Roma-Gypsy Presence in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, 15th-18th Centuries

Roma-Gypsy Presence in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, 15th-18th Centuries

Roma-Gypsy Presence in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, 15th-18th Centuries

Roma-Gypsy Presence in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, 15th-18th Centuries

Synopsis

"The book is devoted to the history of Roma-Gypsies on the territory of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 15th-18th centuries. The argument is based on a thorough analysis of a number of original and previously unpublished documents that are included in the second part of the book. It verifies some clichéd views concerning the social status of Romani people in Eastern Europe, especially concerning their relationships with the state authorities. Through a careful interpretation and reinterpretation of documents pertaining to the Roma history, this work contributes towards re-evaluation of self-definition of Romani people in contemporary Europe. It also aims at providing material for Romani educational resources"--Provided by publisher.

Excerpt

For hundreds of years, the Gypsies have attracted the attention of chroniclers, writers and artists. in particular, the Romantic period in literature and music gave birth to a wide range of works in which Gypsies figured prominently. Their wandering habit of life, and their mere existence seemingly unbound by the laws defining the behavior and life of an average settled person, aroused the interest and imagination of artists. Hence, the Gypsies became something more than just a community intriguing others with their difference, cultural characteristics and way of life. They became a symbol of freedom and independence. Artistic circles adopted names from Gypsies: the terms “artistic bohemianism” or “Bohemians” have an unambiguous etymology.

Stereotypical, simplified perceptions of Gypsies have been evolving for generations, for centuries. Even today knowledge about them—especially that of the so-called average person—is very limited, and this concerns not just Poland. the Gypsies are still treated as a folklore curiosity, as people equally mysterious and suspicious, simultaneously fascinating and repelling. the world of painted carts, which could still be seen on Polish roads about forty years ago, does not exist anymore, yet it has not fallen into oblivion. On the contrary, it is astounding just how widespread this image is, and how often it is evoked by people who do not know it from their own experience: wandering Gypsies, tents and camps next to a forest, bonfires at dusk, figures sitting around a fire in a forest clearing, long colorful skirts and wide trousers, palm reading and trading in horses or pans. the contemporary world of Gypsies is very different from that image, and not just in Poland. Also, Gypsies themselves feel the need to break away from the perceptions and attitudes that have accompanied them . . .

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