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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

A word not very dissimilar in sound to Nata


The

tribe in India whose customs, manners, and habits have the greatest resemblance to those of the Gipsies, are the _Nuts_, or _Bazegurs_; an account of which is to be found in the 7th volume of the Asiatic Researches, page 451. In Blackwood's Magazine we find the following paragraph relative to these Nuts, or Bazegurs, which induces a belief that these people are a branch of the Gipsy nation, and a tribe of the highest antiquity. They are even supposed to be the wild, aboriginal inhabitants of India.

"A lady of rank, who has resided some time in India, lately informed me that the Gipsies are to be found there, in the same way as in England, and practise the same arts of posture-making and tumbling, fortune-telling, stealing, and so forth. The Indian Gipsies are called Nuts, or Bazegurs, and they are believed by many to be the remains of an aboriginal race, prior even to the Hindoos, and who have never adopted the worship of Bramah. They are entirely different from the Parias, who are Hindoos that have lost caste, and so become degraded."

The Nuts, or Bazegurs, under the name of Decoits or Dukyts, are, it seems, guilty of frequently sacrificing victims to the goddess Calie, under circumstances of horror and atrocity scarcely credible. Now the old Gipsy, who gave me the particulars relative to the Gipsy sacrifice of the horse, stated that sometimes both woman and horse were sacrificed, when the woman, by the action

of the horse, was found to have greatly offended.

In the ordinances of Menu, the Nuts, or Bazegurs, are called _Nata_. Now, our Scottish Gipsies, at this moment, call themselves _Nawkens_, a word not very dissimilar in sound to _Nata_. When I have spoken to them, in their own words, I have been asked, "Are you a _nawken_?" a word to which they attach the meaning of a _wanderer_, or _traveller_--one who can do any sort of work for himself that may be required in the world.

CHAPTER X.

PRESENT CONDITION AND NUMBER OF THE GIPSIES IN SCOTLAND.

Every author who has written on the subject of the Gipsies has, I believe, represented them as all having remarkably dark hair, black eyes, and swarthy complexions. This notion has been carried to such an extent, that Hume, on the criminal laws of Scotland, thinks the black eyes should make part of the evidence in proving an individual to be of the Gipsy race. The Gipsies, in Scotland, of the last century, were of all complexions, varying from light flaxen hair, and blue eyes, and corresponding complexions, to hair of raven black, dark eyes, and swarthy countenances. Many of them had deep-red and light-yellow hair, with very fair complexions. I am convinced that one-half of the Gipsies in Scotland, at the present day, have blue eyes, instead of black ones. According to the statistical account of the parish of Borthwick, Mid-Lothian, (1839,) the Baillies, Wilsons, and Taits, at Middleton, the descendants of the old Tweed-dale Gipsies, are described as, "in general, of a colour rather cadaverous, or of a darkish pale; their cheek-bones high; their eyes small, and light coloured; their hair of a dingy white or red colour, and wiry; and their skin, drier and of a tougher texture than that of the people of this country." This question of colour has been illustrated in my enquiry into the history of the Gipsy language; for the language is the only satisfactory thing by which to test a Gipsy, let his colour be what it may.


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