Gypsies

The word 'gypsy' in the English language comes from the word 'Egyptians' which is what the British called the people of the Romani when they arrived in Europe and Britain in the 1400's to 1500's AD It was thought that they had come from Egypt.  In actuality the Romani had left India over one thousand years ago.  No one knows for certain why the original Roma began their great wandering from India to Europe and beyond, but they have dispersed worldwide, despite persecution and oppression through the centuries. 'Romani' in the tongue of the Rom means 'a man of our own race', and the Romani were (and still are) very independent. They did not mix or assimilate into European society and clung to their migratory mode of existence long after the other Europeans lived in settled communities.

Treated with suspicion, hostility and hatred by the townspeople, the Rom moved from place to place in "kumpania" or family units, sometimes called 'hordes'. Vividly painted and decorated gypsy caravans and wagons would have been a common site moving along country roads. Although the "gaje" - a gypsy word for anyone who was not a Rom - treated them as if they were all the same, Rom society was complex and tribal. There were four main 'hordes' or tribes; the Lowara, the Tshurara, the Kalderasha and the Matchvaya, which did not always see eye to eye with each other, and would often fight if they met on the road. Other groups include the Romanichal, the Gitanoes (Calé), the Sinti, the Rudari, the Manush, the Boyash, the Ungaritza, the Luri, the Bashaldé, the Romungro, and the Xoraxai. The first European descriptions of the Roma upon their entering Europe emphasized their dark skin and black hair. Through integration with Europeans over the centuries, Roma today can also be found with light skin and hair.

The Romani language, which is a derivative of Sanskrit, was common to all tribes and all countries in which they lived. As recently as 1970 an English gypsy was taken to Europe and was able to communicate with similar gypsy people in countries different as Spain and Czechoslovakia.

Romani culture is diverse and there is no universal culture per se, but there are attributes common to all Roma: loyalty to family (extended and clan); belief in Del (God) and beng (the Devil); belief in predestiny; Romaniya, standards and norms, varying in degree from tribe to tribe; and adaptability to changing conditions. Integration of many Roma into gajikané (non-Roma, or foreign) culture due to settlement has diluted many Romani cultural values and beliefs. Not all tribes have the same definition of who and what is "Roma." What may be accepted as "true-Roma" by one group may be gadjé to another. Romani culture is diverse, with many traditions and customs, and all tribes around the world have their own individual beliefs and tenets. It would be invalid to generalize and oversimplify by giving concrete rules to all Roma. Despite what some groups may believe, there is no one tribe that can call themselves the one, "true" Roma.

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Credit: Patrin
I am not an expert on the Romani culture, but if you would like more information, please visit Patrin