Macedonia: Its Races and Their Future
H. Brailsford

IV. The Races of Macedonia

3. Gipsies

Two other races belong to the Turkish group though they neither amalgamate with it, nor entirely share its privileges the gipsies and the Jews. The gipsies are fairly numerous. They occupy separate quarters in the outskirts of all the larger towns. Some are sedentary and follow their traditional trade of blacksmith. Others are grooms and wandering pedlars, and most of them are supposed to add to their legitimate incomes by skilful and judicious horse-thieving. Their colonies are indescribably curious in their squalor and decay, ranging from ruined houses which shake beneath the blows of sledge-hammers, to huts some five feet high, constructed of old petroleum tins eked out with remnants of felt and sacking. They live in public, and their poverty is elementary. But they have the same slight if muscular grace and the same gaiety and ease of mind as in happier and weathier lands. Their religion is variable and opportunist. For the moment in Turkey they are nominal Moslems, but the Turks set small store by their orthodoxy, and realise that if in their wanderings they should cross the Servian or Bulgarian borders, they would straightway embrace Christianity, as the settled gipsies of these new countries now do. Still, their lax profession serves to range them on the side of the dominant race, and in a struggle they would doubtless join the Mohamedan mob of the towns. But they are an element which is


politically and economically negligible, and only their picturesqueness entitles them to mention. On St. George's Day, when they celebrate the coming of summer, and their girls and women, fearless and unveiled, don their brightest jackets and baggiest trousers of yellow, green, and pink, and foot it in procession, with songs and cymbals, to cut fresh boughs from some favoured grove, they add a rare grace and movement to a world of nightmares and panics which knows little of gaiety and much of care and fear.

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