Rosa Taikon

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 countries.

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.

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Rosa Taikon