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 Mythological beings of Bosnian Roma population

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PostSubject: Mythological beings of Bosnian Roma population   Mon Aug 25, 2014 11:33 am

Mythology is first and foremost a social phenomenon which successfully permeates and connects different religious, magical and geological influences producing absolutely fascinating effect - the created myths have a pronounced social effect since through them the Roma, as a nomadic people, could hold on to their unity but also assimilate more easily in all new locations.

The Roma population in Bosnia are mostly Muslims, but because of their dramatic and unlucky past, especially in Romania where they were treated as slaves for centuries, they kept some segments of Christianity such as celebrating certain Christian holidays such as Saint George's day (May 6th) or Christmas. Even though they have Muslim names and they celebrate both Eid's, the Bosnian Roma don't practice fast during Ramadan claiming that sin doesn't enter through the mouth but exits through them. Mainly, the Roma take from every religion the things that suit them and adjust it to themselves and in their everyday life. That's why in Bosnia there is a saying that "among Roma there is no religion".

Even though by analysing descriptions and activity of good and bad demons one can easily notice a chronic lack of old beliefs which they took with themselves from India, the Roma assimilated all myths from other peoples and enriched them with new and original additions making them part of their culture and identity. Though one gets an impression that, besides the names of mythological beings, there are no other connections with the motherland and its rich spiritual culture, still in some expressions one can hint the old beliefs such as the traditional burning of the dead. Namely, the Roma for the word "burial" use praxosarav, which means - I turn into ashes.

In some myths some specific characteristics of Roma are pronounced which actually reflect the mentality of the people, their habits, fears and thoughts. Belief about javišti, though a mixture of the Bosnian belief about Lampir and Prepasti, it is enriched by one of the biggest fears of ancient Roma prone to stealing, namely, they believed that javišta can warn the owner about the thief, and so make his undertaking dangerous and fruitless. Similarly, constant desire of all nations for gold and riches is deeply rooted in the Roma conscience. According to their belief the easiest way to get gold is through Karankočija but usually because of the lack of modesty, the demon would trick the human and would steal what he brought the first time. Karankočija can usually be seen by older people and through legends a lesson is imposed that man even in his old age cannot triumph over himself, his greed and imprudence.

The mythology of Bosnian Roma relies heavily on traditional legends and myths about various supernatural beings of Bosnia and Herzegovina but also numerous other peoples and cultures. A good example for observing common elements is the most famous demon of all - Karankoči. Besides the similarity in names Karankoči and Karanđoloz, which stem from the Turkish language and signify something black, dark, which alludes to a black physical form or black hat, both demons have identical time of appearance - winter. Karanđoloz always appears in the period of the greatest winter i.e. during zehemerija - January, and usually small disobedient children are frightened by this legend. Classic con of the described demon through transformation of gold is characteristic also of Bosnian legends about the Jinn, the legends say that some people, when they performed the spiritual ritual called daira, were fooled by the Jinn and instead of gold they received coal.

Another example of identical or very similar beliefs is also the demon Aždaha. Namely, Aždaha is among the Bosniaks a mythological creature which most resembles a dragon. Fragments of belief in Aždaha is still present today in practice of soothsayers, which, when analysing various forms of lead, see some sort of dent in the lead or an opening, sets the patients diagnosis with the statement: "something swallowed you as an Aždaha", alluding to the effects of the demon. According to the sayings of old Bosniaks, Aždaha is a demon which lives in dark caves or openings in the ground and attacks and swallows people and animals.

But, we shouldn't disregard the real possibility that the domicile people of an area in Bosnia and Herzegovina, under the influence of the Roma legends used some elements for creating their own. Ušušur, water demon which attacks and drags people under the water, it could have its mythological foundation in the myth about Ledaši or Karakončiju. In favour of this thesis the data that the legend about Ušušur is located in a very narrow area and is not present in a large part of BiH.

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PostSubject: Re: Mythological beings of Bosnian Roma population   Mon Aug 25, 2014 11:40 am

Karakonči

Karakonči is considered as one of the most famous demon of Bosnian Roma. It is stated that he is a "gypsy" since he speaks exclusively using that language. He lives in the water, under the ice, he is short and has a red hat on his head or a dark coloured one which holds all his demon powers. He comes to people during the night in order to keep warm next to the hearth.

Around the description and his function there are a lot of conflicting data, which is a clearly and influence of mythological traditions that the Roma encountered. While it is often mentioned that Karankoči has a red hat on his head, in Vlasenica, Čajnič, Sarajevo and Visoko, the Roma believed that his hat was made out of dirty intestines which is placed over his head. Karakonči has horns which he uses to attack his victims. According to belief, while he is hitting the humans with his horns, they fall of into the water and out if it see walnut is created "šungurja".

While some Roma consider Karakonči as well-intentioned and harmless, others describe him as a demon which calls out to people at night to go out of their house so he can take them to a river and drown them. That's why the claims of Halil Salkanović from Čajnič are closest to a real mythological division:

"Ledaši live under the ice and not Karakonči. He comes among the Roma during the winter and speaks in gypsy language. He is good and won't do you any harm, he likes to play with the children. There are various Karakonči. They are dwarfish. They have dark hats on their heads. If you steal the hat of a Karakonči, he will be obedient and will be your servant. If you wish for a bag of gold he will bring it to you. When you give him back his hat, he farts, and instead of gold you are left with a bag of coal. Šungurja (Trapa natans) are the horns of Karakonči, that herb is good for magic".

There are several names for Karakonči, in Vlasenica they are called Demiri, in Čajniče two names are mentioned Amir and Demir, etc.
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PostSubject: Re: Mythological beings of Bosnian Roma population   Mon Aug 25, 2014 11:41 am

Rukija

Rukija is a female demon which doesn't get old or young, her face is the same as it was 2000 years ago. She hides and lives in a hole under the earth or under large rocks. She is as big as a woodpecker but she can grow and become larger. She is nude. She has a small hat on her head, she asks for bread and money. In another description the following is said; the lower part of her body is white and her upper black, she has a leather belt on her neck with beads. She comes to people at night, in the month of March. She creeps on the ground and feeds on animals but she likes to eat pumpkins. If she sees a man, she can bite. If you give her food or money, she will go away. You cannot kill her. She comes to people at night, she talks to them then. She is very evil and she would strangle humans if she could. At night she uncovers humans and says: "Pay me! If you won't, I'll kill you!" She then laughs and disappears. Rukija fights against Karakonči, she looks for him and wants to kill him since he doesn't want to be with her. She doesn't allow him to be under the ice. She hasn't been sighted since WWII.
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PostSubject: Re: Mythological beings of Bosnian Roma population   Mon Aug 25, 2014 11:41 am

Bilahče

Demon's which play in circles at dusk, usually at crossroads. They play every day, especially on Sundays. They are most dangerous at night, they don't have bones nor flesh, they are just wind that floats in the air. Bilahče are white demons, in white gowns. You cannot see their faces. There are male and female demons among them. Their main demon is called Hadžija. They don't speak any of the languages, not even the Roma one. They are present in houses, water, fields, hay, under the bridge and other places. They love to scare people, when you go, they go, as soon as you stop they stop as well. As soon as the rooster crows, they dissapear. They can cause such a strong gust of wind that can knock a person to the ground and make him sick. They turn into rabbits, birds, cats, dogs, pigs and wolfs and they scare people. A human can go mad out of fear, and can die out of shock. His limbs get stiff and he can't move. The diseased can be cured by an Imam. When a male and female Roma fight, Bilačke brings a rope and throws it between them. Bilahče also kicks with his feet. He allows a human to pick up a haystack, and then he jumps on the haystack, and a person can die from it. Bilahče is often the cause of great headaches. When a headache occurs, the diseased utters: "My head hurts". He needs to add: "May she be eaten by a dog". If a man is struck by the wind (Bilačho) he gets cramps and can go numb out of fear. We then curse and say bad things so we can free him of this state.
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PostSubject: Re: Mythological beings of Bosnian Roma population   Mon Aug 25, 2014 11:42 am

Beng: Beng is a female demon that causes epilepsy among humans. In Zavidovići the Roma believe that when a child is caught by epilepsy one should take off all of his clothes, cut it with a knife and throw it onto the ground, in order for the seizure to stop. In Kozarac it is believed that Beng swears with a goat's leg when he is in trouble.
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PostSubject: Re: Mythological beings of Bosnian Roma population   Mon Aug 25, 2014 11:43 am

Mustakalo (forest spirit, forest rooster): has big eyes and teeth, big moustache and backside. He is as big as a donkey. He resides on a spruce (tree) and when he likes a female he grabs her with his white hands. In Vlasenica it is believed that Mustaklo lingers in forests under large trees. They call him Ušonja or Ušan.
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PostSubject: Re: Mythological beings of Bosnian Roma population   Mon Aug 25, 2014 11:43 am

Xalo (baldy): Roma that live in Rogatica believe that Xalo is a wind (bahval), i.e. a phantom, spirit.

Aždaha: is the same as Xalo, but it has hair on its body.

Prepeljaši: restless spirit, he sits in the dust.
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PostSubject: Re: Mythological beings of Bosnian Roma population   Mon Aug 25, 2014 5:46 pm

JAVIŠTA: a spirit that the Roma are perhaps most scared of. That's why they are reluctant to about it. Javište is a demonic being which has identical characteristics of many beings from Bosnian mythology such as Lampir, Werewolf, Prepasti, Prikaze, Karanđoloz, Mubarećija. Javišta resides in graveyards and is dressed in a white gown. It is believed that she can originate only from a dead person. Specifics of this being is that it produces different sounds which can be sounds of the wind, some animal but also human voice groaning and moaning. Javište appears when a person dies and a cat or dog crosses over his body. It always appears at night, flying over houses and shouting: "There is the thief, he came to steal!". It speaks with a high pitched voice, and it can bark and growl like a dog. Javišta appears in different animal forms but also in the form of the wind, which is considered very dangerous. At night it can climb on a traveller's back, whose weight inhibits the person from walking. To chase it away the person must shout in Bosnian: "Džin baška! Šejtan baška! Nalet je bilo! Idi svojim putem, ko si da si!" It is afraid of fire and runs away from it.
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PostSubject: Re: Mythological beings of Bosnian Roma population   Mon Aug 25, 2014 5:46 pm

ČOXANI: Is a bearded woman i.e. a witch that drinks blood of the children. According to belief the woman is doing it unconsciously, while she is asleep, that's when her soul exits her body and goes towards small children, attacking them and drinking their blood. She doesn't attack grownups. She appears in the form of a butterfly or a bird, sometimes a wolf or a large toad. She is also described as the wind which suddenly jumps on a man's neck or back. As soon as the man starts moving his shoulders he will feel a great weight on himself. She also feeds on shellfish and sometimes attacks chickens and cats. When she is in the form of a butterfly she attacks fire because she wants to take it with herself into the air and set ablaze the gypsy village. A formula uttered in Bosnian is used against her: "U gore, u mora neka ide, u kamenje i stijene, nalet ga bilo!".
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PostSubject: Re: Mythological beings of Bosnian Roma population   Mon Aug 25, 2014 5:46 pm

E phurdako (spirit under the bridge): he is like a small monkey. He rolls around, turning, playing in front of people in human clothes. If a gypsy comes to steal something, he shouts after him: "Look he is stealing!". On a bridge, one can be a victim of an attack by this demon which can paralyse his hand, leg and entire body. That's why Roma people avoid crossing bridges at night.
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PostSubject: Re: Mythological beings of Bosnian Roma population   Mon Aug 25, 2014 5:46 pm

Umaljako (field spirit): a very evil spirit in the form of a cat or a dog. He throws iron over human legs and when a person falls to the ground he jumps on top of him and tries to choke him. When a man is carrying a haystack, the spirit jumps on top of it, and the man has to stop because of the weight. He must stop and sit down. If a man lights a match, Umaljko disappears and the man can continue.
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PostSubject: Re: Mythological beings of Bosnian Roma population   Mon Aug 25, 2014 5:47 pm

Bahvaljko (wind spirit): turns into linen cloth and tries to cover a person with it. It is believed that at night this wind exits out of the dead person and attacks humans which are traveling at that moment. It jumps on their back and rides them until the person crosses over the territory administered by that spirit, the spirit dismounts and runs away. Humans are ill for half a month when attacked by Bahvaljko.
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PostSubject: Re: Mythological beings of Bosnian Roma population   Mon Aug 25, 2014 5:47 pm

Khasehko (spirit inside hay): when a gypsy goes into the field to steal hay and brings it with him, Khasehko sits on top of him and presses him so hard that he is unable to escape. That's why he must throw away half of the hay in order to escape.

Dromehko: If a person has been killed on a road, this demon appears in that spot and scares people.
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PostSubject: Re: Mythological beings of Bosnian Roma population   Mon Aug 25, 2014 5:47 pm

Međaši: demon which is the size of a ten year old, he is green, has a moustache and a beard. He carries a handkerchief on his head. His season is the summer. He appears always at dusk carrying an axe on his shoulder. He can turn into a spruce tree and can fall directly on a human. He tries to harm people by all means. Međaši suck the blood out of people, the bite spot becomes dark. These demons are afraid to cross over water and walk in a ploughed field.
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PostSubject: Re: Mythological beings of Bosnian Roma population   Tue Sep 30, 2014 9:06 pm

Bibija or Bibi (plague) is among the Roma the most important deity and deamon. They also call her Tetka Bibija (Aunt Bibija) since centuries ago she saved them from the plague in Egypt. That's why they chose her for their deity. When they drink the Roma toast: "To Bibija's health! (Ande Bibijako sastipe!). Hasiba Salkanović from Čajnič described her in the following manner: "She is a forest divine woman which resides in large mountains, and great forests. She is tall, taller than humans, clad in a white dress, shining as if made out of gold. She can't walk she levitates. She flies at night so no one can see her. She hides from people. She appears only to honest and noble people. Bibija is a rich and beautiful woman, she doesn't have a husband nor children. She doesn't speak, nor sing, nor drink, nor eat. She enters homes but not the poor ones. When there is a big disease she appears as well and brings death to people. We then say: "Go to big men and big women, and hit them with the disease!" We defend ourselves from her by cutting a dogs, cats or a pigs ear and eating it. Then she can't hurt us. When we see her we say: "I eat your vagina, I eat your penis!"
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