GYPSY. Gypsies are generally referred to by the term kowli in Persian, seemingly a distortion of kāboli, i.e., coming from Kabol, the capital of Afghanistan. It is not at all certain, however, that all the groups referred to as kowli are authentic gypsies; nor that only the groups referred to as kowli should be considered as gypsies. The fact is that almost everywhere in Persia there are groups with characteristics similar to those of the Gypsies, but they are called by different names, sometimes designating their geographic or ethnic origin, sometimes their social status, and sometimes their profession. This entry will be treated in two sections:

i. Gypsies of Persia.

ii. Gypsy Dialects.

(Jean-Pierre Digard, Gernot L. Windfuhr)

Originally Published: December 15, 2002

Last Updated: February 24, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. XI, Fasc. 4, pp. 412-421