boho gypsy

The Gypsy Way Of Life

Where do gypsies come from?

Well basically, they are Romani people, with genetic evidence pointing to having Indian roots. They are often derogatorily referred to as “gypsies” due to being outsiders in the foreign lands they journey to. They picked up the label “bohemians” because they were initially thought of coming from Bohemia. In truth, they merely traveled via Bohemia but did not originate from the area.

Facts like these give us a general profile of what the gypsies were as a people back in the day. Needless to say, they are an interesting race but one that is not as appreciated by the common crowd. It is sad to admit that the bohemian aesthetic has to some degree, contributed to this. A lot of people forget that there was a culture that nurtured it before it even became an aesthetic category.

Raindrop Nebulizing Diffuser

It is only right that while we appreciate every bohemian outfit, we also look deeper into its roots. Boho chic is certainly more than only a fashion style.

The masses get to appreciate celebrities more after watching documentaries or interviews highlighting their daily lives. This blog article aims to create the same impact. This read will get you in touch with the bohemian people and their life back then. What did their everyday life look like and what were their living conditions? What does a bohemian family look like?

Where do gypsies live?

Gypsies have a reputation for being nomadic. At present time, this is no longer a lifestyle widely practiced. A lot of bohemian groups have settled in foreign lands, with a large population habituating Europe today. Some have even adapted to the predominant religion of the country they reside in.

Back in the day, however, living nomadic was considered necessary for their survival. Other than to acquire resources like food, they were also often met with violence and hostility. As a result, they had to be always on the move. Following this need, combining travel and lodging led to the development of Romani Wagons called vardos.

What is the gypsy horse used for?

Bohemian homes may have differed then, but traditionally, a vardo was used as both a vehicle and living space for families. These wagons function like caravans and RV’s but were horse-drawn and were primarily crafted from wood. Vardos were not only functional but were also elaborately designed with Romani symbol carvings.


gypsy horse

The vardos appeared around 1850. Before their use, bohemians were believed to have traveled by foot and slept in tents or under trees.

Today, it is said that only about 1% of bohemian travelers maintain the tradition of living in these horse-drawn vardos. It is safe to conclude that the modern twist on today’s bohemian style caravans and travel trailers have drawn great inspiration from the vardos.

What does a bohemian family mean?

As far as your imagination goes, vardos are small living spaces especially because they are built optimally for travel. However, contrary to assumption, the typical bohemian family is not so small in number. Bohemians value close family ties, as a result, members of an extended family live together and travel as a group. Most families include the immediate family members, and each of their children’s families if any. Children usually marry early, commonly due to parental intervention, so a family’s increasing number is very much expected.

In 2000, Romani was been declared a non-territorial nation.  With no physical country or republic, it is no wonder why a family is a unit cherished by its people.

What are bohemian Kumpanias?

As previously established, bohemians traveled in groups. These groups were called “kumpanias.” Kumpanias were made of several extended families, ranging from ten to hundreds of different families. Due to a large number of members, it is common for smaller alliances to form within these kumpanias. These smaller groups are called “vitsas,” and are usually comprised of families that share a common ancestry. Vitsas usually also have a chief and council.

A voivode leads this whole community and takes the role of chieftain. He decides on the route of the group’s migration and is often the spokesperson of the group. An elder woman is also appointed to be the phuri dai. She is tasked to look after the well-being of the community especially of the women and children. Her influence within the community is tremendous and the women and children rely on her leadership greatly. Just like other ethnic groups, the elders of the community also hold a degree of authority. They are usually given the task of resolving internal conflicts and issuing punishment for misconduct. They are also the council of the voivode.

How do gypsies make money?

Nomadism as mentioned earlier was necessary for survival. This lifestyle led to bohemians taking up occupations that kept up with their migratory nature.  Men were usually livestock traders and metalsmiths while women entertained by being musicians and fortune-tellers. The bohemians were also craftsmen and their skills were best symbolized and popularized by their colorful vardos.

bohemian romani
Source: Unsplash

With the knowledge that the gypsies were widely persecuted, one would quickly conclude that they have a sad story to tell. However, I would like to paint a strong picture of the Bohemian Romani people. Despite being met with hostility, having no country to call their own, and being on a continuous fight for their rights, they have remained steadfast to this day.

The world has limited them, yet they are free people, probably freer than any other race. I would like to believe that their countless journeys across the globe had given them adventures that we could only dream of. Their free spirit is not easily attainable. Their children were raised with the value of living for today and their people relied on each other more than anyone. If anything, I see deep-rooted courage, strength, and rich beauty.

This blog celebrates the gypsies, the bohemians, the Romani people.

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