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Jervoise Athelstane Baines , ( 1893 ), General report on the Census of India, 1891 , London , Her Majesty's Stationery Office , p. 201


 

that of the vagrant group of castes, because attempts have been made to derive from the title Dóm the universal appellation of Róm given to their community by the gipsies, and meaning, of course, according to their interpretation, " the man." There is every reason to believe that the gipsies are really the descendants of the 12,000 or so of musicians and earthworkers, &c., transported to Persia, probably from Sindh, in the time of Behrám Gaur, about 400 A.D., and in the section of this chapter dealing with languages, it was stated that the title Egyptian was probably derived from Jat, the prevailing caste of Sindh and the Lower Panjáb at that time. The reason for adopting this root is mainly the insufficiency of evidence for the alternative derivation. In all the varieties of the gipsy language in Europe we find lots of low Prakritic words, a good deal synonymous with those in use in Upper India in the present day, but scarcely any Arabic. Again, there is no tradition regarding the passage of the gipsies to Europe by Egypt, whilst there is a very definite one as to their migration from Mesopotamia and Persia to North Syria, and from thence to the shores of the Bosphorus. Now, in Syria the gipsies are called Zatti, or, in the plural, zatt, to this day, and Arabic authors derive this term from " Jat, an Indian tribe," and give the same title to a particular kind of cotton cloth woven by the gipsies. There is, again, the statement, though the foundation for it is not given, that in olden times, Bithynia, where the gipsies undoubtedly settled, was called Little Egypt, but it does not seem that this derivation of the word is required, in the light of the evidence available as to the connection between the gipsies and India. Language, customs, caste­exclusiveness and all point to their origin in the Indus Valley, though, as Browning says of them:

North they go, south they, go, trooping on lonely;
And still as they travel far and wide,
Catch they and keep hold a trace here, a trace there,
That puts you in mind of a place here, a place there."

But though we admit this much regarding the Indian origin of the gipsies, the alleged connection between Dóm and Róm seems to be doubtful. It is open to question, in the first place, whether the interchange of R and a palatal D can take place at the beginning of a word, though it obviously can in any other position. Then again, there is no reason to affiliate the gipsies to the Dóm rather than to the vagrants more specially given to the performances for which the gipsies are celebrated, who are found in the tracts from which the latter were historically recruited.* From another point of view, that of language irrespective of ethnology, we find that Róm means, not only man, in the general, but, as in German, married man or husband, in the particular, so we may connect it with the Prakritic Raman, a husband or lover; or the same word, in its earlier signification, of restless wandering ; or, once more, in its sense of sport, amusement, as the change of a vowel costs less than that of a consonant. Mr. Leland's authority,+ John Náno, maker of curry powder in London, but by origin a " Mahometan Hindu " of Calcutta, seems to have been akin to the certain persons of Kyréné, " who favoured Herodotus in a somewhat similar manner.


Class VIII. Traders, &c. 12,270,973
Group 1. Traders 12,148,597
1. Mahájan and Bania (unspecified). 3,186,660
2. Agarwál 354,177
3. Khatri 686,511
4. Aróra 673,695
5. Komti 545,206
6. Balija 804,307
7. Chetti 702,141
8. Mappila 916,436
9. Labbé 364,293
10. Lohána 530,168

A great portion of the trading community returns itself by the title of Bania, Vaishia, or Mahájan, which are simply functional designations, and ignore the real subdivisions of caste which underlie the above. Thus, the full strength of many of the items shown in Table XVII. (A.) under this group is not that given in the return, but something considerably above it, the balance being included under the general title. We have, however, a few definite entries. Aróra, for instance, is the great trading and shopkeeping caste of the Western Panjáb. The Khatri, its neighbour to the east, is not so exclusively given up to trade, and, like the corresponding class in Gujaráth, furnishes a considerable portion of the staff of employés in the offices of the local government. The commercial element of Telingána is supplied by the Komti and Balija, and possibly some of the former have

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* A brave attempt has been made to derive conjure from Kanjur. ­ J. A. B.
+ Gipsies, p. 337.