dear. I hope all is well with you and yours. Thank you for your excellent comments. I appreciate you coming back to read this Hub again. And you are most welcome.

I am fascinated by the Gypsies too. Always have been.

james :)


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James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

Angela Brummer— Thank you for the kind compliments. I appreciate the visit and I look forward to reading some of your Hubs soon. :D

James


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James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

kashmir56— Hello there! I am glad you found this Hub, and well pleased that you enjoyed it. :)

You know I appreciate the vote up and even more that you shared my article with your other friends. Awesome! Thank you very much for visiting and for the accolades. It is always a pleasure to hear from you.


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Vegas Elias 4 years ago from Mumbai

It is very difficult to ascertain from where the Gypsies dispersed throughout Asia and Europe. However given their dress and lifestyle it is safe to deduce that they may be from Rajasthan, India, as this is the place where people still dress up that way and have similar traditions and music.

I feel they should be recognized as an international community.


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Phyllis Doyle 4 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

Hi James. Once in a while I come back to read this hub. I have, since a little girl, always been intrigued by the Gypsy peoples. They have held on to their traditions, way of dress, and beliefs for centuries. Few peoples retain the ancestral ways in this day and age like the Gypsies do -- so, I like reading about them. I just wanted to thank you again for such an interesting hub. :)


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James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

NearFar— I had not heard that horrific story. I appreciate you bring it to my attention. Thank you for reading my article.


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Angela Brummer 4 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

THis is so well researched and written. Im Very intigued by the Gypsies!


kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 4 years ago from Massachusetts

Hi my friend, some how i missed this hub. I enjoyed reading this interesting and fascinating history of gypsies . Much of it i did not know before but thanks to your research and great writing i have learned more about gypsies,well done !

Vote up and more !!! SHARING !


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James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

Mike— I appreciate your comments. Thank you very much for taking the time to read my article and respond. It is good to hear an eyewitness report. I haven't seen anything like what you report myself. Then again I cannot discount your account either. No worries about grammar here. Thanks again.


NearFar 4 years ago

One can see today, a German girl, held hostage over 8 years by a Bosnia Roma couple, where she was fed pig food, raped and made to pull a cart while the couple laughed. There is no defense of this horrific inhuman mistreatment. They cannot spend enough years in jail to pay for this crime.


Mike 4 years ago

Please excuse my grammar mistakes, i did not check for the them when i posted (and i see there is no edit button). My apologize


Mike 4 years ago

The truth is that gypsies steal, kill, rape and do all sort of bad things.

Now before you jump at me and call me a racist or what ever word you heard on the internet, here this.

If seen gypsies attack people with knivesm trying to steal lil kids in my country. Don't dare say "huh wheres is the proof" there videos from news stations in my country. where a women was hit by a car and people rushed to her aid. while the gypsies came and stole her bags and money.

I saw little gypsy kids with knives stealing from people in the bus and trolley.

And i could go on for ages. I have horrible stories with facts! Videos from the news stations.

These are the real gypsies.


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James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

Honza—Well, I am not sure how "official" it is but I believe the story I told here to be the Truth. Gypsies are definitely not from Egypt or Israel. It appears they are from India originally but you may have noticed that my recent guest "Sergio" is a Roma person and he says the Roma are not Gypsies and that they originate in Persia.

Thank you very much for reading my article and posting your comments.


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James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

whowas— You are quite welcome, my friend. I appreciate you coming over to visit and reading my article on the Gypsies. Thank you ever much for the kind compliments and the voted up.

Welcome, Austin, to the HubPages Community! I look forward to reading your writings, which I shall attend to soon. Like you, I also "have a passion for history," and would like to consider myself "a renaissance man." :D

I enjoyed reading your fascinating profile page. How blessed you are to "live between homes in the North of England and Central Italy, with my wife, two home-educated children, a dog and several chickens."

Your comments are extraordinarily interesting, especially the part about Jesus and the Gypsy boy. I am glad you shared that with us. Thanks again for your excellent remarks.

James


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James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

Sergio— Thank you for the best wishes and your kind comments. I am well pleased that we engaged on this subject. :D

James


Honza 4 years ago

So is this the official information of where Romani come from? Cuz Im a 17 year old Gypsy and I am from Czech Repbulic, and I keep hearing that they are from either Israel or Egypt. So I would like to know on where they are actually orginated.


whowas 4 years ago

A marvellous and informative hub, sir!

I live a large part of the year in the far North East of England, very near the coast. This is the least populated county in the country but its wild and windswept landscape have been 'home' to generations of gypsies. Their camps are very evident along the local coastal roads. They graze their stock of horses, tethered on long chains on the commons and can often be seen riding bareback through the towns, or driving small horse-drawn carts along the beaches.

Of course, these days they are more likely to be wearing denims and a pair of sneakers and their caravans are large, modern homes towed by 4x4s. However, they keep up many of their old traditions and are very secretive, rarely mixing with the house-dwellers in the nearby communities, although some of their children do attend local schools.

Amongst themselves they still talk Romany and indeed, many Romani words have found their way into the local dialect. For example, a cluster of Northumbrain lads, watching the girls go by, might enjoin each other to 'deek a' tha' barey moart!' which is almost pure Romani for 'Look at the pretty woman!'

In this area, they still use horses as the main measure of wealth and many seem to make their living dealing in scrap metal.

I would venture (without intent to slander, as I have no direct evidence to support the case) that a certain amount of 'borrowing without permission' might also take place. On that point, I did once hear a local Gypsy defending his race's right to steal. He told a story and as I recall, he recounted how as Jesus was being laid out on the cross to be crucified, a Gypsy boy realized what the Romans were about to do and in a naïve attempt to save him from this fate, stole the nails that the soldiers had prepared nearby. Jesus saw the boy and bade him replace the nails as it was God's will. However, in acknowledgement of the boy's good heart, he pronounced there and then that in time of need, Gypsies would be exonerated and could disregard the ninth commandment!

Thanks for a very fine hub and an interesting read. Very happy to vote up and follow your writings.


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James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

opiningminion— You are quite welcome. Thank you for the gracious compliments. I am glad you enjoyed my article. Welcome to the HubPages Community! :)


Sergio 4 years ago

Hi James, we 7 Billions of people at the present time and the people after the next 100 years will have to learn about the mystery of the history of this world.

Best wishes and happy life in this planet of mystery!

Sergio


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James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

Kitty A Smith— Thank you very much for taking the time to read my article. I appreciate your gracious compliments.

I followed the link to your Lens and it is very cool. I enjoyed the pictures of the various vardo. It is always a pleasure to meet a fellow writer. :-)


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opiningminion 4 years ago

Thank you for a fresh and densly erudite piece. My reading of this was fortuitous yet timely as it has enriched my pursuits of the Romani culture.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

Sergio— Hello again! Welcome back.

Oh no, I never even implied that fat people or those who wear glasses were put in concentration camps by Nazis. What I said was:

"Thank you for the information about Genocide, Sergio. I read up on it and I am surprised at how broadly it is defined. It says genocide might include "mental harm." Wow! So fat people and people who wear glasses may be victims of genocide, too, if it is deemed they were mentally harmed by a society."

Obviously my comment is not about concentration camps at all but about the very broad definition of genocide you sent me that said it included any sort of "Mental Harm," which could mean nearly anything—even an insult can cause mental harm, one might suppose.

No, I have not visited the concentration camps. I am aware that Gypsies and Roma people were tortured and killed by the Nazis.

I hope you had a wonderful Easter. God Bless You. And thank you for your enlightened and enlightening comments.

James


Kitty A Smith 4 years ago

what an amazing Hub. You must have worked months gathering all of this informtion. I have just made a lens on Squidoo and in my research I found a drawing of the different styles of Vardo and this led me to your hub.

I am fascinated with the Vardo. Such beauty and practicality in one place. This led me to create a lens on it. http://hubpages.com/politics/gypsy-wagons


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

SarahandSophia— Welcome to the HubPages Community! I look forward to reading your writings.

Thank you for checking out my article and for the gracious compliments. I have been to Wales and wrote a Hub about it!

http://hubpages.com/travel/Wales-driving-tour...


Sergio 4 years ago

Hi James again, Do you know how many fat people and people who wear glasses woman,men,boys and girls end up their lives in Nazi Concentration Camps in Europe? Did you visit Dachau,Buchenwald,Auschwitz and other Monopoly Death Factory in Europe? No? So, try to visit the Nazis Paradise-Auschwitz in Poland. Than try to find something about White babies and children with blue eyes stolen from homes,schools,hospitals and streets by Nazis in Europe the children are alive today in Germany and they are German citizens but their real parents were murdered by Nazis in Europe. So when some racist or nazis will say that Roma steal children, than they have to study the Nazi Education of Crime Against Humanity. Nazis are still alive in this world,it is the heritage of uneducated criminals. Don't study Roma people,that is stereotypical habit! James try to study the history and heritage of genocide in this world,that is high education for every single person in this planet to learn why and how the genocide begin.

Happy Easter and Best Wishes.

Sergio


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SarahandSophia 4 years ago

Great hub! I come from a Romani gypsy background. My family settled on the Western coast of Wales in early 1800s after leaving the mainland. There are two Rom tribes in Wales although they are not travelers so much anymore. I always love reading about this culture.


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James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

Don Bobbitt-- You are most welcome, my friend. It is a pleasure to hear from you again. Thank you ever much for taking the time to read this article. I know it is really long and I appreciate your patience.

Your laudations made me smile! :D


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James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

GusTheRedneck-- Hello Gus! You are welcome. I appreciate the tip on how to find out more information from that fine source about the Gypsies.

Thank you for reading my article and for the accolades. :)

Your friend James


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James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

editorsupremo-- You are quite welcome. I appreciate the voted up! I am also well pleased by your kind comments.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I look forward to reading some of your Hubs, which I will attend to soon. :D


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

Thank you for the information about Genocide, Sergio. I read up on it and I am surprised at how broad it is defined. It says genocide might include "mental harm." Wow! So fat people and people who wear glasses may be victims of genocide, too, if it is deemed they were mentally harmed by a society.

I do see after further research that Roma people were enslaved for 500 years in Romania. I cannot seem to find any evidence of them being enslaved anywhere else, or by Columbus.

I do not agree that the Truth is dead. Nor do I agree that Jesus Christ is dead. He and it are very much alive, my friend.

I appreciate you illuminating my mind about some things. I have learned from you.

Faithfully Yours,

James


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Don Bobbitt 4 years ago from Ruskin Florida

James, Another great Hub by the master.

I somehow missed this one, but I really enjoyed it today.

Fantastic information on an interesting sub-culture of our world.

Thanks for your great work, Again!


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 4 years ago from USA

Hi James - As is your norm, this is a fine and accurate article. Thanks.

You can obtain a free download from www.gutenberg.org about Spanish Gypsies (entitled "the Zincali"). Interesting stuff.

Gus :-)))


editorsupremo profile image

editorsupremo 4 years ago from London, England

Wow, a fascinating history of Gypsies who have always held an air or mystique. I didn't know that they emerged from India, I always thought of Gypsies as Romanian or originating in Europe. Thanks for sharing the information.

Voted up!


Sergio 4 years ago

Hi James, if you will read the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide Adopted by Resulution 260(III)A of the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948 the article 2 and 3 you can read what is genocide. Yes Roma were sold on Auctions just like today Cars on Car Auctions. Yes Mr.Columbus take Roma people from Europe with him as Slaves. In South of Africa the German and other build Concentration Camps before Hitler and use Africans from South Africa and Roma people from Europe as Slaves,tortured and killed many of them. Part of Genocide is when somebody refuse to give you axes to drink water or leave you without of food. I have a friends the are Navajo but they are not any more Native Indians,they are Americans and they haven't horses, they have 4WD Jeeps. Anyway,it is interesting to change our opinion about history which will be mystery for ever because truth is always dead just like Jesus Christ. Best wishes and peace with you. Sergio


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

Sergio— You are welcome. I am part American Indian and I strongly disagree with your charcterization of "genocide" of Native Americans. That is a myth spawned by communist atheists who hate America. There never was any genocide. There were battles waged and won by both sides. There were small massacres by both sides. There were atrocities by both sides. Unfortunately, the whites, without knowing it, had germs that killed many Native Americans. None of these things qualify even remotely as "genocide."

The Roma were hunted and sold as slaves, you say? I was not aware of that.

Wait a minute . . . are you claiming that Columbus enslaved Roma peoples?

You ask me to read about the genocide in South Africa . . . of whom? Persian Romas?

I am familiar with the Armenian genocide of Christians by Muslims but what has that to do with Roma peoples?

Don't worry about your English. You are doing fine. Thank you for your comments.

James


Sergio 4 years ago

Hi James, thanks for your answer. If you will look and find the real genocide of Native American people in the North and South of America the Indians,you can find the Roma history as well. In Brasil there is millions of Roma people from Spain,Portugal and from all Europe, but most of them haven't idea that they are Roma they are Brasilians. There grandfathers and grandmothers were hunted and sold as Slaves when Mr.Columbus & Company from Europe established North & South of America. Former President of Brasil Juscelino Kubitchek was son of Roma family from Czechoslovakia and he was the founder of the city Brasilia but later his life end up with sad story. I wrote book about my life many publishers like to read my story but nobody like to published, it is true story and true story is always hard for many people to heard,read or see it just like the story of Genocide in South of Africa or in Armenia where many Roma live for long time.

My English is very bad so I am sorry for the mistakes.

Best wishes.

Sergio


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

Sergio— I am glad you came back and shared with me the story of your grandfather. I hope you share that with your children and always keep the memory of the ancient ones alive.

I must thank you for the pleasure of learning more about your people from you. Your remarks are truly extraordinary.

I cannot explain the subjects I choose to write about. I might just wake up one day and the thought hits me to write about this or that. I write about what I find fascinating. I keep a list, which now must have around 80 topics on it. I do not have the time to get to them all.

One day I got to thinking about Gypsies. I didn't know much about them except from movies. So, I did some research and bought the most highly recommended book about Gypsies and made notes while I read it of what struck me as the most interesting parts of the story.

I do not speak the language, no. I am a typical American: monolingual. :D

It is nice to meet you, Sergio. Thank you for the illuminating conversation.

James


Sergio 4 years ago

My grandfather told me the story of his grandfather,that's how I know about our origin. We hate wars for 7.000 years and we are persecuted till today in this world of wars, that is the reason why we will always run and survive! All the Experiments with us before Hitler,Stalin and even today will never change us! We are educated because we hate wars and we respect the nature. We have nothing to learn from people who created the wars and genocide for gold,silver, copper,timber,diamonds,ivory,oil,gas or religion. We know this world very well for 7.000 years. James, why you have interest about Roma? Do you speak Romanes? Best wishes.Sergio


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

Phyllis Doyle— Thank you!! It is great to "see" you again. I will be honored and thrilled if you share this Hub with your friends on Facebook! :D

I appreciate the visit and the accolades. I am glad you enjoyed my article.

Toodles!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

Neil Sperling— Like you, I lived a nomadic lifestyle at one time—for perhaps a decade. And yes, I love Gypsy music.

Thank you very much for coming over to read this article. I appreciate the laudations.

I will come by soon to read your new Hub and check out the upgrades to the one I have seen. Thanks for telling me about them.

James :D


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 4 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

James, this is a fantastic hub. The history of the Gypsy people is far more complex than I realized. You did a wonderful research and writing job on this, I am very impressed. I would love to share it on my facebook page if you do not mind.


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Neil Sperling 4 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

James - as usual a well researched and written hub. One I will come back to re-read as Gypsies fascinate me as I have moved around a lot myself. LOL Gypsies - always seem to be misunderstood and their poverty life style lead them often to crime for survival... yet their music is loved by all.

for your info - I updated the walk off the earth hub so it better answers how they did the numbers - plus I wrote another hub on the power of duplication.. i thought of your question (how did they do it) while I wrote both... hope you enjoy the upgrades and the new hub.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

Sergio— Thank you very much for taking the time to read my article. I appreciate your fascinating comments. It is good of you to set the record straight.


Sergio 4 years ago

We are NOT Gypsies and We are NOT from India!!!!!!!! We are people of Persian Empire the Roma,Kholi,Zott,Nuri etc. Our origin language was Parsi after so may wars in Persia we change our Parsi language because of the PERSECUTION!!!!! Just like the Irish people change the Irish original language into English because of the PERSECUTION for the last 800 years till today! Gypsies are not ROMA people,Gypsies are HOMELESS PEOPLE!!!!!! Roma people are NOT HOMELESS!!!!!!!!! That's all for today.


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James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

jainismus— You are welcome. Thank you for taking the time to read my Hub. I know it is a very long one. I appreciate this nice note from you.


jainismus profile image

jainismus 4 years ago from Pune, India

James A Watkins,

Interesting Hub. I had read about Gypsies long ago,but it was not in detail. You have given detailed information, thanks!


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