Nawar people

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Nawar people
Domari, Arabic, Aramaic, Kurdish, Berber, Turkish, Hebrew
Islam, Christianity, Romani religion
Related ethnic groups
Dom people, Roma people, Kawliya
Not to be confused with Newar people.

The Nawar (Gypsie/Roma people) constitute a minor ethnic group in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and are also to be found in Jerusalem, Gaza, the West Bank, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Sudan. They are a subgroup of the itinerant Dom people. The word "Nawar" is also used as a blanket term applied indifferently to non‑Dom population groups sharing a nomadic lifestyle and similar social status, such as nomadic Kurds and Turkmen population groups, though it is never applied to nomadic Arab Bedouin groups.[1]

This numerically small, widely dispersed people have migrated to the region from South Asia, particularly from India, in Byzantine times. As in other countries, they tend to keep apart from the rest of the population, which regards them as dishonorable yet clever. The Roma have traditionally provided musical entertainment at weddings and celebrations. The participation of Roma women in such activities is lucrative, yet at the same time it reinforces the group's low status. Roma also appear at festivals to work their trade as fortune-tellers, sorcerers, and animal trainers. In Syria today, one may still encounter Nawar encampments in rural areas.

Their language is known as Nawari, classified as a dialect of the Domari language.


  1. ^ Dupret, Ghazzal, Courbage and Al Dbiyat, Collective 'La Syrie au présent : Reflets d'une société', entry "Musiques nawar entre tradition et modernité" by Benoit Gazzal, 2007, ISBN 978-2742768523