The Gipsies

Who are the Gypsies?

We don't know a great deal of things about them, partly because we lack old written testimonials. However, based on the similarities found in their language the experts came to the conclusion that they are originated in India. Also, they resemble with Hindu people, fact that confirm this theory. The language that they speak is called "romani" and "romanes" and, we should add for the record, that it has not any relationship with the "romanian" - the latin rooted language that Romanians speak.

How did they come?

It assumed that they come around one thousand years ago from Asia. Their first touch was made with Bizanthyne Empire, where they probably were miss identified with Egiptians - probably because of skin colour. From here they went to the territories where are now Greece and Bularia and from here to whole Europe, as the Turks pushed them to west. Therefore, by the 1400's all the Europe made aquintance with these nomad "Egyptians".

Why "Gypsy" and not "Roma"?

Because Egyptian is pronounced "Agiptianos" in Greek (language of Byzanthin Empire). The name was spread as such and became for short "Gypsy" in English, "Gitan" in French, and "Gitano" in Spanish. Other nations preffered to stick with the slavic name given by Serbs "cingarije". Please note that in Serbian you will pronounce "C' as "TZ". From here comes their name in Italian "Zingari", in Hungarian "Tzigoniuk" and in Romanian "Tigani", all af them being pronounced with "TZ". Although today the representatives of the Gypsy community is trying to convince that "Roma" is the "politicaly corect" name, we have evidence to say that "Gypsy" is not a bad name, afterall.

Why did they stay in such a large number in Romania?

The answer is very simple: they have been transformed in slaves. They have been put in chains as they were entered in Wallachia or they have been made prisioners first, when captured from Tattars and after that slaves. This practically means that they were "grounded". This should not be a surprise for you, as in Middle Ages this was a current practice. At the time not everybody could enjoy freedom, especially the peasants, who had similar rights with a slave. The Gyspies have been kept in slavery until the middle of the XIXth century, when they started to be released by categories.

A brief classification of the Gypsies.

According to their skills Gypsies can be broken down in several "profesional" groups:

  • rudari sau aurari - the gold seekers (in river water)
  • caramidari - brick makers
  • ursari - the ones who train bears to dance on the streets
  • lingurari - spoon producers
  • laiesi - blacksmiths
  • netoti - no special skills, usually use to live from robberies

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