Many people have not heard the word Roma.
Roma is what Gypsies call themselves. Rom is singular, Roma
is plural. I never had a very academic relationship with Roma,
so I’m not an authority on their history or language.
I know them as friends and travel companions.
Over the years I did pick up a lot of knowledge,
though, the main point of info being that they trace their
roots back to India around the 10th or 12th Century. I didn’t
need anybody to tell me that, however. I’ve been to
India, and it is abundantly clear to me that they originate
from there. I can see it in their body language, in their
taste of clothes, in the way they tilt their heads. I can’t
prove it with linguistics or historical facts. I just know
it in my heart.
This means that the Rom way is not a lifestyle,
but a race. If your parents were Roma then you are Rom. You can have a Gypsy traveling lifestyle,
like for example the Berbers of Sahara or the New Age Travelers
of England, but that does not make you Rom. You can be a Manhattan
doctor who dresses in suits, goes to the opera, and never
leaves your town and be a Rom. It’s a bit like being
Jewish. You don’t need to be religious to be jewish,
you just need to have Jewish parents.
Having said this, there is a Rom culture that ties all the
Roma of the world together. They have a unified language that
can be traced back to India that, depending on where you are,
ranges from being completely forgotten to being the language
they still speak at home. And many traditions are inherently
Rom, some of which do relate to the stereotypical Gypsy culture.
The struggle I often saw was the attempt to keep their culture
yet rid it of the negative stereotyping the Gadge (non-Roma)
project onto it.
Another important point for me is that Roma
were enslaved for several centuries around the late 14th Century
shortly after they arrived in Europe. This was a precursor
to the Nazi Holocaust where they also suffered greatly, yet
their tragedy remained almost unnoticed in comparison to the
numbers they lost. They have a history of being scapegoats,
always on the outside of society. And from what I can see
they are given very little reason to want to try and integrate.
They tread a fine line now between integrating into society
where they can get respect and recognition but also where
their culture risks becoming diluted and possibly overwhelmed
by the mainstream.
Unfortunately, my photos don’t show
much of the politics of what I’m discussing here. I’m
not interested in the politics of pointing out what’s
wrong, though. It is an important job, and some have a calling
for it, but it depresses me. I am more interested in the goodness
of humanity, in the politics of pointing out what is right.
It’s a political statement, in it’s own way, I
guess. Do a Google search
to learn more about the politics, culture and history of Roma,
and look at my photos
to learn more about the goodness of humanity, regardless of
who they are. In this case they just happen to be Roma.
Below is an interesting compilation showing
the various breakdown of groups:
Gypsy and Traveler Group Names
Text and Research By Emperor Frederick
This Text Chart is the result of over thirty
years of collection. The design is to be used a guide and
it is listed in an outline form.
First, the distinction between Gypsy and
Traveler, as stated and defined by the Gypsy Congress of 1972
and the United Nations Charter concerning Traveling Peoples.
The term Gypsy, as defined here, are traveling peoples that
have their origins from the Punjabi Region of India and migrated
out of that area. Travelers are traveling peoples that have
their origins from the Caucus Mountain and Volga River areas,
but also is inclusive of Celtic and Gaelic Nomads, Pacific
Sea Gypsy, and some North African Traveling Groups including
B. Lomarvren (Lom)
C. Romany (Rom)
1. Lorvari (Lowara)
2) Crossover Groups
(These groups are usually considered Gypsy or but sometimes
F. Calo (Gitanoes)
L. Kiwi (New Zealand and
3. Furiia or Furiian
e. Fyr (from the Saxon word for Militia)
f. Aumma or Amman
i. Klitau or klitov
4. Sometimes Sinti
B. Celtic groups
1. Irish Traveler
2. Scottish Traveler
3. Welsh Traveler (Sometimes Romanichel)
C. North African
1. Berbers and Moroccan Nomads.(Although
a distinct Ethnic group of their own, they are also considered
D. Pacific Ocean groups
1. Pacific Ocean (Philippine) Sea Gypsy
2. Indonesia Sea Gypsy (subgroup)
This is still a collection in progress but
I feel it is almost complete with the exceptions of breakdowns
of certain Gaelic and Individual tribes.