by Chuck Todaro
A Gypsy woman of the forest standing out by the well told the story of her run in with a Roma woman dressed in the authentic gypsy costume with long braided hair hanging out the back end of a flowery headscarf. The Forest Gypsy was dark and the Roma, mistaking her for one of her own began speaking to her in the “secret language”. It terrified the woman and she ran away.
Roma speak of the “Khashtalo” with a chuckle in their voice. The Romani term literally means “woodworker”, a reference to their traditional occupations in the forest, though in the context of the tribes, takes on a derogatory connotation as dirty and foolish - someone English speakers heckle a “bum”.....
Tzigania Project is sadly no longer able to freely offer our exclusive research online due to plagiarism and other unconsented usage of our material.
Explaining the origins of the Khashtalo’s requires a trip back in time, way back to the 11th century, to the time of Islamic raids of the Indian sub-continent. Indian society of those days was divided into a caste system that was then further divided into tribes defined by a trade; they called these groups jatis: they were brick-makers, musicians, basket-makers, rat catchers, etc. These trades religiously passed from father to son, generation after generation (you were born a basket-maker and .....
The Prince’s authority and the Church - a special relationshipEver since the Tatar horde began storming into Christendom from the east followed by the Ottoman threat from the south, the earthly powers of the prince formed an alliance with the spiritual might of the church. It was a raging holy war of which the prince was threatened by both loss of power and life (the victors first order of business was the king’s head on a platter) while the church’s existence was also at stake by an Islamic overthrow. An alliance was formed with the princely court organizing the military measures, while the church, with its vast extension of clergymen and monasteries spreading the countryside went about handling the domestic issues of education, hospitals and the valuable communications, including the propaganda that stirred the people to act.....
Three states of the Khashtali Nation
The Khastalii nation are subdivided into three regional groups… In southern Romania, known in those times as Wallachia, the monastery slaves were put to the mines.....
The effects of the church on the monastery slaves was powerful
While the owners of the state and plantation slaves were primarily interested in productivity, the monks and nuns at the monasteries were conflicted with the added conscience of saving souls. Religion was their business and with that came the required “curing” the Gypsies of their heathen ways. Monastery slaves went through the immediate process of being exorcized of their demon Gypsy culture and in this void formed a new Gypsy - the Khashtali was born
When emancipation finally arrived after 500 years enslavement it was hugely celebrated like at Piatra Neamt city where Gypsies danced around the statue of Romania’s own Abe Lincoln, Prime Minister Mihail Kogalniceanu. Emancipation meant freedom, yet for the poor Khashtali, freedom turned their stable existence upside down from bad to worse.
It was Mid-19th century – the Ottoman authority was out, so was the old fashion rule of the prince; a new democracy filled the gap. The old time partnership between church and state was dissolved and....
The Gypsy Revolution
The Romanian Revolution of 1989 was one of those moments in history that will live on in infamy. Those ten bloody days of street fighting not only changed the nation’s political order, but also its entire economic and social system. It can’t be said that Gypsies didn’t take part in the liberation; they are found amongst the list of martyrs, nevertheless, Gypsies generally keep out of gadjo politics. Since their arrival into Europe they have seen empires rise and fall, monarchies, dictatorships and democracies come and go and yet through it all their social status has remained out along the perimeters of society. The Gypsies prefer taking a wait and see attitude, holding out till the dust has cleared, see then which ruler remains standing and pledge their allegiance.....
By Chuck Todaro
(*1) …. P 108 . Romani Lives and the Power of Music in Greek Macedonia, Bright Balkan Morning
By Charles and Agenliki Vellou Keil