National Geographic : 1922 Jul
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE have a wild beauty and are very jealous of their genealogy. They marry only among their own people. These nomad tribes live away from civ ilization, always wandering, proud and free. They never settle down and their house is the moving "roulotte." lorse dealing is their usual vocation, and they are excellent judges of horseflesh. At least once in their lifetime these raggle-taggle Gypsies, scattered all over Europe, proceed toward this wild section of France to worship a Christian saint, their patron, Saint Sara, the Egyptian. The Gitanos take no interest in the Christian ceremonies. During the pil grimage they remain in the crypt of the church, which is specially reserved for them. There they sit, holding huge wax tapers in their hands, worshiping and singing. No stranger is allowed to be present at their mysterious ceremonies, which are followed by the coronation of the (ypsy king and queen. On the 25th of May in the pilgrim pro cession, the Gitanos are accustomed to carry on their shoulders a little flowered boat containing the wooden statue of Saint Sara, which they crown on the sandy beach, shouting "Vive, Sainte Sara"! Then these nomad tribes leave, to re sume their lonely wanderings. TIIIIR ORIGIN IS A FASCINATING MYSTERY The mysterious origin of this people has ever been a fascinating problem and has also been the favorite study of many scientists and writers, but unfortunately not all the explanatory theories pro pounded are substantiated by scientific data. Some say the Gitanos may be the last survivors of a forgotten Egyptian or Assyrian civilization. Others, struck by certain similarities which they have in common with the Basque people, think they were the first Iberians. Others at tribute to them an Indian origin, picture them driven westward by Oriental irrup tions and identify the Gitan language with that of an Indian tribe of Sindh. But the boldest and most curious the ory is one which has been advanced after careful consideration and numerous o) servations of their customs, language, and ethnical characteristics. According to Gitan legends and tra ditions that have been handed down from father to son and from tribe to tribe, there was a large land without a shore which was inhabited ages ago by the first Gitan people, but which disappeared one day in an overwhelming disaster. Are these legendary lands the lost At lantis? And did any of its inhabitants outlive the cataclysm ? Was this fabulous country the birthplace of the first Basques, Gitans, and American Indians? Marquis de Baroncelli, who has long studied the vexing question, has noted the strange likeness of the ethnical char acteristics of the Red Skin and the Gitan. He has also been much surprised by some customs common to both races, such as the simple action of inspecting the teeth of a horse. He noticed the curious answers to the question, "Whence did your people come?" "From where the sun rises," says the Indian. "From the sunset land," say the Gitanos. These speculations are strengthened by sayings of Gitanos who take part in the pilgrimage to "Li Santo." A snowy-bearded Gypsy patriarch said: "We are to the human race what the Ca margue horse is to his-the sole survivors of a vanished world." O N APRIL 26, MR. A. W . CUTLER, of Rose Hill House, Worcester, England, died in Cava dei Tirreni, southern Italy, while making for the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MIAGAZJNI, a photographic survey of the scenery and peasant types of Calabria. Many of Mr. Cutler's superb photographic studies have appeared in TIIi GEOGRAPIIC during the last nine years, and only a few months ago he completed for it a remarkable collection of pictures in Portugal. He had expected to make similar photographic series in Greece, Mlorocco, and Japan upon the conclusion of his labors in Italy. The members of the National Geographic Society will learn with profound appreciation that this gifted photographic artist has left as a bequest to The Society his entire collection of negatives, the result of a life work in many parts oi the world-a truly notable gift toward the humanizing of geography.