The Rom-Vlach Gypsies
and the Kris-Romani
Before discussing the kris-Romani, or “Gypsy Court, ” it may be useful to describe the leadership structure among the large group of Rom in Canada and the United States who have been defined as the Rom-Vlach Gypsies.1 Many Gypsiologists and writers who have written about this group have borrowed from previous sources and, in my opinion, have failed to clarify the exact nature of leadership among them. In some ways, they have created a new set of stereotypes to replace those they have attempted to demolish—for example, the semi-mythological “Gypsy Chieftain” or “tribal leader” has now been redefined as the “big man, ” or baro. Some of these modern “big men” have even been cast as all-powerful urbangangster types in the image of the typical Hollywood godfather.2 The term baro is
The opinions expressed in this article are the author'S own and do not reflect the official policy of the Romani Union. As a Canadian Rom of British descent he respects the anonymity of living Roma. Those named herein are deceased, or referred to in other published sources in connection with information that itself is already public. The spelling of Romani words is his own. For equivalent spellings see Hancock, “Glossary of Romani Terms, ” chap. 8 in this volume.