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RIP, Gipsy / В последний путь, цыган - crimeanelf
RIP, Gipsy / В последний путь, цыган

This is so interesting, that I could not resist the temptation to translate it for Andres. And since it is translated — why not to put it in LJ, am I right? Это так интересно, что я не удержалась, начала переводить на английский для Андреса. А коли переведено — почему не запостить в ЖЖ, я верно мыслю?

Sources in Russian: pictures by allek_san_derr, text by gipsylilya. Источники на русском: фотографии (автор allek_san_derr), текст (автор gipsylilya).

As always, if you feel like making corrections in my English, I would appreciate if you do.Как всегда, если видите ошибку, меня можно поправить, я обрадуюсь.

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Gypsies way of funerals often strikes the imagination of non-Gypsies. It is very different from European funeral tradition.

First, one should understand, that many peculiarities of Gypsies funeral, even though resemble ancient European pagan traditions, really have completely different core, i.e., they come directly from the "elderly and ancestors" cult and the idea of ritual "impurity".

Gypsy law is almost completely about the latter (and in this sense is somewhat similar to Orthodox Judaism). Death is one of the events, that Gypsy tradition considers "impure". Thus, the deceased people are also impure. Different Gypsies have different concepts of what also becomes impure because of death:

1) For all Gypsies, this are the clothes, in which the person died.

2) For many Gypsies, this is what he/she touched while dying. (This is why elderly from poor nomad families, when sensing the proximity of death, would lie down on the ground, in order not to bereave their families of the only bed, trying not to touch the mattress. The mattress was a very, very important thing for nomads, because it was believed, that people, that don't have it and sleep on a bare ground, live less and get sick more... I think, they did not believe that without a reason.)

3) For some Gypsies, this are all the personal belongings (personal, not common, clothes, jewelry, kitchenware, etc.)

4) Sometimes, the relatives of the deceased.

In case of the relatives, they ate from separate plates, did not touch the things they were planning on using later and other people. As time passed, the filth would go away and they were considered "clean" again. I don't know whether this tradition still exists anywhere.

As for goods, they had to be gotten rid of. Long ago, there was a tradition to give them away near churches, to poor people (non-Gypsies, who aren't afraid of filth, since they did not obey the gypsy law), or burn, or dig in the ground. Another part was buried with the corpse. Nowadays, they put ALL "impure" belongings of the deceased to the grave.

Long ago the deceased would be buried in a coffin or, for some Gypsies, cremated. But some time ago an opinion became wide spread, that it is disrespectful for the ancestors to let their ashes to disappear, dissolved in the dirt or dispersed by the wind. People started to fortify graves with bricks. As time passed, the graves became bigger and bigger, especially because in XX century most Gypsies started to have more personal belongings (however most of goods are still traditionally considered as family property), and people started putting in graves things, that before that before they would give to the poor. One of the reasons is that the given-away things could potentially be later touched by other Gypsies, without knowing it.

Another sign of respect to the ancestors are gravestones with portraits, the fancier, the better. The images of cars, jewelry, housed on the gravestones pursue same goal. It is an issue of such great importance, that a Gypsy writer Oleg Petrovich mentions in his book "Barons of Gypsy's family Saporoni" how one Gypsy worked for the whole year to earn enough price to get the gravestone, that would be appropriate for his respect to his late father.

It seems, that the image on the gravestone is trying to say: the deceased lived in plenty (photo by lubech).

If you think you understand Gypsy's respect to the ancestors, you're wrong, very wrong. Because it is nothing like a respect you used to show in Europe. It's a cruel, childish, "furious and wild" (c) respect, getting close to, but not becoming idolization.

It even comes to that the relatives help the deceased to... to brag! They buy more belongings. For a corpse, you understand? With only purpose to put them to the grave. So that people, who'll come to the funeral, see, how rich was the deceased.

And one last detail. In the last few decades it became common to not just put things in the grave, but to arrange them there like in a bedroom. It looks like the deceased was prepared for the afterlife, like Egyptian Pharaoh, but this is not what it's for. It is for appearance, nothing else.

P.S. Christian Gypsies besides the above described exclusively gypsy rituals, also have all Christian rituals, such as burial service, funeral repast and forty-days repast.

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