Tatcho Drom
Journeying Journals of a Jolly Journeyman

Chilean Gitano “Races” by Gaston Salamanca

There was a website about Chilean Gitanos that was very informative. Unfortunately, it was closed. Before it was closed I had the luck of being permitted to translate some of the pages from Spanish into English by the author and professor Gastón Salamanca. The following article was originally written by Professor Salamanca and it relates to various groups within the Chilean Gitano population and their various traits. You may find another of these translated pages in my journal: Chilean Gitano Origins.

“Races” and Families of Gitano Romá in Chile

~ by Gastón Salamanca

It is difficult to specify what the gitanos romá of Chile designate as a “race”. This term, as Cristian Sotomayor points out, normally associated with geneology appears to elude more appropriately to groups of gitanos that share certain generalised characteristics than specific “races” (Sotomayor, 1993: 41).

There are at least six well defined gitano romá “races”, whose profiles are relatively well defined. These are: káwichis, koriánura, baduníchura, khañária, chikaresti and invasórure. Some of the “race” characteristics based on our observations and the testimony of other gitanosinclude:

  • káwichis: They are dedicated to car sales and the fabrication of copper objects. They stand out for their ability for business. They are mainly established to the south of the country.
  • koriánurakoriános: They are known for their huge tents and their luxurious cars. The opinion of other gitanos that belong to other “races” is that the koriánura always speed when driving and are known to have violent reactions. We also find a large population of them in the south of Chile.
  • baduníchura: These gitanos stand out for the extreme dedication to work. Other gitanos tend to reproach them because the baduníchura are highly exclusive. The vast majority of this race belong to the [Seventh-day] Adventist Gypsy Church. You find less of them in the south of Chile.
  • invasórure: These gitanos possess the most precarious socioeconomic status (they walk around barefoot, their tents and cars are very old, etc). The romá who belong to other “races” worriedly note that amongst the invasórure the cosummation of alcohol and the inhalation of glue is very high. The vast majority of these gitanos live in the north of the country (Arica, Iquique, Antofagasta, La Serena).
  • chikaresti: The gitanos who belong to other “races” describe them as “very exaggerated and scandalous”, but recognise within them a very noble and sociable people.
  • khañaria: This race is charactirised by the central role that women play (“it is common within these gitanos for the woman to work more than the man”, tells us Zorka Nicolich). You find them mainly in the north of the country.

Even though the gitanos from Chile distinguish within themselves various “races”, they can all be classified as romá jorajané. That way they are distinguished from the romá leasi (gitanos from Argentina).

The surnames most frequently used by the gitanos from Chile are: Nicolich, Pantich, Are(i)stich, Ilich, Basovich (this family identifies themselves with the invasórure race), Marcovich and California.

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