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The Romani (also Romany, Romanies, Romanis, Roma or Roms; exonym: Gypsies; Rromane) are an ethnic group of Europe tracing their origins to medieval India.
The Romani are widely dispersed with their largest concentrated populations in Europe, especially the Roma of Central and Eastern Europe and Anatolia, followed by the Iberian Kale in Southwestern Europe and Southern France, with more recent diaspora populations in the Americas and, to a lesser extent, in other parts of the world.
Their Romani language is divided into several dialects, which add up to an estimated number of speakers larger than two million. The total number of Romani people is at least twice as large (several times as large according to high estimates), and many Romani are native speakers of the language current in their country of residence, or of mixed languages combining the two.
Distribution of the Romanies in Europe based on self-designation.
In the Romani language, ''rom'' is a masculine noun, meaning "man, husband", with the plural ''roma''. ''Romani'' is the feminine adjective, while ''romano'' is the masculine adjective. Some Romanies use ''Roma'' as an ethnic name, while others (such as the Sinti, or the Romanichal) do not use this term as a self-ascription for the entire ethnic group.
In the English language (according to OED), ''Rom'' is a noun (with the plural ''Roma'' or ''Roms'') and an adjective, while ''Romani'' (''Romany'') is also a noun (with the plural ''Romanies'' or ''Romanis'') and an adjective. Both ''Rom'' and ''Romani'' have been in use in English since the 19th century as an alternative for Gypsy. ''Romani'' was initially spelled ''Rommany'', then ''Romany'', while today the ''Romani'' spelling is the most popular spelling.
Sometimes, ''rom'' and ''romani'' are spelled with a double ''r'', i.e., ''rrom'' and ''rromani'', particularly in Romania in order to distinguish from the endonym for Romanians (''sg. român, pl. români''). This is well established in Romani itself, since it represents a phoneme (/ʀ/ also written as ''ř'' and ''rh'') which in some Romani dialects has remained different from the one written with a single ''r''.
Although ''Roma'' is used as a designation for the branch of the Romani people with historic concentrations in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, it is increasingly encountered during recent decades as a generic term for the Romani people as a whole.
Because all Romanies use the word ''Romani'' as an adjective, the term began to be used as a noun for the entire ethnic group.
Today, the term ''Romani'' is used by most organizations—including the United Nations, the Council of Europe, and the US Library of Congress.
The standard assumption is that the demonyms of the Romani people, Lom and Dom share the same origin.
The English term ''Gypsy'' (or ''Gipsy'') originates from the Greek word (''Aigyptoi'', whence modern Greek ''gifti''), in the erroneous belief that the Romanies originated in Egypt, and were exiled as punishment for allegedly harboring the infant Jesus.
This exonym is sometimes written with capital letter, to show that it designates an ethnic group.
As described in Victor Hugo's novel ''The Hunchback of Notre Dame'', the medieval French referred to the Romanies as ''egyptiens''. The term has come to bear pejorative connotations. The word "Gypsy" in English has become so pervasive that many Romani organizations use it in their own organizational names.
In North America, the word "Gypsy" is commonly used as a reference to lifestyle or fashion, and not to the Romani ethnicity. The Spanish term ''gitano'' and the French term ''gitan'' may have the same origin.
Population and subgroups
Many Romanies for a variety of reasons choose not to register their ethnic identity in official censuses. There are an estimated four million Romani people in Europe and Asia Minor (as of 2002), although some high estimates by Romani organizations give numbers as high as 14 million.
Significant Romani populations are found in the Balkan peninsula, in some Central European states, in Spain, France, Russia, and Ukraine. Several more million Romanies may live out of Europe, in particular in the Middle East and in the Americas.
The Romani people recognize divisions among themselves based in part on territorial, cultural and dialectal differences and self-designation. The main branches are:
# Roma, crystallized in Eastern Europe and Central Italy, emigrated also (mostly from the 19th century onwards), in the rest of Europe, but also on the other continents;
# Iberian Kale, mostly in Spain (see Romani people in Spain), but also in Portugal, Southern France and Latin America;
# Finnish Kale, in Finland, emigrated also in Sweden;
# Welsh Kale, in Wales;
# Romanichal, in the United Kingdom, emigrated also to the United States and Australia;
# Sinti, in German-speaking areas of Central Europe and some neighboring countries;
# Manush, in French-speaking areas of Central Europe;
# Romanisæl, in Sweden and Norway.
Among Romanies there are further internal differentiations, like Bashaldé; Churari; Luri; Ungaritza; Lovari (Lovara) from Hungary; Machvaya (Machavaya, Machwaya, or Macwaia) from Serbia; Romungro (Modyar or Modgar) from Hungary and neighbouring carpathian countries; Erlides (also ''Yerlii'' or ''Arli''); Xoraxai (Horahane) from Greece/Turkey; Boyash (Lingurari, Ludar, Ludari, Rudari, or Zlătari) from Romanian/Moldovan miners; Ursari from Romanian/Moldovan bear-trainers; Argintari from silversmiths; Aurari from goldsmiths; Florari from florists; and Lăutari from musicians.
Linguistic and genetic evidence indicates the Romanies originated from the Indian subcontinent, emigrating from India towards the northwest no earlier than the 11th century. The Romani are generally believed to have originated in central India, possibly in the modern Indian state of Rajasthan, migrating to northwest India (the Punjab region) around 250 B.C. In the centuries spent here, there may have been close interaction with such established groups as the Rajputs and the Jats. Their subsequent westward migration, possibly in waves, is believed to have occurred between 500 A.D. and 1000 A.D. Contemporary populations sometimes suggested as sharing a close relationship to the Romani are the Dom people of Central Asia and the Banjara of India.
The emigration from India likely took place in the context of the raids by Mahmud of Ghazni As these soldiers were defeated, they were moved west with their families into the Byzantine Empire. The 11th century ''terminus post quem'' is due to the Romani language showing unambiguous features of the Modern Indo-Aryan languages, precluding an emigration during the Middle Indic period.
Genetic evidence supports the medieval migration from India. The Romanies have been described as "a conglomerate of genetically isolated founder populations",
while a number of common Mendelian disorders among Romanies from all over Europe indicates "a common origin and founder effect". See also this table:
A study from 2001 by Gresham et al. suggests "a limited number of related founders, compatible with a small group of migrants splitting from a distinct caste or tribal group".
The same study found that "a single lineage ... found across Romani populations, accounts for almost one-third of Romani males." See also the Cohen Modal Haplotype.
A 2004 study by Morar et al. concluded that the Romani population "was founded approximately 32–40 generations ago, with secondary and tertiary founder events occurring approximately 16–25 generations ago".
Possible connection with the Jat people
While the South Asian origin of the Romani people has been long considered a certitude, the exact South Asian group from whom the Romanies have descended has been a matter of debate. The recent discovery of the "Jat mutation" that causes a type of glaucoma in Romani populations suggests that the Romani people are the descendants of the Jat people found in Northern India and Pakistan.
[[http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/146142.php Jatt mutation found in Romani populations]]
This contradicted an earlier study that compared the most common haplotypes found in Romani groups with those found in Jatt Sikhs and Jats from Haryana and found no matches. The haplogroup H, which is the most common haplogroup in Romanis is far more prevalent in central India and south India than it is in northern India, where haplogroup R1a lineages makes up at least half of male ancestries, and haplogroup H is rare.
Appearance in Europe
The migration of the Romanies through the Middle East and Northern Africa to Europe
First arrival of the Romanies outside Berne in the 15th century, described by the chronicler as ''getoufte heiden'' ("baptized heathens") and drawn with dark skin and wearing Saracen-style clothing and weapons (Spiezer Schilling, p. 749).
An 1852 Wallachian poster advertising an auction of Romani slaves in Bucharest.
In 1322 CE a Franciscan monk named Symon Semeonis described people resembling these "atsinganoi" living in Crete and in 1350 CE Ludolphus of Sudheim mentioned a similar people with a unique language whom he called ''Mandapolos'', a word which some theorize was possibly derived from the Greek word ''mantes'' (meaning prophet or fortune teller).
Around 1360, an independent Romani fiefdom (called the ''Feudum Acinganorum'') was established in Corfu and became "a settled community and an important and established part of the economy."
By the 14th century, the Romanies had reached the Balkans; by 1424 CE, Germany; and by the 16th century, Scotland and Sweden. Some Romanies migrated from Persia through North Africa, reaching the Iberian Peninsula in the 15th century. The two currents met in France. Romanies began immigrating to the United States in colonial times, with small groups in Virginia and French Louisiana.
Larger-scale immigration began in the 1860s, with groups of Romnichal from Britain. The largest number immigrated in the early 1900s, mainly from the Vlax group of Kalderash. Many Romanies also settled in South America.
When the Romani people arrived in Europe, curiosity was soon followed by hostility and xenophobia. Romanies were enslaved for five centuries in Wallachia and Moldavia until abolition in 1856. Elsewhere in Europe, they were subject to ethnic cleansing, abduction of their children, and forced labor. In England, there were hangings and expulsions of the Romani; in France, branding and the shaving of heads; in Moravia and Bohemia severing of ears of women. As a result, large groups of the Romani travelled back East, towards Poland, which was more tolerant, and Russia, where the Romani were also treated less heavy-handedly, as long as they paid the annual taxes.
Sinti and Roma about to be deported in Germany, May 22, 1940
World War II
During World War II, the Nazis embarked on systematic attempt at genocide of the Romanies, known as the ''Porajmos''.
[[http://www.radoc.net/radoc.php?doc=art_e_holocaust_porrajmos&lang=en&articles=true ROMANIES AND THE HOLOCAUST: A REEVALUATION AND AN OVERVIEW]] They were marked for extermination and sentenced to forced labor and imprisonment in concentration camps. They were often killed on sight, especially by the Einsatzgruppen (essentially mobile killing units) on the Eastern Front. The total number of victims has been variously estimated at between 220,000 to 1,500,000; even the lowest number would count as one of the largest mass murders in history.
In Communist Eastern Europe, Romanies experienced assimilation schemes and restrictions of cultural freedom. The Romani language and Romani music were banned from public performance in Bulgaria. In Czechoslovakia, they were labeled a "socially degraded stratum," and Romani women were sterilized as part of a state policy to reduce their population. This policy was implemented with large financial incentives, threats of denying future welfare payments, with misinformation, or after administering drugs (Silverman 1995; Helsinki Watch 1991). An official inquiry from the Czech Republic, resulting in a report (December 2005), concluded that the Communist authorities had practiced an assimilation policy towards Roma, which "included efforts by social services to control the birth rate in the Romani community" and that "the problem of sexual sterilization carried out in the Czech Republic, either with improper motivation or illegally, exists" with new revealed cases up until 2004, in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Society and culture
''A Gipsy Family'' - Facsimile of a woodcut in the "Cosmographie Universelle" of Munster: in folio, Basle, 1552.
The traditional Romanies place a high value on the extended family. Virginity is essential in unmarried women. Both men and women often marry young; there has been controversy in several countries over the Romani practice of child marriage. Romani law establishes that the man's family must pay a bride price to the bride's parents, but only traditional families still follow this rule.
Once married, the woman joins the husband's family, where her main job is to tend to her husband's and her children's needs, as well as to take care of her in-laws. The power structure in the traditional Romani household has at its top the oldest man or grandfather, and men in general have more authority than women. Women gain respect and authority as they get older. Young wives begin gaining authority once they have children.
Romani social behavior is strictly regulated by Hindu purity laws ("marime" or "marhime"), still respected by most Roma (and by most older generations of Sinti). This regulation affects many aspects of life, and is applied to actions, people and things: parts of the human body are considered impure: the genital organs (because they produce emissions), as well as the rest of the lower body. Fingernails and toenails must be filed with an emery board, as cutting them with a clipper is a taboo. Clothes for the lower body, as well as the clothes of menstruating women, are washed separately. Items used for eating are also washed in a different place. Childbirth is considered impure, and must occur outside the dwelling place. The mother is considered impure for forty days after giving birth. Death is considered impure, and affects the whole family of the dead, who remain impure for a period of time. In contrast to the practice of cremating the dead, Romani dead must be buried. Cremation and burial are both known from the time of the Rigveda, and both are widely practiced in Hinduism today (although the tendency for higher caste groups is to burn, while lower caste groups in South India tend to bury their dead). Some animals are also considered impure, for instance cats because they lick themselves.
Muslim Romanies in Bosnia and Herzegovina (around 1900)
Migrant Romani populations have adopted the dominant religion of their country of residence, while often preserving aspects of older belief systems and forms of worship. Most Eastern European Romanies are Roman Catholic or Orthodox Christian or Muslim. Those in western Europe and the United States are mostly Roman Catholic or Protestant. In Turkey, Egypt, and the Balkans, the Romanies are split into Christian and Muslim populations.
Romani music plays an important role in Eastern European countries such as Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Albania, Hungary, and Romania, and the style and performance practices of Romani musicians have influenced European classical composers such as Franz Liszt and Johannes Brahms. The ''lăutari'' who perform at traditional Romanian weddings are virtually all Roma. Probably the most internationally prominent contemporary performers in the ''lăutari'' tradition are Taraful Haiducilor. Bulgaria's popular "wedding music", too, is almost exclusively performed by Romani musicians such as Ivo Papasov, a virtuoso clarinetist closely associated with this genre and Bulgarian pop-folk singer Azis. Many famous classical musicians, such as the Hungarian pianist Georges Cziffra, are Roma, as are many prominent performers of manele. Zdob şi Zdub, one of the most prominent rock bands in Moldova, although not Romanies themselves, draw heavily on Romani music, as do Spitalul de Urgenţă in Romania, Goran Bregović in Serbia, Darko Rundek in Croatia, Beirut and Gogol Bordello in the United States.
Another tradition of Romani music is the genre of the Gypsy brass band, with such notable practitioners as Boban Marković of Serbia, and the brass ''lăutari'' groups Fanfare Ciocărlia and Fanfare din Cozmesti of Romania.
The distinctive sound of Romani music has also strongly influenced bolero, jazz, and flamenco (especially ''cante jondo'') in Europe. European-style Gypsy jazz ("jazz Manouche" or "Sinti jazz") is still widely practiced among the original creators (the Romanie People); one who acknowledged this artistic debt was guitarist Django Reinhardt. Contemporary artists in this tradition known internationally include Stochelo Rosenberg, Biréli Lagrène, Jimmy Rosenberg, and Tchavolo Schmitt.
The Romanies of Turkey have achieved musical acclaim from national and local audiences. Local performers usually perform for special holidays. Their music is usually performed on instruments such as the darbuka and gırnata. A number of nationwide best seller performers are said to be of Romani origin.
Most Romanies speak one of several dialects of Romani, an Indo-Aryan language. They also will often speak the languages of the countries they live in. Typically, they also incorporate loanwords and calques into Romani from the languages of those countries, especially words for terms that the Romani language does not have. Most of the ''Ciganos'' of Portugal, the Gitanos of Spain, the Romnichal of the UK, and Scandinavian Travellers have lost their knowledge of pure Romani, and respectively speak the mixed languages Caló, Angloromany, and Scandoromani.
There are independent groups currently working toward standardizing the language, including groups in Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, the USA, and Sweden. Romani is not currently spoken in India.
The first and one of the most enduring persecutions against the Romani people was the enslaving of the Romanies who arrived on the territory of the historical Romanian states of Wallachia and Moldavia, which lasted from the 14th century until the second half of the 19th century. Legislation decreed that all the Romanies living in these states, as well as any others who would immigrate there, were slaves.
The arrival of some branches of the Romani people in Western Europe in the 15th century was precipitated by the Ottoman conquest of the Balkans. Although the Romanies themselves were refugees from the conflicts in southeastern Europe, they were mistaken by the local population in the West, because of their foreign appearance, as part of the Ottoman invasion (the German Reichstags at Landau and Freiburg in 1496-1498 declared the Romanies as spies of the Turks). In Western Europe, this resulted in a violent history of persecution and attempts of ethnic cleansing until the modern era. As time passed, other accusations were added against local Romanies (accusations specific to this area, against non-assimilated minorities), like that of bringing the plague, usually sharing their burden together with the local Jews.
One example of official persecution of the Romani is exemplified by the ''The Great Roundup'' of Spanish Romanies (Gitanos) in 1749. The Spanish monarchy a country-wide raid that led to separation of families and placement of all able-bodied men into forced labor camps.
Later in the 19th century, Romani immigration was forbidden on a racial basis in areas outside Europe, mostly in the English speaking world (in 1885 the United States outlawed the entry of the Roma) and also in some South American countries (in 1880 Argentina adopted a similar policy).
Romani arrivals at the Belzec death camp await instructions.
The persecution of the Romanies reached a peak during World War II in the ''Porajmos'', the genocide perpetrated by the Nazis during the Holocaust. In 1935, the Nuremberg laws stripped the Romani people living in Nazi Germany of their citizenship, after which they were subjected to violence, imprisonment in concentration camps and later genocide in extermination camps. The policy was extended in areas occupied by the Nazis during the war, and it was also applied by their allies, notably the Independent State of Croatia, Romania and Hungary.
Because no accurate pre-war census figures exist for the Roma, it is impossible to accurately assess the actual number of victims. Ian Hancock, director of the Program of Romani Studies at The University of Texas at Austin, proposes a figure of up to a million and a half, while an estimate of between 220,000 and 500,000 was made by the late Sybil Milton, formerly senior historian of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. In Central Europe, the extermination in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was so thorough that the Bohemian Romani language became extinct.
In the Habsburg Monarchy under Maria Theresia (1740-1780), a series of decrees tried to force the Romanies to sedentarize, removed rights to horse and wagon ownership (1754), renamed them as "New Citizens" and forced Romani boys into military service if they had no trade (1761), forced them to register with the local authorities (1767), and prohibited marriage between Romanies (1773). Her successor Josef II prohibited the wearing of traditional Romani clothing and the use of the Romani language, punishable by flogging.
In Spain, attempts to assimilate the Gitanos were under way as early as 1619, when Gitanos were forcibly sedentarized, the use of the Romani language was prohibited, Gitano men and women were sent to separate workhouses and their children sent to orphanages. Similar prohibitions took place in later in 1783 under King Charles III, who prohibited the nomadic lifestyle, the use of the Calo language, Romani clothing, their trade in horses and other itinerant trades. Ultimately these measures failed, as the rest of the population rejected the integration of the Gitanos.
Other examples of forced assimilation include Norway, where a law was passed in 1896 permitting the state to remove children from their parents and place them in state institutions. This resulted in some 1,500 Romani children being taken from their parents in the 20th century.
Amnesty International reports continued instances of Antizigan discrimination during the 2000s, particularly in Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary,
Slovenia, and Kosovo. Romani are often confined to low-class ghettos, are subject to discrimination in jobs and schools, and are often subject to police brutality.
In Italy, the government recently declared that Italy's Romani population represented a national security risk and that swift action was required to address the ''emergenza nomadi'' (''gypsy emergency'') Specifically officials in the Italian government accused the Romanies of being responsible for rising crime rates in urban areas. Mario Marazziti, spokesperson of the Community of Sant'Egidio human rights organization said "There is no national emergency ... What is an emergency is that in the 21st century the life expectancy of a gypsy living in Italy is under 60 years of age."
Vincent van Gogh: ''The Caravans - Gypsy Camp near Arles'' (1888, Oil on canvas)
Many fictional depictions of the Romani in literature and art present Romanticized narratives of their supposed mystical powers of fortune telling, and their supposed irascible or passionate temper paired with an indomitable love of freedom and a habit of criminality.
Particularly notable are classics like ''Carmen'' by Prosper Mérimée and adapted by Georges Bizet, Victor Hugo's ''The Hunchback of Notre-Dame'' and Miguel de Cervantes' ''La Gitanilla''.
The Romani were also heavily romanticized in the Soviet Union, a classic example being the 1975 ''Tabor ukhodit v Nebo''.
A more realistic depiction of contemporary Romani in the Balkans, featuring Romani lay actors speaking in their native dialects, although still playing with established clichés of a Romani penchant for both magic and crime, was presented by Emir Kusturica in his ''Time of the Gypsies'' (1988) and ''Black Cat, White Cat'' (1998).
In contemporary literature
The Romani ethnicity is often used for characters in contemporary fantasy literature. In such literature, the Romani are often portrayed as possessing archaic occult knowledge passed down through the ages. This frequent use of the ethnicity has given rise to Gypsy archetypes in popular contemporary literature. One example of such a use is the character Jilly Coppercorn in the seminal urban fantasy novel ''Dreams Under Foot'' by Charles de Lint.
Image:gypsy3v2.jpg|[http://letsgotoromania.com/Main/Gypsies/Gypsies.htm Romanian Gypsies]
Image:gypsy2v2.jpg|[http://letsgotoromania.com/Main/Gypsies/Gypsies.htm Romanian Gypsy in Constanta]
Image:Gypsy4v2.jpg|[http://letsgotoromania.com/Main/Gypsies/Gypsies.htm Romanian Gypsies]
Image:bringing-home-the-hay.jpg|[http://letsgotoromania.com/Main/Gypsies/Gypsies.htm Romanian Gypsy]
Image:Happily_married.jpg|[http://letsgotoromania.com/Main/Gypsies/Gypsies.htm Gypsy Wedding]
Image:Gypsy_Sheperds.jpg|[http://letsgotoromania.com/Main/Shepherd/Shepherd.htm Gypsy Shepherds]