The artist Rosa Taikon – famous sister of a famous sister, writer
Katarina Taikon – indisputably ranks among the outstanding Roma personalities
who have enriched world culture with their art.
Rosa is known for her silver jewellery. She herself designs and
produces her pieces. Since her first exhibition in 1966, her art has been shown
in prestigious galleries throughout Sweden. Her silver jewellery has been
displayed in group exhibitions, but usually the artist has independent
exhibitions. In addition, her work is a part of permanent exhibitions and
depositories in various museums in Sweden and abroad: in Finland, Norway,
England, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the United States, Australia and other
Rosa Taikon stems from a clan of Kalderaš (cauldron makers). [Roma – Sub Ethnic Groups / Coppersmiths and tinkers] Her
great-great-grandparents probably lived as Gypsy slaves in Moldavia or
Walachia, that is, in a historic part of what is now Romania. When Gypsy
slavery was abolished – in 1855 in Moldavia; in 1856 in Valachia; and then,
definitively, in 1864 – a colossal number of former Roma slaves emigrated,
mainly to Hungary and Russia. [History of the Vlach-Roma]
The memory of the Taikons reaches back to Russia. Rosa's grandfather
produced silver buttons and decorative silver cane handles. He was also a
musician, and his band played in St. Petersburg, in Baku, and in other cities
of Czarist Russia.
When, in 1905, the Russian-Japanese war broke out, all the members
of the Taikon's extended family emigrated to Sweden. There Rosa was born in the
town of Tibro in 1926. She was born in a "Gypsy wagon" because, at that time,
the Roma in Sweden had no possibility of settling in flats.
Rosa's father inherited his father's profession – a tradition that Roma
clans have kept from their Indian country of origin since time immemorial. He
worked with metal, earned a living by playing music and, for a certain time,
even had an amusement park.
Rosa Taikon will tell about her life herself. We had the rare
opportunity of tape-recording a conversation with her when she visited Prague
in May, 2000. Fourth-year students of Romani studies at the Philosophical
Faculty of Charles University took part in an informal meeting with her at the
Swedish embassy in Prague. The interview was conducted in RomaniKalderaš dialect (PDF illustration: "Rosa Taikon").
What can we add to the brief biography of this artist? Perhaps that,
in art school, she met her husband, Bernd Janusch, who was also a silversmith
and together they created a number of pieces of silver jewellery. They did not
grow old together; their marriage fell apart.
Twenty years ago, Rosa's younger sister, the writer Katarina, fell
seriously ill and remained in a coma until her death. Just as her older sister,
Rosa, had watched over her in her childhood, so did she take care of her with
love and self-sacrifice in adulthood.
Apart from her artistic work, Rosa Taikon enthusiastically
participated in political and social activities of the Roma and never stopped
fighting for their rights and the propagation of Roma culture.