Roma in Spain

Roma in Spain

Infobox Ethnic group
group = Roma in Spain _es. "Gitanos"

caption = Spanish Gitanos:
Lolita Flores·Isabel Pantoja·Joaquín Cortés
poptime = Romani 600,000-800,000 up to roughly 1.5% of the Spanish population
popplace = Throughout the Country
region1 = flag|Andalusia
pop1 = 270,000
region2 = flag|Valencia
pop2 = 50,000
region3 = flag|Castile and León
pop3 = 29,000
region4 = flag|Catalonia
pop4 = 80,000
region5 = flag|Madrid
pop5 = 60,000
langs = Romani language·Caló (Spanish Romani)·Spanish language·Catalan language
rels = Predominantly Evangelical
related = Roma people
The Romani people in Spain are generally known as Gitanos. Spanish Roma tend to speak Caló which is basically Andalusian Spanish with a large number of Romani loan words. Estimates of the Spanish Gitano population fluctuate between 600,000 and 800,000 with the Spanish government estimating a number between 650,000 and 700,000. []


It is generally accepted that the Roma migrated out of the Punjab & Rajasthan regions of the Indian subcontinent into Europe as early as the eleventh century. They are known to have brought the Indian Classical dance forms & Indian singing styles to Spain in the form of Flamenco, which directly derives from the Kathak dance of India. While in most of Europe the Roma arrived from Asia through Eastern Europe, there are records of their having arrived in Spain from Northern Africa, as early as 1425 and in Barcelona and Zaragoza, in particular, by 1447. At first they were well received and were even accorded official protection by many local authorities, but by 1492 the first anti-Gypsy law was passed in Spain. Spanish Roma are linked to Flamenco and have contributed a great deal to this Andalusian musical art. According to Blas Infante, in his book "Orígenes de lo flamenco y secreto del cante jondo", etymologically, the word "Flamenco" may derive from Andalusi Arabic "fellah mengu", "Escapee Peasant". Infante connects the huge amount of Muslim Andalusians who decided to stay and mix with the Romani newcomers instead of abandoning their lands because of their religious beliefs (Moriscos). After the Castilian reconquest of Andalusia, the Reconquista, most of the land was expropriated and given to warlords and mercenaries who had helped the Castilian kings enterprise against Al-Andalus. When the Spanish Crown later ordered the expulsion or forceful conversion of the Andalusian Moriscos, many of them took refuge among the Gypsies, becoming fellah mengu in order to avoid persecution, or forced deportation. In 1492 the Gypsies were included too in the list of peoples to be assimilated or driven out. For about 300 years, Gypsies were subject to a number of laws and policies designed to eliminate them from Spain as an identifiable group: Romani settlements were broken up and the residents dispersed; sometimes, Gypsies were even required to marry non-Gypsies; they were denied their language and rituals as well as being excluded from public office and from guild membership. citation needed

Gypsies worked as nomadic beast traders or entertainers.The sedentary population ("payos", "Gadjos") saw them as both dangerous, accusing them of laziness, stealing and kidnapping children, and attractive, bringing novelties from the outer world, having magical powers of palmistry and living freely and carelessly.citation needed

During the Spanish Civil War, many gypsy Catholics were murdered by Republican Forces, many of them becoming martyrs and saints by Pope Benedict XVI.Under Francisco Franco, Gypsies were harassed or simply ignored, although their children were, albeit sometimes forcibly, schooled. In the post-Franco era, however, Spanish government policy has been much more sympathetic toward them, especially in the area of social welfare and social services.In 1977, there were eliminated the last anti-gypsy, clearly discriminatory laws, promoted by Juan De Dios Rámirez Heredia, the first gypsy deputy. Since 1983, for example, the government has operated a special program of compensatory education to promote educational rights for the disadvantaged, including those in Romani communities. The challenge will be to devise programs that bring the Romani population into the mainstream of the country's economic and political life without eroding the group's distinctive cultural and linguistic heritage.citation needed

At the same time, many Spanish Gypsies have found soothing to their lives in Evangelic Christianity, where the church has incorporated Flamenco in their worship.


Gitanos were traditionally Roman Catholics who participate in four of the church's sacraments (baptism, marriage, confirmation, and extreme unction), but they are not assiduous churchgoers. They rarely go to folk healers, and they participate fully in Spain's state-supported medical system. Gitanos have a special involvement with recently dead kin, visit their graves frequently, and spend a great deal more money than non-Gitanos of equivalent economic classes in adorning grave sites.

At present, more than a half of all Gitanos have joined the Evangelical faith.Fact|date=January 2008 This fact has contributed to a better social status and cultural development. Even non-Evangelical Gitanos usually call the pastors for important ceremonies as funerals. The Romani Evangelical Assembly is the only religious institution entirely led and composed by Roma. The Gitano's however are of Hindu origin, as the Romany word for 'cross' is 'Trushul' which is the Hindu goddess Shiva's Trident.


The traditional Spanish Gypsies place a high value on the extended family. Virginity is essential in unmarried women. Both men and women often marry young.Fact|date=April 2008 These traits are inherited from their Indian origin, as has been practiced by Indians throughout history.


Spanish Roma are called gitanos. In the late 1980s, the gitanos lived predominantly in southern and central Spain. Poor and largely illiterate, they have never been integrated into Spanish society.

Gitanos is a Spanish name, in southern France they are known as "Gitans" or more generally "Tsiganes" (includes the other French Roma) and in Portugal they are known as "Ciganos". Similarly to the English word Gypsy, the name "Gitano" comes from the old Spanish word "Egiptano" (Egyptian), because in past centuries it was thought their origins were in the country of Egypt. After losing their original Romani language, they used Caló, a jargon with Spanish grammar and some Romani vocabulary (although very little). "Caló" means "dark" in Caló and the Caló word for "Gitanos" is "calé", also "the dark ones". Caló is one of the influences of later Germanía and modern Spanish slang.

There is also a current trend of migration of Romanian, Slovak and Muslim Moroccan Roma into the country.

As well there is a relevant number of them in latin america who migrated during the colony, many times escaping from the catholic inquisition.

In art

The image of Gitanos as outsiders to the main Spanish society have inspired several authors:
*"La gitanilla", by Miguel de Cervantes has Preciosa, a young Gitana, whose graceful dancing and singing convince a young noble to abandon his life and live as a Gitano.
*"Federico Garcia Lorca, a great Spanish poet of the 20th century, wrote "Romancero Gitano", "Gypsy Ballad Book." One of the poems in this collection is "Preciosa y el Aire" (Preciosa and the Air), in which the teenage girl created by Cervantes has a supernatural adventure.
*Prosper Merimée's "Carmen" (1845) has the protagonist as a "femme fatale", ready to lie or attack and degrading men's lives.
*The beauty of a dark-haired Gitana has inspired people like Julio Romero de Torres.

Famous Gitanos

Following are famous people of Gitano ethnicity or descent:

*Carmen Amaya, Flamenco dancer
*Isabel Pantoja , singer
*Manolo Caracol, Flamenco singer
*Lolita Flores , singer
*Micaela Flores Amaya, "La Chunga", Flamenco dancer
*Vicente Escudero, He was a dancer and choreographer of Spanish Flamenco; occasionally painter, writer, cinematographic actor and flamenco singer.
*Helios Gómez, Spanish artist painter, writer and poet
*Antonio González, "el Pescaílla", guitarist
*Ricardo Baliardo, "Manitas de Plata", French guitarist
* Joaquín Albaicín Spanish writer, lecturer and columnist for the artistic life
* José Heredia Maya Spanish poet and dramaturg
*Juan Peña Fernández, "el Lebrijano", guitarist
*Gipsy Kings, French group of "Flamenco Rumba"
*Pedro Pubill Calaf, "Peret", Flamenco Rumba music star
*Juan de Dios Ramírez Heredia, Spanish Socialist MEP
*Camarón de la Isla, Flamenco star
*Farruquito, Flamenco dancer
*José Antonio Reyes, Spanish football player, currently plays for Atlético Madrid
*Daniel Güiza, Spanish football player, currently plays for Fenerbahce
*Telmo Zarraonaindia, Spanish football
*Jesús Navas, Spanish football player, currently plays for Sevilla FC
*Carlos Antonio Muñoz Cobo, Spanish football
*Arzu, Spanish football player, currently plays for Real Betis
*José Mari, Spanish football player, currently plays for Real Betis
*David Cortés Caballero, Spanish football player, currently plays for Getafe CF
* Juana Martín Manzano, Fashion Designer
*Los Niños de Sara, French fusion musicians
*Ketama, Spanish fusion musicians
*Diego "El Cigala", Flamenco singer
*Joaquín Cortés, Flamenco dancer
*Faustino Reyes, Spanish Boxer
*Ceferino Giménez Malla, blessed
* Patxi Ruiz Giménez Champion Basque pelota


* [ The Situation of Roma in Spain] . The Open Society Institute, 2002 (PDF).
* Worth, Susannah and Sibley, Lucy R. "Maja Dress and the Andalusian Image of Spain." "Clothing and Textiles Research Journal," Summer 1994, Vol. 12, pp.51-60.

ee also

*Gitanos article in the Spanish Wikipedia.
*Triana (Seville), a neighborhood traditionally linked to Gitano history.
*Sacromonte, the traditional Gitano quarter of Granada.
*George Borrow, an English missionary and traveller who studied the Gypsies of Spain and other parts of Europe.

External links

* [ Union Romani]

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