Roma people in Turkey

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Turkish musicians 3

The Xoraxane Roma in Turkey have been officially named since the 1990s in Turkish as Romanlar (singular Roman, male Rom, female Romliye), but many other Turkish designations like Çingene (Gypsy), Esmer Vatandaş, and Kıpti are also in use.[1] However, some use Çingene or the names used by the people, Manuş (Human) and Şopar (Gypsy kid), for themselves in Eastern Thrace.[2] In the English language, they are called "Turkish Gypsy". The word Gypsy is not pejorative for them.[3] There are a number of subgroups, all of which named after their old professional jobs, but Xoraxane is also used. Their religion is Sunni Muslim of the Hanafi school, and some are members of a Sufi Tarika.[4] An engagement, marriage, and circumcision of boys (Sünnet parties,[5] are major festivals for them.

The Roma people in Turkey speak Turkish as their first language. Most no longer speak the Romani anymore, and many hide their Romani background, designate themselves as only Turks, and do not want to be call as Roma.[6] Most live in East Thrace, which is called Gypsy County' (Şoparistan), and in cities like Istanbul, Edirne, and Izmir. They have Turkish citizenship and adopted the Turkish culture and the Romanipen, a special Romani moral code of the Christian Roma in Europe. The Romanlar from Turkey distance themselves from all other Roma groups from Europe, whether Christian or Muslim.[7]

The Romanlar are closer to Turks than any Roma group in Europe. They have only a lesser similarity to the Turkish-speaking Xoraxane Roma from Bulgaria, Romani (Dobruja), and Greece (West Thrace). They also have no minority status and not want to be called a minority. Some of the Turkish Romani came as guest workers to Germany and Austria in the 1960 and the 1970. None of them was looked as Roma by the host population, only as Turks in Germany or Austria,[8] and some of the Turkish-Romani men married with German or Austrian women. The offsprings of those marriages is called Melezi (half-blood), a Turkish loanword in the dialects of the Romani language of the Muslim Roma for people with mixed Romani blood.[9]

In Turkey, the Romanlar have all kind of low jobs but some are also flower-sellers, basket-makers, etc.[10]

History[change | change source]

Records of Persian poets and historians in the Shahnameh state that Persian King Bahram V of the Sassanid Empire brought several thousand musicians from India to Persia, from where their descendants have since migrated to different countries.[11] According Ottoman and Turkish historians and linguists, the Romanlar in Turkey have mixed ancestry. The so-called Chingan (musicans-dancers) once came from Hindustan by the trading relationships at the Silk Road with the Byzantine Empire from the Indian subcontinent,[12] into Egypt, which was then in the Byzantine Empire.[13] They settled in Koptos (Qift), at the Nile, for a while.[14] Later, when the Muslim Arabs fought the Byzantines, the Romanlar went with them as camp followers to Asia Minor and settled first in Phrygia[15] and from there, they went to Thrace, in Greece, in 800 AD. The Greeks called them Atsingani.[16][17] The oldest sedentary settlment of Romanlar was in Sulukule, in Constantinople, and dates back to 1054 AD.[18] The Byzantine historian Nikephoros Gregoras told of acrobats who had come from Egypt to Constantinople in 1322.[19] The Ottoman historian Evliya Çelebi described in his Book Seyhatnâme the language and the background of the Roma people, Who were after the Fall of Constantinople in 1453 allowed by Sultan Mehmed II to settle from Gümülcine and Muslim Roma's from Bayat Village, Aydın Province, and from the Sanjak of Menteşe to Istanbul as dancers and musicians.[20][21] During Ottoman Empire they got their own Sanjak (District) of Eastern Thrace in 1530 by the order of Suleiman the Magnificent.[22] Turkish-speaking Muslim Roma also settled from Anatolia to the Balkans during the Ottoman Empire. In Bulgaria, Greece (Western Thrace), and Romania (Dobruja),[23] is a Turkish-speaking Muslim Roma minority.[24] Many Romanlar live in Istanbul, Edirne, and İzmir.[25]

Genetic studies show that Turkish Gypsies are similar to Jats and Punjabis from Punjab (Pakistan),[26] and ene flow from Turks and people fromage Southeastern Europe like Slavs, Greeks, and Albanians into the Turkish Gypsiess happend by the Ottoman conquest of the Balkans.[27] Also, people from Caucasus Mountains like the Kubachi people[28] brought their gènes.

Paspati's Book of the Turkish Gypsies, from 1860 to 1863, mentioned that Ottoman Turkish men often married Gypsy woman, and arround 200,000 Muslim Roma live in Turkey.[29] Under the reign of Abdulhamid II, their status changed, and they were called the Buçuk Millet.[30]

During the Greek War of Independence (1821–1829), the Crimean War (1854–1856), the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878), the Balkan Wars (1912-1913), World War I (1914-1918), and the Treaty of Lausanne in (1923), many Turkish-speaking Xoraxane-Roma and other non-Romani Muslims were expelled from Bulgaria and Greece and other parts of the Balkans once belonging to the former Ottoman Empire, and they settled into Turkey.[31][32][33]

After the end of serfdom and slavery in Moldova in 1855 and Wallachia in 1856, Orthodox Christian Roma went to Constantinople. Called the Laxo Roma, they speak the Vlax Romani language.[34] In 1923, most Laxo went to Greece.[35]

Culture[change | change source]

Music and dance[change | change source]

The Romanlar in Turkey are famous for their music and dance and play for weddings, sünnet parties, and the kirkpinar festival (oil wrestling), often for non-Romani.[36] The belly dance is performed in their own special style.[37]

Kakava[change | change source]

Kakava is the name of the celebration of their own male saint, Baba Fingo.[38] Held every year on 5-6 May in Edirne, it is an old folk belief of the Romanlar.[39],[40]

Sufism[change | change source]

Many Romanlar in Turkey belong to the Sufi Hindiler Tekkesi of the Qadiri-Tarika. It was founded in 1738 by Sheykh Seyfullah Efendi El Hindi in Selamsız, a Romani quarter in Üsküdar, Istanbul.[41] He was originally a Muslim from Hindustan. Old Romanlar Muslims believe that Baba Fingo is present.[42]

References[change | change source]

  2. "ROMA". Archived from the original on 2022-10-07. Retrieved 2022-10-07.
  3. "CINGENEYIZ ENGLISH: I am a Gypsy".
  4. "Sepečides / Sevlengere Roma".
  5. "From Boy to Man – the Turkish Circumcision Ritual".
  6. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2021-12-02. Retrieved 2022-01-20.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. Özateşler, Gül (2014). "Gypsies in the economy of Turkey: A focus on Gypsy flower sellers in two central districts of İstanbul". New Perspectives on Turkey. 51: 123. doi:10.1017/S0896634600006749. S2CID 148240895.
  11. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2022-10-02. Retrieved 2022-10-02.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. Dokras, Dr Uday (January 2020). "South Indian Traders of the ancient world". Inac.
  13. Salomon, Richard (1991). "Epigraphic Remains of Indian Traders in Egypt". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 111 (4): 731–736. doi:10.2307/603404. JSTOR 603404.
  14. Pankhurst, Richard (1974). "The "Banyan" or Indian Presence at Massawa, the Dahlak Islands and the Horn of Africa". Journal of Ethiopian Studies. 12 (1): 185–212. JSTOR 44324706.
  15. "Bıçak sırtında yaşayan bir halk". 22 September 2010. Archived from the original on 1 July 2022. Retrieved 6 May 2022.
  16. "Atsinganos (Die Unberührbaren)".
  18. "Istanbul's Roma face upheaval". 10 October 2007.
  20. Kuş, Ayşegül (February 2020). "Under the Light of the Population Register Dated 1857 an Evaluation upon the Socio-Economic Lives of the Gypsy Living in İstanbul". Selçuk Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Dergisi (43): 49–61.
  22. Altinoz, Ismail. "Gypsies in the Ottoman Society".
  25. "The Perception of Gypsies in Turkish Society".
  27. Bánfai, Zsolt; Melegh, Béla I.; Sümegi, Katalin; Hadzsiev, Kinga; Miseta, Attila; Kásler, Miklós; Melegh, Béla (13 June 2019). "Revealing the Genetic Impact of the Ottoman Occupation on Ethnic Groups of East-Central Europe and on the Roma Population of the Area". Frontiers in Genetics. 10: 558. doi:10.3389/fgene.2019.00558. PMC 6585392. PMID 31263480.
  28. Bánfai, Z.; Ádám, V.; Pöstyéni, E.; Büki, G.; Czakó, M.; Miseta, A.; Melegh, B. (2018). "Revealing the impact of the Caucasus region on the genetic legacy of Romani people from genome-wide data". PLOS ONE. 13 (9): e0202890. Bibcode:2018PLoSO..1302890B. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0202890. PMC 6130880. PMID 30199533.
  29. Paspati, A. G.; Hamlin, C. (1860). "Memoir on the Language of the Gypsies, as Now Used in the Turkish Empire". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 7: 143–270. doi:10.2307/592158. JSTOR 592158.
  32. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2021-12-02. Retrieved 2022-01-20.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  33. "Expulsion and Emigration of the Muslims from the Balkans".
  37. "Romani dance and music in Turkey | Romani Cultural & Arts Company".
  38. "Roma culture comes alive with celebration of Baba Fingo". Daily Sabah. 4 May 2018.
  39. "Thousands flock to Turkey's Edirne for Roma festival Kakava". Daily Sabah. 6 May 2022.
  40. "Hıdırellez and Kakava: A time of setting intentions". Daily Sabah. 4 May 2022.