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“Gypsies who do not roam” OCHOTNICA GÓRNA (Gypsy settlement)

Gypsies came to the Carpathians most probably during the Vallachian migrations (15th-17th Centuries), together with herders from the Balkans and Ruthenia. They gave up their vagabond lifestyle and started to settle on the outskirts of villages – on wastelands, no man’s lands, often on floodplains. read more

Working for the local farmers and herders, usually as blacksmiths or musicians, they wandered. together with their families, from village to village in Poland and Ruthenia. It was only in the middle of the 20th Century that they started to settle permanently.

In the Polish part of the Carpathians, the most populous Gypsy settlements were those in Czarna Góra, Szaflary, Czarny Dunajec, Ostrowsko, Krośnica near Krościenko, Maszkowice near Łącko, Rytro, Koszary near Limanowa, and Biała Woda. Their development – small houses, sheds, booths and forges – was poor and chaotic.

Initially, the Romanies lived in partial dugouts, or temporary, quickly-patched-together huts. Also the houses they built later (in Romanian: khery) resembled single-room booths. They were made heedlessly, using demolition materials, thin beams, manufacturing panels used for barrack construction, insulated with fragments of boards or roofing paper. Their interior looked equally poor: the ceiling usually covered with paper, a primitive stove with a pipe reaching out of the roof, simple wooden benches, iron beds. Instead of a closet, a sheet tied to a pole, which also served as a crib. Walls were pasted with colour pictures from magazines, decorated with holy icons and plastic flowers. A Gypsy family, as a rule multi-generational and with many children, lived together in a single room.

In the 1950s, some of the Gypsies of the Podhale, Spiš and Beskid Sądecki moved to live in towns – Nowy Sącz, Nowy Targ, Nowa Huta, and to the Lower Silesia.

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