Ali Mezarcıoğlu Are There any Relation between Roma and the Name Kıpti


Many Roma families living in Turkey know that the name Kıpti was written in the identification cards of their ancestors in the religion section. The situation preoccupy our people. They wonder if there are any relation between Roma and Coptics or not. Actually, there are no real connection between Roma and the Egiptian Coptics. Semantic change of the word caused Roma and the other Cigany groups to be registered as Kıpti in the Ottoman registrations.

The most important witness of Roma history and the most significative element of Roma culture is the Roma language, Romanes. There are too many words from various Indian languages in Romanes. In the same time, it's also possible to find words from Greek, Persian, Turkish and some Caucasian languages in Romanes. These words enlighten us about the origin and neighbours of Roma people with who they have had relation throughout history. Roma identity emerged as a result of being coalesced of Cigany groups, who left India for almost 1000 years ago, among themselves and with local Cigany groups of the countries, which they passed, in Byzantium Empire.

Coptics are the native population of Egypt. They are the founders of ancient Egiptian civilization. They still live in Egypt as a minority. They have their own language. The Coptic language is accepted as a part of Egiptian branch of Hamito-Semitic languages. The Roma language Romanes is a part of Indo-European languages. Although too many similarities have been found between Romanes and Indian languages, no similarity have been found among Romanes and the coptic language until now. This situation clearly prove that there is no relation between the Egiptian Coptics and Roma.

Now, we have to answer an other question. Why did Ottoman and Byzantium Empires recognized us as Kıpti?

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There are nomadic peoples, who have to subsist on preparing some craft productions and providing some services on account of the fact that their sources which they need for agriculture and herding were captured, all around the word. These peoples are being identified as Cigany (Çingene-Tsigani) in Balkans, Anatolia, Central Asia and some parts of Middle East today by surrounding populations. Surely, there were nomadic or semi-nomadic peoples who were subsisting on these professions in the ancient Egypt. These peoples were travelling around the different parts of world since ancient ages.

Many Egiptian Ciganies left Egpyt and moved to different geographies as a result of various historical incidents like military expedition of Alexander the great to the eastern countries. These peoples who were subsisting on various crafts primarily blacksmithing defined themselves as Egiptians in the countries they moved. There are still people who claim to be descendants of ancient Egiptian blacksmith in Balkans. In time, the name Kıpti (Agupti) had a semantic change. People start to use the name Kıpti to define all nomadic or semi-nomadic groups subsisting on various crafts and services with black skin.

It's written in the sources that ancestors of Roma people who came to the Byzantium Empire in 11th century were also defined as Kıpti (Agupti). Ottoman Empire also accepted this identification and all Cigany groups including Roma were identified as Kıpti in the Ottoman records.

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Naming of Roma as Kıpti is a result of semantic change of the name Kıpti. Real coptics are the native population of Egypy and they have their own languages. There is no similarity between Romanes and the Coptic language. The oldest ancestors of Roma migrated from India and Roma have had almost no historical contacts with Egypt in history. Everybody who insist on defending the idea of relation between Roma and the Egiptian Coptics have to find new and strong proofs if they still want to support the idea in a logical context. Otherwise, the claim will be a modern superstition.

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