EUROPEAN GYPSIES IN EGYPT.—In the Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society, vol. 7, ser. 3, pt. 2, Dr. John Sampson, citing a paper published by Capt. Newbold which appeared in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society in 1856, analyses a vocabulary there given of the Ghagars, one of the three gypsy tribes which the author met in Egypt. The Ghagars themselves spoke of having brethren in Hungary, but this reference had been overlooked by later writers, who had not doubted that they belonged to the eastern Romani groups, which includes the Helebis of Egypt, the Nawar of Palestine, the Kurbat of Syria and Persia, and the Karaci of Asia Minor and Transcaucasia. A re-examination of the vocabulary, however, shows close affinities with the dialects of western Romani, especially of the Balkan and eastern European gypsies, though coupled with borrowings from the eastern Romani with whom they obviously have been in contact for a considerable time. It would appear from their vocabularial and phonetic peculiarities that the Ghagars must have originated in the region of Mol davia, of which Bukowina and Bessarabia are the modern linguistic representatives. In 1322, Symon Simeonis, in his “Itinerarium,” recorded the existence of a people in Alexandria and Cairo who from their characteristics were clearly gypsies who had come as prisoners of war from the Danube, and though these are probably too early in date for it to be likely that they are Ghagars, it is possible that the latter are transported prisoners of the later wars between Turk, Hungarian, and Pole in the seventeenth century.
About this article
The Journal of Chemical Physics (1952)