Reviews

Underlying that the group coherence given to varied groups of Gypsy origin in Central Asia does not necessarily correspond with a reality on the field, the author of this captivating and well-informed article questions the mobility—a traditional attribute of Gypsy populations— of the Mughats of Uzbekistan through written sources (pre-modern Islamic sources, mainly in the works of M. J. De Goeje, and Russian-language texts of the colonial and Soviet periods) and through the popular discourse of the global society on them.  The different denominations used in the world of Islam and in Central Asia for populations of Gypsy origin are rapidly surveyed.  The author then evokes the seasonal migratory activity of the Gypsy rhapsodes from the Indian subcontinent in the Emirate of Bukhara (through Russian travellers and observers, and through a page devoted to them by the poet Mir Husayn ‘Miri’).  As to the present period, the author has well observed the reluctance of her settled informants to be identified as the descendants of nomads, even if some continue to practice, in town, the same activity of fabrication of wooden implements as their ancestors.  If, in some cases, periodical moving remains a key feature of the observed groups, it has however become difficult to speak of on them of a nomadic way of life.  To be regretted, perhaps, is the translation of the term qawwal (non-mentioned in the text) by “minstrel” instead of “rhapsode” (the latter better takes into account the often religious and mystical character of the Central Asian Gypsy-background qawwals’ repertory).  Can be deplored also the lack of connection between the fabrication of sieves and wooden dishes by the Luli observed by Ujvalfy in the late-nineteenth-century Osh region and the same activity of the Jats in Afghanistan, with whom the Mughats of Uzbekistan are compared by the author (who quotes in her paper the famous monograph devoted by Rao to the Jats).  These reserves notwithstanding, the present article by a young researcher provides a rare and extremely promising contribution to the history and social science of Gypsy-origin populations in Central Asia.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: I-7.4.A-630