ROMANI PEOPLE

 

Romani people trace their origins to medieval India.  Romani - an adjective to define the entire ethnic group – is the official term used by organizations such as the United Nations.  The misnomer gypsy in English, gitano in Spanish or gitan in France, has come to refer to lifestyle or fashion issues echoing traditions of Romani people.

Roma were believed to have originated in Rajasthan before migrating to the Punjab in 250 B.C. and moving west in waves between 500 and 1000 AD.  In the 14th century they reached the Balkans and by the 16th century, Scotland and Sweden.  Many came to the United States in colonial times however the largest group arrived in the early 1900s.  Many Roma settled in South America.

Historically, they travelled as nomadic labourers doing the work of  blacksmiths, tinkers, leather workers, grooms and horse traders, bear and snake charmers, wine harvesters, basket weavers or most famously – musicians.  Medieval guilds did not like intrusions from the Roma, so when a job market they provided became saturated, they were encouraged to move on.  

 

 


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