© Ronald Lee, October 1998, all rights reserved
The language spoken by the Roma is called Romani. It is closely related to the Sanskrit from which all modern Indo-Aryan languages are derived. Romani developed in parallel to its sister languages still spoken in India until the 11th century AD. Then the ancestors of the Roma left India and Romani was influenced in its development by languages spoken elsewhere. These were Persian, Armenian, Byzantine Greek, Old Slavic and Rumanian. The same words from these languages can be found today in all dialects of Romani. This shows that the Roma travelled together as one group until they reached Rumania in the 14th century.
Continue reading “The Romani Language” – Ronald Lee
© Ronald Lee, June 2009 all rights reserved
Until this century, Roma were basically an illiterate people. Except for a small number of individuals, most Roma and Sinti in the many countries where they lived were unable to read and write. Some did learn basic reading and writing skills but contributed next to nothing in the way of literature about Roma by Roma except for a mere handful of individuals,. In the latter 19th century and especially after The First World War, a small Romani intelligentsia appeared in some of the countries of Eastern Europe and newspapers were published in Romani. In the former Soviet Union, under Communism, there was an attempt to integrate Roma into the educational system and a considerable but unknown number of Roma were educated. Others, living in the villages and the hinterlands remained illiterate. Mass education among Roma really dates from the end of the Second World War with the Communist governments in the former Soviet Bloc Countries.
Continue reading “Roma and Education” – Ronald Lee
©Ronald Lee, 2002, all rights reserved
While there are many Black Virgins and Black Madonnas in the Christian countries of the Mediterranean and elsewhere, the black statue worshipped by the Roma. at Les Saintes Maries de la Mer in the Camargue in the South of France stands out as something of an enigma. The actual origin of this statue is lost in antiquity and there is no doubt that a Black Goddess must have existed there long before Christianity. According to some authorities the village now known as Les Saintes Maries de la Mer was originally known as Ratis, which means raft in Latin, and later, the church itself , which is shaped like a boat, and dates back at least to the 12th century, was for some time known as Notre Dame de Ratis (Our Lady of the Raft). There is also evidence that in the first century AD, Artemis, Cybele, Isis and the Celtic Triple Goddess, Matres had temples there (1).
Continue reading “The Romani Goddess Kali Sara” – Ronald Lee
© Ronald Lee, 2003, all rights reserved
Much has been written about Flamenco music and what contribution the Roma have made to its development and continuity. In the past, many authorities whose knowledge of Romani history and that of Spain was peripheral have stated that Flamenco is a mixture of various elements, Spanish, Moorish, Jewish and Romani and that Flamenco evolved through a mixing of these musical traditions over a long period of time. When examined in the light of recorded history, this theory seems to be total mythology as far as the Roma are concerned.
Continue reading “Roma and Flamenco: Myth and Reality” – Ronald Lee
©Ronald Lee, 2002, all rights reserved. Published in Terre Sospese – Suspended Worlds: A Photo Essay of Romani Refugee Camps in Italy. Stefano Montesi. Prospettiva Edizioni Srl. Rome. 2002.
The North-American Vlach-Roma believe there is a place between earth and Heaven, called Kalisferia in Romani, where the souls of unbaptised children, suicide victims and those who have committed crimes against God are condemned to exist in limbo. This is a dismal, fearful region of total darkness inhabited by fearsome creatures that torment those condemned to live there until they receive Grace from God to enter Raiyo, the Romani concept of Heaven. When I entered Camp Casilino 900, a Romani-refugee shanty town of shacks and trailers close to Rome, I found Kalisferia on earth!
Continue reading “Roma ande Kalisferia – Roma in Limbo” – Ronald Lee
©Ronald Lee, 2009, all rights reserved
“Until lions have historians,
Stories of the hunt
Shall always glorify the hunters.’’
— African proverb
The Mystery People and the Pseudo-Egyptians
For almost five-hundred years after we Romani people appeared in Europe in the late 14th and early 15th centuries, Europeans were asking where we had come from. By then, we ourselves had forgotten our origins in North-Central India although in 1422 some Romani newcomers did tell Italians in Forli, Italy, who asked them where they had come from, that their original homeland was in India. (Muratori, 1731, Vol X1X: 890) This remained buried in the archives until recently (Informaciako Lil 7-9, 1992). Our Indian origin only started to become known in the latter 18th century among a select group of scholars such as pioneer Heinrich Grellman.
Continue reading “A New Look at Our Romani Origins and Diaspora” by Ronald Lee