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The court of the Bayash: Revising a theory


We attempt to nuance the theory that the Gypsy Court is practiced only by Romani-speaking peoples, showing that the memory of this institution and certain elements are still present today among the Bayash of Hungary, western Serbia and northern Croatia. We base our study on recent ethnological and anthropological field studies that we carried out in the regions of Medjimurje (Croatia) and Bačka (Serbia), and on written sources of the Bayash from Hungary. Additionally, we discuss older Romanian ethnographic accounts of the rudiments of the juridical system of the Rudari from southern Romania, which were apparently overlooked by researchers attempting to clarify the mechanisms behind the existence or preservation of this institution among different Gypsy groups.