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Karderárs of the Eastern Carpathians

Photographs by Ferenc Tobak



Please do not copy any of the images. 

If you are interested in purchasing a photograph, 

or if you think someone might be interested in hosting an exhibition, please have them contact me directly.


Near the village of Rekecsin

The picture was made in the late afternoon; the women had come home after collecting food in Rekecsin, a nearby village. In the camp it is the woman’s job to care for the children; you can see how proud they are of them.    The child on the right was a little scared of the camera – notice the finger of the other girl! 


Between Two Villages

Three Gypsy girls were hitch-hiking on the dirt road and I stopped to give them a ride to the next village.  During the trip I found out they are from the Gypsy tribe by the river where I had visited the day before.  They are not wearing regular Gypsy clothing, maybe they wanted to blend in better.  They are between 14 and 16 years old and all married.  Gypsies who live the traditional life style marry their children young – girls when they are as young as 12, boys when they are around 14.  They live with their families; they don’t have separate households.  As we were driving, we passed through a forest of beech trees with beautiful autumn colors and mellow light.  I asked the girls if it was ok for me to photograph them there.  They agreed; you can see the result. 


The Tinker’s Daughter

I was driving on a dusty, bumpy road, traveling to a remote village for my bagpipe research.  I saw this young Gypsy girl in her colorful clothing just smiling at me with her hammer, which I think was from her father.  She was so natural and picturesque, I was compelled to stop the car to take a few shots.  I did not even talk with her and what you see here I took while I was still sitting in the car. It was a magical moment for me. After I had taken three shots I got out of the car and she lead me to the two tents by a stream where her family was living at the time. 

Daughters of the Smith

The two sisters, the younger girl still holding her father’s hammer with which she lured me to the camp.  Their hair is braided, the style traditional for Gypsy women; the younger one has red ribbon braided in to protect her from curses.


Berán Bá

This old Karderár Gypsy is proudly showing his work.  In the distance you can see his tent and dog.  The pots are made out of scrap metal collected in the villages – no two pots have the same shape or color!  They use every piece of metal they can find to make their pots; nothing goes to waste.


Six Girls From the River

I had been heading to Ploszkucén to visit two old bagpipers when I located a Gypsy camp on a hilltop.  I went to the camp to meet the people there and arrange for a later video taping.   It was around noon when the girls came up from the river where they had been playing all morning.  As they approached me they saw the camera pointing toward them.  Spontaneously they stopped walking and lined up.  You can see so many emotions on their faces!

Family by the Szeret River

This family is part of a larger Gypsy camp of 10 tents; you can see all the generations together.  The kids don’t attend school regularly, and there is no ‘retirement pension’ for them when they get old.  They take care of each other.  If the men don’t have enough smith work, they collect scrap metal in the villages which they later sell in the city recycling facility, earning them a little extra money.  The women collect walnuts from roadside trees to have for the winter.


In Color

A Gypsy woman sitting inside her tent.  She is in full color – the lemon color in her skirt is a newer fashion than the more traditional red-based patterns. 


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