The Roma in Kosovo are called by different names by the other nations that live in Kosovo, as for example the Turkish call Roma as: Qingene, Pamuk, Firavun, 72 mileten dishari (out of 72 nations), Gabel, Qergar, Qifut (Jewish), Karabahtli (Blackfortunes), Esmerkardesh (Blackbrother)…

Albanians refer to Roma by these names: Majup, Yevg, jip, Qifut, whereas Serbian: Cigan, Qergari, Gabeli, Nomadi, Lutaqi…

From these names we see that Turkish call Roma by differet names. We won’t explain the name Qingene (Gipsy) as the same is used in English.




The name Pamuk, is used because Roma were collecting and still collect cotton or were selling cotton in Turkey. It is believed that for this name there may be some other explanations as well because a nation cannot be called with a certain name according to its profession, there must be something more that is linked with the nation or the nation`s tradition.

I think that the name Pamuk, was taken from Pomak nation that lives in Bulgaria, Macedonia, Kosovo, Moldavia, Albania, Romania … The nation was given this name by Bulgarians because the word Pomak derives from Bulgarian word Pomagaq - helpers, people that helped the other during the wars and although this nation lives in these territories they say that they derive from Kumanya, Turkish nation that ruled in Balkans in the 11th centrury. When Ottomans arrived, they helped them and that is how they received the name Pomakya, which derives from the word – Pomagac. This nation today is assimilated and they speak the language of the country where they live. This nation in Kosovo is called Gorani and this makes me think that Roma are called by this name because Roma were combatants who helped the others and today there are Roma called Gorani and these are the Roma that do not speak Romani and play the great music (drums and zurla) and only these musicians play on the weddings of Bosniaks – Nasinci (as this nation is called in Kosovo). Here we must mention that the word Goran come from Gora – Forest and this nation lives in Gora forest.


FIRAVUN (Turkya)/ PHARAOH (Turkey)


They took the name pharaoh because they thought Roma derived from Egypt and they also call them as disbelievers, as Pharaoh did not believe to St Moses beliefs/religion.


PENJO (Turkiya)/PENJO (Turkey)


The word Penjo is used for Roma in the village of Mamusha – Kosova, where I was born, but is also used by Turkish in Prizren - Kosova. This word is used as when we say to someone “you smart head” this may be used for a hidden knowledge or something you do so that it won’t be heard/known by others. It is also used for intelligence, praising. After I investigated about this word, I received the following response by Roma from Prizren:

“In old days Roma lived together with God on earth, and used to speak to him. When God wanted to leave the earth he called a representative-messenger from each nation in order to give them blessing in this World. In the day when the meeting was held, Roma representative St. Penjo, who was God’s beloved woke up in the morning and was getting ready for the meeting to get the blessing for Roma. As the others did not arrive, St. Penjo set outside, and while waiting he fell asleep. When he woke up all received the blessing for their nation, except St. Penjo who remained without blessing. He was given what was remaining and that was the drum - music. St. Penjo was very angry why he fell asleep as he could get a better fortune, but God told him that he gave him the music in order to make the peoples life easier, as the other will work and will get tired. However, God told St. Penjo that he has left a place for himself in this World and Roma should travel and search for that place, and whenever they find it, they will live with God in the same place.

Since that day Roma are musicians and while traveling from place to place are looking for the place of God in order to live together with him as one nation.”




The word Qifut is used the same as for kale – black people of the ones of black fortune but Qifut are also called Roma who are thought to have some relations with Jewish.





The word Esmerkaredesh is connected to the word Kale/black but now it appears as black brothers because based on religion all people are brothers.




Roma are also called as Gabeli and Qergarya because Roma live in tends, whereas we are still not sure about the word Gabel, although it is said that Jabel, based on religious beliefs – Bible, was the first man to live in tends and with his work he fed himself and his family. Therefore, people that stay in tends are called gabelya because in other languages the name Jabel is spelled with the letter G (gabel) and still is pronounced as Jabel.




When speaking about Albanians we may see that they call Roma Maxhup – Xhip maybe referring to Roma that came from Egypt as well as the other two names Yevg and Qifut connect to Jewish.







The Serbian name of Roma Cigan is connected to Greek word Atcigani a name given to Roma from Greece and this name indicates that Roma are untouchable, shall not be disturbed. This name may have been linked with religion, when reading the history of St Adam`s sons when one murdered the other… whereas the other names Nomadi (nomads) and Lutaci (drifter) are because Roma lived nomadic life and travel from place to place.


As the other nations called Roma different names, at the same time Roma called the others with different names, as for example: they called Turkish as Khorhaya and by this name it is said that Turkish, known by Roma, came from Khorosan - Iran. They call Albanians as Qhibane and Gavune because they know Albanians from Albania and are people that lived in villages or at least the places were as villages when Roma arrived. At the same time they also call Albanians as Qhibanya because Albanians are people that talk a lot. The same name is used for the people which, as Roma say, have a long tongue (loud talkers), and it is difficult to stop them talking. Todays these people are called as orators, people that speak a lot, skilled to speak for good or for bad (who know to cover the bad deeds).

As the other nations call Roma with different names, also Roma call one another with different names. These names are very important because by them we understand where does that Roma come from and how does they speak, for example: In Prizren, Roma refer to themselves according to the neighborhoods they live as Roma from Terzimahalla, Roma from Bazhdarhana, Roma from Qytmahala, Roma from New neighborhood, Roma from Tuzsuz, Roma from Mamusha etc. and all these Roma speak the same Roma language but their accent indicates where do they live and to which group they belong. We took this example because Roma live in different neighborhoods and are bound to one another and have settled years ago.

Many years ago, Roma did not marry someone from another neighborhood, but lately we may see that they changed this tradition and now marry with each other.

When we want to know how Roma call themselves, then we must see where do Roma live in Kosovo and how do they call themselves.

There are 7 regions in Kosovo and I may freely say in every region you may find Roma living there for a very long time and nobody knows when did Roma exactly arrive in those places.


1. Prizren is the region with the highest number of Roma and are called as Arliye and Gurbetya - Gabelya.

2. In Gjakova/Djakovica region live Roma that call themselves as Gurbetya and Arliye and speak the dialect of Gurbet and Arli.

3. In Peja/Pec region Roma call themselves as Gurbetya and speak the Gurbet dialect.

4. In Gjilan/Gnjilane region Roma call themselves Arliye and speak the Arli dialect.

5. In Ferizaj/Urosevac region Roma call themselves as Arliye and Jambazya and speak the Arli and Jambazi (gurbet) dialect.

6. The region of Prishtina is mixed but Arli are dominating.

7. In Mitrovica region there are Arliye and Gurbetya.

In some of today`s regions you can hardly find Roma or their number is very low, for example in Prishtina there are no Roma anymore in Romani neighborhoods or their number is quite lower than the number before the war. After the war they migrated and today are living in different countries.



Above we have mentioned some names by which are called Roma, but in order to clarify them better, let me explain broader what do these names indicate and mean.

Arli are also called as Yerliye and Erliye. The word Arli is used for those that are hesitant, honest, people that do not lie. Arliye are merchants, people dealing with trade therefore these people must be faithful in order to be successful in their business, because if they would lie to people, they will lose the customers.

The word Erliya derives from Turkish language and is taken from the word “Er”, which means the same as Rom in Romani language, which we have explained previously, however this name is used also for the soldiers that have no rank but are people under the total state controle (dwelling, food, clothing …). The word Yerliya as well derives from Turlish language and is used for local people, people that do not travel from place to place but rather are locals and are settled in one place.

Gurbetya are also called as Jambazya and Gabelya. The word Gurbet is Turkish word used to indicate that such people are not locals, are expatriates that came from other places.

Jambazya are people tat do Arlipe – trade (merchants) but mostly sell horses and are people that fight a lot for the price (bargain) when doing a trade. For the name Gabelya we spoke above but even if these Roma do not live in tents are called Gabelya maybe because have settled far later than the other nations in a certain place.




Now let us discuss a little about Ashkali and Egyptians who even to date are mixed with Roma and today these three communities are in Kosovo often referred as RAE Communities.

In Prizren and Ferizay/Urosevac region live Ashkali who before the war were called as Roma but now they have separated from Roma saying that they are not Roma because they do not speak Romani. At the same time in Gjakova/Djakovica and Peja/Pec regions there are Ashkali and Egyptians who until the last war of Kosovo were called Roma but now have separated from Roma and in the last elections were declared as Ashkali and Egyptians. We will further write more about this in order to have a better picture.

As said above, Roma in Kosovo were called as Majup, Jip and with other names for indicating their arrival from Egypt, therefore Roma in English language are called Jipsi referring to Roma that migrated from Egypt.

Egyptians call themselves with this name just because they do not speak Romani. They speak Albanian but are aware that are not Albanians. They believe to be Copts, old Egyptian nation but they also do not speak Coptic. It is known that they were named Roma by other nations, the same as were named Roma who declared themselves as Roma. Many people connect this issue with language obliteration …

They claim not to be Roma because they do not speak Romani, but they also do not speak Coptic language but look forward to be considered as Copts and here we may see the disagreement.

When speaking about Ashkali, they also do not speak Romani but they call themselves as Ashkani (Parthians–Ashkanians) a nation that ruled before our era in Persia and broader. The name of the first Pharthians king was Ashk (love-tear) and after his death the nation took his name and became Ashkani. It is important to know that Ashk was the man who belonged to a tribe called Parni (3) that were living a nomadic life. This word in Romani language means white which is the opposite of the name of the nation Kalo.

Now the question is, how could Egyptians who were to date considered as Roma, are separating just because they do not speak Romani?! The same as Egyptians, Ashkali as well do not speak Romani but declare themselves as Ashkali and claim to be Parthians even though do not speak Parthian language?!

Such cases of language forgetfulness are also in other places as in Kosovo as well as in other places of the world, but these people know that are Roma and are called as Albanian Roma, Serbian Roma, Turkish Roma …, who lived among these nations and have assimilated.

Even if these nations have assimilated still they interact with Roma and marry with each other.

Many Ashkali and Egyptians do not want to admit they interact with Roma, but as my father was Ashkali and my mother Roma, I know this very well, because my family is quite big and as there is such mix in my family there are similar cases by other families as well whom we know.

In Kosovo are living some other Roma as well who speak Romani and are Erliye but are also called with other names such as: Lingurya, Korlakya, Paqakya, Balabanya...

The word Linguri derives from Romanian language and means wood, people that produce spoons, dishes, combs and other small house tools from wood. These names are mentioned when Roma argue with each other or when they want to underestimate the people.

When speaking about Korlakya, this name is often used as family name as well and we do not know a lot about the routs of the word but it is assumed that this name is also used to underestimate the people. What we know is that the name Korlak is considered to be a lord’s name and is thought that he rules in the water - oceans. People used to pray to Korlak not to punish them.


All sailors and seafarers must respect Korlak. His domain encompasses all the ocean, and he is patron of all evil sea creatures. His existence is largely the reason for the large members and relative success of the Orcish pirates in the Sea of Shoals and the Gleaming Isles.

We don’t know a lot about Paqakya. What we know about them is that there is a place-village in Iran - Luristan called Pachak. We also know that there is a grass – flower that flourishes in Himalayas and by it thay make straw. It is very interesting that in Kosovo there is a family name Pachak for example Kuytim Paqak – Romani writer and journalist, whereas there are many other Pachaks throughout the world.


When speaking about Balabanya, Roma that are called Balabanya do not know why they are called by this name, but it is known that many villages are known by this name for example in Edirne – Uzunköprü thare is a village Balaban and among the others there are living Pomaks, Muhajirs and Roma. From history we know that the village was named by the name of Mr. Balaban, the commander of Ottomans, who was the first to stand up with his people from Anatolia in Balkans and were settled in Rumeli. As Mr. Balaban was the Ottoman`s commander, we don’t know what is the link between him and Kosovo Roma.


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