|"Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey" by Isabel Fonseca
||[Feb. 9th, 2007|11:21 am]
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"Her real name was Bronislawa Wajs, but she is known by her Gypsy name, Papusza: 'Doll.' Papusza was one of the greatest Gypsy singers and poets ever and, for a while, one of the most celebrated. She lived all her life in Poland, and when she died in 1987 nobody noticed.
Like most Polish Gypsies, Papusza's family was nomadic-part of a great kumpania, or band of families, traveling with horses and in caravans, with the men at the front and the women and children following behind in open carts. Some of the richer families had elaborately carved hard-top caravans with narrow glass windows, sometimes diamond-shaped and set in painted wood frames. There might be as many as twenty caravans in the kumpania. Men, women, children, horses, carts, dogs: until the mid 1960s they moved along, down from Vilnius, through the eastern forests of Volhynia (where thousands of Polish Gypsies waited out the war), crossing into the Tatra mountains in the south. On the road, the silhouette of the Polska Roma would sometimes include the shape of bears, their living, dancing livelihood. But Papusza's people were harpists, and from the northern Lithuanian towns to the eastern Tatras they hauled the great stringed instruments, upright over the wagons like sails."