The art of reading palms has been passed down through generations of Rom. Palmistry, also known as Chiromancy meaning “hand-divination” in Greek, originally comes from the Far East. The Rom, who originally came out of Northwest India, likely learned the art while in either India or Persia and have since helped to bring it over to Western Europe. A National Geographic journalist named Bart McDowell followed the Gypsy’s trek from India to England with Gypsy Cliff Lee, and while in Iran, the similarities concerning palm reading were strong. The Romany word for fortune-telling, dukkeripen, came from Persia, and today, many still practice the art of fortune-telling. Cliff Lee muses in McDowell’s book Gypsies: Wanderers of the World (1970) whether “the Persians taught us dukkeripen” and states “there are things about dukkeripen that we cannot explain.”[1] Palm reading has long been looked at with fascination by many Gaje (non-Gypsies), and according to Marlene Sway in her article “Gypsies as a Perpetual Minority: A Case Study”, the Rom used various forms of fortune-telling to contribute “to their aura of mystique.”[2] It also linked them to witchcraft and black magic, contributing to their troubles with the Church.[3] Some Rom, such as an aged sorceress in Greece known as the ababina, must deny their connection to sorcery because it gets them in trouble with the powerful church, even today.[4] However, there are still Gaje who flock to fortune-tellers, and the aura of mystique is still present.

[1] Bart McDowell, Gypsies: Wanderers of the World (Washington: National Geographic Society, 1970), 161-162.

[2] Marlene Sway, “Gypsies as a Perpetual Minority: A Case Study,” Humboldt Journal of Social Relations 3 (1975): 48, accessed March 2, 2016,

[3] Sway, “Gypsies as a Perpetual Minority: A Case Study,” 49.

[4] McDowell, Gypsies: Wanderers of the World, 126.

Here is an image I found that gives a basic guide to palm reading so that you too can learn to read palms!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s