Table of Contents


About Time of the Gypsies, Emir Kusturica said in 1989 : Why the gypsies ? The only reason is that I was shocked by the fact that one could sell children. Emir Kusturica said also he had been marked by two films : ”I even met happy gypsies” of Petrović, and ”Guardian Angel” of Goran Paskaljević. This last film being even quoted by Ahmed, when returning with Pehran to Italy.

How to define these people too badly known ?

How should they be named ?

  • Manouches. Familiar name of wandering gypsy (etymology : manouch : ”man”).
  • Romanichels or roms, from Roumanian, Romania. But this same term, ”Romania”, was given to this province under the Roman Empire, because it was one of the most fertile, and its grounds were given in rewards to the best Generals of the empire. Today, moreover, Romanian is a language very close to Latin, but also to the Catalan.
  • Tzigane (French). Complicated term, of wandering etymology. Athnganos : ”which does not touch” (sect of Manicheans coming from Phrygia) gave Atsinganos, in Greek Byzantine, then by pronunciation of the last : Czigany (in Hungarian), then Tzigeuner (in German), Cigain (XVth century), Tchingueniennes (about 1664) and Gypsy (1843). The exact definition : Tziganes, name of a people (which are even called “Rom”) coming from India, initially appeared in Greece and Eastern Europe by the end of XIIIth and in XVth century in Western Europe, which carry out an existence of nomads exerting various small trades.
  • Travelling entertainers. Politically correct name, mostly for Circus people, and which better illustrates this wandering people which cross the borders, without territorial root, stateless, and which maintained in spite of ten centuries of pressures and persecutions, a cultural and linguistic corpus, and especially a way of life.
  • Gypsy. According to the Hachette dictionary : Bohemian, bohemian of Spain. By extension, any bohemian.
  • Bohemian. Member of wandering tribes which are believed to be originating from Bohemia (area located in current Czech Republic).

Even the term “flamenco”, which is a Spanish music played by Catalan gypsies, comes from “Flemish”, and is once again related to voyages, exchanges between Spain and the Netherlands at the XVIIth century.

In short, it is difficult to define them precisely : in these various definitions, we quoted India, Greece, Romania, Spain, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany, France… This ambiguity is part of their soul, because freedom to travel is paid by a relentless segregation which led to the Nazi genecide and the Croatian death camps of Oustachis where Serbs, Gypsies and Jews were the principal victims.


The flag, representing a red wheel of car (with a sixteen branches chakra to point out the Indian origins) on a green (symbolizing the ground) and blue (symbolizing the sky) background, was approved by the First Rom Congress at 1971 London meeting. During this congress, where representatives of plenty of countries were present, (including India), was also chosen the song dzelem dzelem as anthem.



Burry me standing Enterrez-moi debout, l'odyssée des Gitans_FR, by Isabel Fonseca
This book is a true delight, and the reader dives into a million of images, anecdotes, and stories, each one more powerful, surprising, poetic or sad than the other one…

en/gypsies.txt · Last modified: 2008/02/13 13:29 by matthieu1