Friday, July 9, 2010

Romani


Long fascinated with Romani history and culture, I was delighted to find some old photographs of Romani in the Spanish Basque Country wearing berets (whereas most Romani stick to rimmed hats). 
There were a number of Romani tribes in the Basque Country and some still exist as ethnic groups. These were grouped together under the generic terms ijitiok (Egyptians) and buhameak (Bohemians) by Basque speakers.
Kalderash in the Basque Country, date unknown
  • The Agotes (also known as Cagots) also were found north and south of the mountains. They lived as untouchables in Basque villages and were allowed to marry only among themselves. Their origin is unclear and has historically been surrounded with superstitions. Nowadays, they have mostly assimilated into the general society.
Three generations of Basque Romani in Bajo Bidasoa, 1918
  • The Cascarots were a Roma subgroup found mainly in the Northern Basque Country.
  • A subgroup of Kalderash Roma resident in the Basque Country were the Erromintxela who are notable for speaking a rare mixed language. This is based on Basque grammar but using Romani-derived vocabulary.
  • The Mercheros were Quinqui-speakers, travelling as cattle merchants and artisans. Following the industrialization, they settled in slums near big cities.

7 comments:

  1. So many Basque Romani can be found in Kentucky (USA) throughout the 1800s. There are 1000s of photos just like the one in Bajo Bidasoa. It is unfortunate that so few Americans understand what they are seeing when they look at their old family photos!

    KentuckyKale

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    1. Hi Kentucky Kale,
      Thanks for your comment. I would love to learn more; could you drop me a line by email?
      Thanks and regards,
      Daan

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    2. KY Kale, I'd love to know more. I'm researching my own KY Romani.
      KYRomaine

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  2. I haven't forgotten. I will get you some info soon. I have been sending some people to this blog. There is so little information on the Basque families. In America everyone who came from France (in the early years) is labeled a Huguenot.

    KentuckyKale

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  3. Thanks for putting up this information. I would like my class to do a little reading on the Cagots and I think this could be very useful.

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  4. The origins of the Romani (Gitanos in Spain or Ciganos in Portugal) are from India. This is a fact, so that narrows the search a little more.

    Obviously, the Romani are also concentrated in Romania; hence the name Romani.

    Cheers

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    1. The name ROMANI has absolutely NOTHING to do with Romania. It comes from the Sanskrit word Rama, "one who roams about."

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