Beng, m. devil, from Sanskrit "vyanga" – 1. spotted, 2. frog.

Among the Slovak Roma, Beng does not have a specific role as, for example, among (Argentine) Kalderaš, where he is the negative, but equal, partner of God (Devel). This is probably due to the influence of Russian folk (Bogomilsky) dualism. The Roma must have come into contact with the culture of the Kalderaš when, after the abolition of Roma slavery in Moldavia (1855) and Wallachia (1856), they emigrated to Russia, where they stayed for several generations.

For Slovak Roma, beng is an evil force, but it is far from clearly defined, as compared with, for example, a bosorka, a čohaňi (witch), a mamuna (nightmare), and other supernatural forces and beings. In fairy-tales, beng often appears as a simpleton whom a clever Rom manages to outwit. The dim-witted devil plays a similar role in Slovak and Czech tales.

The word beng is used in a precise sense for a bad person and also for a naughty child. In that case, the diminutive bengoro is used.

All evil forces are called by the simple taboo word bižužo (unclean). Certain unclean animals can also be called bižužo. Žamba (frog) and sap (snake) are at the head of the list.

For more information, see entry De(ve)l.


Bernal, Fernández J. M. (1995) Šav le Jonisko. Sar kerdžili i lumja In: Romano džaniben 4, pp. 42-45.
Turner, Ralph L. (1966) A Comparative Dictionary of Indo-Aryan Languages. London.
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