ROMA CULTURE

ROMA CULTURE: AN INTRODUCTION

The Roma usually identify themselves and one another based on the external features of language, appearance (in particular women’s dress), and occupations (in particular men’s occupations). Internal features such as customs, practices and attitudes constitute additional identifying characteristics but are more likely to vary among different groups. Some aspects of language, dress, and occupation may also vary. When discussing a population as dispersed as the Roma, it is therefore essential to consider internal diversity as well as similarities. Not all Roma populations use the word Roma to designate their ethnic group, but this word usually appears in some derivation or other either in the name of the language spoken by the group (romanes, romaneh, roman, romacilikanes, etc.), or in the terms used within the group to denote ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ (rom and romni). In this way, we can define the boundaries of the population that one might refer to collectively as Roma or Romani.  more info...

ROMA CULTURE

The ethnic culture of the Roma living in the countries of central, eastern and south-eastern Europe (also found as migrants in western Europe) has formed and developed through a long and complex process of continuous active interaction with the culture of their surrounding population. Due to the internal heterogeneity of the Romani communities and the fact that they live scattered among the surrounding population in different countries and in different cultural and historic regions, the result is the presence of many diverse subvariants of the invariant Romani culture. This shall, however, not affect the overall conclusion about Romani culture, which constitutes a separate ethnic variation of European culture. It is equal to those of all other European nations, and as such is just as unique and special as any of them. more info...

A CONTEMPORARY PICTURE OF ROMANI COMMUNITIES IN EASTERN EUROPA

Every nation around the world preserves its ethnographic and dialectal diversity as a valuable cultural heritage. This diversity is greater among the Roma due to historical events, the lack of a common territory, the dispersal of their communities in many different countries, life in different cultural environments, group endogamy, etc. At the same time, this diversity is better preserved than in other European nations, yet it is still insufficiently known and appreciated. The contemporary mosaic of Roma communities forms a significant part of the World Cultural Heritage of Mankind. more info...

ROMA MUSLIMS IN THE BALKANS

For centuries numerous Roma communities have lived in the Balkans. Their members are referred to as “Turkish Gypsies” (турски цигани, τουρκο-γύφτοι, ţigani turci and other, similar names) by the surrounding population. In many cases the Gypsies themselves use the same appellation. These Roma are Muslims and in most cases entirely, or at least partially, Turkish-speaking. Many of them also speak Romani or have spoken it in the past. In some cases, the latter is preserved only by the older generations; in other cases, a mixture of Turkish and Romani is still in use. They are neither a unified nor a homogeneous community. The existing country borders divide the Muslim Roma communities. Additionally, they are further differentiated into more or less detached communities according to various parameters (including endogamy). more info...

THE ROMA COURT IN CENTRAL, EASTERN AND SOUTH – EASTERN EUROPE

The presence of inter-group self-government, carried out by a specific institution still continues to be, as in the past, a main characteristic feature in the lives of many (but by far not all) Roma groups in central, eastern and south-eastern Europe. This specific institution appears in a number of rather varied Roma groups who live in these vast territories. It clearly displays their ethnic specificity and defines and distinguishes the separate sub-structures of the Roma ethnic community, since the presence or absence of a similar institution and its form and functions define to a great extent the very character of the Roma group (the main structural unit of the Romani community). more info...

THE GABOR IN TRANSYLVANIA/ROMANIA

The Gábor belong to the wide spectrum of Romani-speaking ethnic groups in Transylvania. Beyond
their home region around the city of Tîrgu Mureş (Hungarian: Marosvásárhely) they have been economically embedded and recognised as craftsmen and tradesmen for many generations. Over time they have developed their own specific Roma culture. While this entails the passing down of traditional characteristics from one generation to the next, external factors – such as the current influence of neo-protestant missions – bring visible changes to this culture. more info...

VALAXIKA ROMA/ OLASI

The Vlaxika or Olaši represent the Vlax group within Bohemia and Slovakia. Generally they
have preserved a lot of older Roma traditions and until recently have been itinerant. The prototype profession is trading and peddling, in the past also with horses. The sexual roles are clearly defined and strictly separated. The internal rules of the community are regulated by the society as a whole and by a self-governmental body, kris. Family ceremonies are very formalised and solemn, as is speech in unusual situations. The culture is self-reliant, covering all aspects of life down to dressing, singing and naming. more info...

Editing: Romani Project Graz| translations: Ulla& Henry Briscoe| layout and design: Marcus Wiesner| coordination: Romani Project at the University of Graz in close cooperations with the Council of Europe project Education of Roma Children in Europe.
Copyright is held by the Council of Europe