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Dom people

Dom man, art work 1860's, East Bengal, India
Total population
ca. 2,158,400 [1]
Regions with significant populations
Middle east, North Africa
 Egypt 1,080,000 [1]
 Turkey 500,000
 India 202,000[2]
 Afghanistan 100,000
 Iran 80,000[1]
 Iraq 50,000
 Syria 37,000[2]
 Libya 33,000
 Tunisia 30,000
 Algeria 30,000
 Morocco 30,000
 Sudan 20,000–50,000
 Jordan 70,000 [3]
 State of Palestine 7,200[1]
 Lebanon 7,000
 Israel 2,000[2]
 Cyprus 1,200
 Bangladesh 2,000
 Armenia 1,000
 Georgia 1,000
 Azerbaijan 1,000
 Russia 500[2]
 Kuwait 500
Domari, Persian, Arabic (also various dialects), Azeri, Kurdish, Turkish, Pushtu, Syriac, Hebrew, Armenian
Romani religion, Islam, Christianity
Related ethnic groups
Romani people, Lom people, Domba, other Indo-Aryans

The Dom (also called "Doma" and "Domi"; Arabic: دومي‎ / ALA-LC: Dūmī , دومري / Dūmrī ; Egyptian Arabic: هناجره Hanagra ) of the Middle East, North Africa, Caucasus, Central Asia and India are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group. Some authors relate them to the Domba people of India.


  • Culture 1
  • Distribution 2
  • In popular culture 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


They have an oral tradition and express their culture and history through music, poetry and dance. Initially, it was considered that they are a branch of the Romani people, but recent studies of the Domari language suggest that they departed earlier from the Indian subcontinent,[4] probably around the 6th century.[5]

The world-wide used name for Gypsies to identify themselves was the term “Rrom”,[6] which in Romani language means a man. The words Rom, Dom and Lom were used to describe Romani people who split in the 6th century. Several tribes moved forward into Western Europe and were called Rom, while the ones who remained in Persia and Turkey were called Dom.[7]

Among the various Domari subgroups, the Ghawazi are the most famous for their dancing and music. The Ghawazi dancers have been associated with the development of the Egyptian raqs sharqi style which ultimately gave rise to Western schools of belly dance.


The majority of the estimated population of 2.2 million live in Turkey, Egypt and Iran with significant numbers in Iraq. Smaller populations are found in Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Sudan, Jordan, Syria and other countries of the Middle East.

The actual population is unknown as some Dom are excluded from national censuses and others label themselves in national terms rather than as Dom. Nowadays, they speak the dominant languages of their larger societies, but Domari, their national language, continues to be spoken by more insular communities. Iranians called them gurbati or kouli, both meaning "foreigners".

Doms also exist in Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan in small numbers as well as the Chitral, Swat, Kohistan and Ladakh regions of Pakistan and India. In Gilgit, Dom are coupled with the Kameen and Mons, who are also musicians, blacksmith and do similar menial jobs.

There is a large concentration of Dom/Gypsies in Jordan. Researchers claim that, "they accommodate Arab racism by hiding their ethnic identity," as they would not be accepted into Arabian society once their true identity is revealed.[8] Another group of Dom origin in Iran are the Lori, who are found in the Baloch regions of southeast Iran.

In popular culture

The Iranian singer Googoosh made a song "Koeli", where she mentions the Dom people, the gypsies of Iran.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Thomas A. Acton; Donald Kenrick; Allen Williams (May 2005). "Dom Population Chart". DOM Research Centre – Middle East and North Africa Gypsy Studies. Dom Research Center. Retrieved 26 December 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d BOERGER, Brenda H. (2009–2012). Lewis, M. Paul, ed. "Domari A language of Iran". Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. SIL International (formerly known as the Summer Institute of Linguistics). Retrieved 26 December 2012. 
  3. ^ Luck, Taylor (July 5, 2015) Jordan's scorned gypsies, the Dom, say it's time to demand their rights. CSMonitor
  4. ^ Professor Yaron Matras (December 2012). "Domari". [romani] project. School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures The University of Manchester. Retrieved 26 December 2012. 
  5. ^ Ian Hancock (2007–2008). "ON ROMANI ORIGINS AND IDENTITY". RADOC. RADOC The Romani Archives and Documentation Center The University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved 26 December 2012. 
  6. ^ Roma people in Croatia.
  7. ^ Donald Kenrick (2004). Gypsies: From the Ganges to the Thames. Univ of Hertfordshire Press. pp. 24–.  
  8. ^ Marsh, Adrian & Strand, Elin (red.) (2006). Gypsies and the problem of identities: contextual, constructed and contested. Istanbul: Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul (Svenska forskningsinstitutet i Istanbul), p. 207

External links

  • Dom Research Center
  • "The Gypsies of Jerusalem: the Forgotten People" By Amoun Sleem
  • Domari The society of Gypsies in Jerusalem
  • "The Gypsy People of Israel, Gaza & the West Bank" by Valery Novoselsky
  • "Evolving, educating: Israel's Gypsy community" by Roi Mandel
  • "The Dom People and their Children in Lebanon" by Terre des Hommes
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