The Romani Folklore music caught my attention for the 4th poem. Music seems to have a profound effect on both the Romani culture and people in many stories. There seems to be an abundant amount of references to the music through many of Ian Hancock’s poems in “The Roads of the Roma.” These references create an effect many poems by either adding to overall tone. Folklore music seems to reference the everlasting culture of the Roma. It seems to provide a message that Romani people enjoy keeping their culture alive through their music. It provides entertainment as well as value to their culture which can be passed from century to century. The beats and melodies are either slow or happy depending on the mood of the entertainers. Happy music is usually accompanied by dancers, wooden spoons, and a variety of instruments which create the overall rhythm of the music. The violin, piano, strings, panfluete, double bass, and clarinet are only a few examples of the various instruments incorporated into Romani based music. Hand clapping incorporates almost all of the surrounding people in order to create a warm atmosphere. Roma from all over the world bring different kinds of folklore music and make it represent the general culture. I chose to write my poem about Romani folklore because music is an excellent way to not only bring people together, but to also distinguish your culture. Everyone likes different kinds of music which can be related to culture or the environment you were brought up in. Music creates a sense of freedom yet belonging producing a positive effect. It is a form of art which will never die because of the joy it brings to so many people. Music helps show a cultures unique experience and had melodies which help define the culture.
As said by Ian Hancock in “We are the Romani people,” “Proverbs and maxims also abound- it is through these that wisdom is codifies, and the rules of social behaviour are passed fro generation to generation. They are called garada lava or “hidden words,” in Romani because their meaning is not always apparent.”(145) These proverbs seem to be a kind of code to reference specific details or events in Romani culture. These proverbs may not seem like a great deal, but each one has a hidden meaning behind it. These sayings have helped promote a greater worldview on Romani’s because their proverbs have been passed on from generation to generation. Most of these have a cultural or spiritual meaning to Romani individuals and have been interpreted into English. The meaning behind these proverbs is more meaningful and in depth than we realize at first glance. The ideas of these proverbs are intended to last forever and influence everyone.
The proverb I am choosing to write my poem on is “The rain may come tomorrow, but the wind will dry it.”(Hancock, Ian, 147) This saying caught my eye because it provides an optimistic view on life. It means that a ray of sunshine will always come through the clouds and that there is always a silver lining ahead. Every dark cloud has a silver lining that will eventually show. Times may get hard and discourage you, however there is always something to look forward to in the future. I can see this proverb relating back to Romani culture since they have always had a hard time becoming a part of society. This proverb promotes hopefulness and assurance that thins will get better in time.
Hancock, Ian. We are the Romani people. Great Britain: University of Hertfordshire Press, 2002. Print.
“Dried Tear” painted by Lita Cabellut
The piece of Romani art that I have chosen to analyze is called “Dried Tear” by Lita Cabellut. This painting shows an image of a saddened looking girl. This artist expresses her emotions through the dark and gloomy color scheme that fills the canvas. The color scheme has a powerful and noticeable effect on the tone of the painting, creating a sense of tension and longing. The girl in the painting seems to express sorrow through her pale and fragile figure. Her eyelashes are lined with pink and her lips with black showing the audience something about her character. These alterations to her face make it seem as if she is pretending to be another person. That she is trying to alter her identity as if she is trapped. This woman is seeking freedom from judgement, freedom from herself, a sense of belonging. The painting in the background has vibrant and warm color scheme which contrasts with the girl. The painting has blotches of paint that have been scattered compared to her consistent use of brushstrokes everywhere else. It brightens the canvas but is not the first thing that catches your eye. Lita Cabellut uses her artistic principles to capture the audiences attention and prove a point. She is enforcing the concept of individuality and reality. It makes a statement about subjectivism and the want to be whole. The red marks on her skin create the impression that this woman is cracked, that her emotions are scattered. She looks hopeless and in despair.
The name of the painting “dried tear” symbolizes that the misery and despair needs to come to an end. One day she will have to wakeup and face reality. Subjectivism and judgement will never come to end but instead of hiding from it,you have to face it.
The poem that I chose to analyze was “Give Me A String to Play On” by Djura Makhotin translated from Romani by Donald Kenrick and Valdemar Kalinin. My interpretation of this poem is that it starts off hopeless and lost but translates to hopeful and grateful in the end. Djura is talking about how the years seem to pass by but it is important to live in the present, not in the past and not in the future. The world is yours now and it is up to you what you do with it. Djura is saying that he is walking down a road, not looking back, only looking at what is affecting him here and now. Roma are incorporated into the poem through the line “The Roma travel under the sky to seek a deeper peace,” (Djura Makhotin.) (69.) This “deeper piece” seems to speak to me as longing, yearning. THey want to be part of society and will continue moving towards their goals. Yesterday is behind them and tomorrow is before them. Through few words or lines, you can tell a lot about a poem. It goes straight to the point but also makes you guess. The nature of this poem develops from stanza to stanza. Djjura makes it very clear that he is anything but sad with moving forward with his life. “Today the sun is golden” represents happiness and hopefulness towards the days to come. This poem reached out to me since it talks about life. I interpreted this poem in a positive way leading from doubt at the beginning to hopefulness at the end. Years may pass by but it is important to live in the moment and not take anything for granted. A “string” represents music which also represents happiness. A string cannot be broken.
Makhotin, Djura. “Give me a string to play on.” The Roads of the Roma: a PEN anthology of Gypsy writers. (Etd: Ian Hancock, Siobhan Dowd, and Rajko Djuric.) University of Hertfordshire Press: Hatfield, 1998. 69. Print.
Jut like the sexualization of women in Romani culture, Romani men are constantly being depicted as criminals with violent behavior. The film King of Gypsies is about a group the lives of New York based gypsies and the criminal activities that they fulfill. In one scene, the gypsy king decides to hand down his ranking to his grandson, Dave, since he is dying. Daves father becomes humiliated by the fact that he was not handed the position of being killed and sends to have his own son sentenced to death. This specific scene enhances the steretype of gypsies being violent since a man even has the audacity to try and kill his own son. ‘Gypsy Mafia, Romani Saints: The Racial Profiling of Romani Americans’ by Ian Hancock states, “While an individual must be judged on the nature of his offense, he cannot pay a price for being what he is, though it is abundantly clear that in the United States today, as in 18th century England, simply being a Gypsy is enough to brand a person as a lawbreaker.” The characters in this film are necessarily Gypsy and depict all the steretoypes associated with violence. Notice how there aren’t Gypsy women asserting violent behavior. The film industry has gone way over the top with teaching men to be “macho and tough” and to not show emotions. Many children watch T.V and learn from these horrible examples. It is a shame to watch society turn into a gender and racially stereotyped world created by the examples that we see on television. As Said in the ‘Tough Guise Video,’ If a man does not appear to be macho or tough, he is called degrading words such as wimp or which. Media is basically promoting the act of violence by men and it needs to be changed now.
Hancock, Ian. Danger! Educated Gypsy! An Anthology of Essays by Ian Hancock: “Gypsy Mafia, Romani Saints: The Racial Profiling of Romani Americans.” Nottingham: Five Leaves Publication, 2007.
Katz, Jackson, dir. “Tough Guise.” Violence, Media, and the Crisis in Masculinity. N.d. Television.
Mulvey’s article discusses the patriarchal view of women and how this influences our contemporary society as a whole. Laura Mulvey quotes, “In a world ordered by sexual imbalance, pleasure in looking has been split between active/male and passive/female.” This quote is basically saying that women are used for a pleasurable appearance intended for a male crowd. The picture that I chose is of Esmerelda from Hunchback of Notredamn. In this clip she is winking at the camera, intended for the male audience. Esmerelda is clearly a gypsy and performs the typical sexualized stereotype of gypsies to her audience. This helps support Mulvey’s argument about the men gaze and how women are seen as pleasurable objects to men. Laura Mulvey quotes, “the determining male gaze projects its phantasy on to the female form which is styled accordingly. In their traditional exhibitionist role women are simultaneously looked at and displayed, with their appearance coded for strong, visual, and erotic, impact so that they can be said to connote to-be-looked-at-ness.” In this particular picture that I chose, Esmerelda is winking at a man in the crowd after she performs what is known to be a sexual split. Her short pole dance seen comes immediately after which is followed by the jaw dropping and eye popping gaze from men. One soldier even adjusts his helmet in order to be able to see Esmerelda better. Her sexual dance excites the male crowd supporting the argument of Mulvey that a women’s role in cinema is be looked at while a mens role is to look. Women are always the object being displayed which obscures their role and degrades them in society. It is interesting how even in Disney movies, these stereotypes are being displayed leading children to follow these examples and make assumptions about the role of women.
Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Film Theory and Criticism : Introductory Readings. Eds. Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen. New York:Oxford UP, 1999: 833-44. 13 February 2014.
The film and television industry have a recognizable pattern of singling out members of marginalized groups. The Smurfette Principle is basically defined as the tendency of a single female character to exist in a film among a variety of males. In almost all films, males tend to be the main character with the presence of a single female. For example, the video, “#3 The Smurfette Principle,” provides examples of movies and T.V shows which have a group of main male characters with the existence of a single female character such as, Winnie The Pooh, Inception, Big Bang Theory, and many more. The video also states, “Unless a show is purposefully aimed at a female viewing audience, the main characters will tend to be disproportionately male.” The Smurfette Principle poses a problem because it show society that there is a lack of gender equality. This depicts women as inferior to men. Another disproportionate principle in the film industry is Tokenism. Tokenism is the attempt to include as least one character from a from a “marginalized group.” This can be one gay man in a group of straight guys or one single black man in a group of white men. “This is the attempt for the film industry to appear multicultural,” says the “The Smurfette Principle” video. The single marginalized characters seem to be stereotyped in these movies and T.V shows. These principles are problematic especially when it comes to children’s films and T.V. Children look up to these shows that they watch. It is showing them that the stereotypes towards these certain races and gender are true and that they should be enforced. The film industry needs to improve their stereotypical behavior by adding more of a variety of characters from both different genders and different races. This would insure equality among all.