Handľara

Handľara (R., pl.). At the beginning of the twentieth century, a new profession arose among the settled Servika Roma of eastern Slovakia: pig trading. This profession became much more important after the founding of the Czechoslovak Republic, when there was a great rush of economic ties between Slovakia and the Czech lands. Traders walked from region to region, bought up pigs from the farmers and took them to Prešov. From there, agents of Czech firms took them to Prague and other Czech cities.

Roma – or, more precisely, several families from the environs of Prešov - had, to a large extent, a monopoly on the pig trade. Capital for the establishment of the business of pig trading came predominantly from Roma workers in America who had emigrated with Slovaks at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries. In contrast with Slovaks, Roma often returned to their relatives.

Most of the pig traders got rich. Their material worth and status – as could be seen by their brick-walled homes, trucks, etc. – exceeded that of Slovak villagers. Some families were also poultry merchants.

In southern Slovakia, Roma traded in fruits and vegetables: They bought melons, paprika, etc. from Hungarian farmers and sold them in towns.

Horse trading was nearly exclusively the domain of Vlachi Roma.

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