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{{Other uses}}{{redirect|Nomadic|other uses|nomadic (disambiguation)}}{{redirect|Nomadic people|the journal|Nomadic People (journal)}}{{Economic anthropology}}File:Encampment of Gypsies with Caravans.jpg|alt=|thumb|NomadNomadA nomad ( "people without fixed habitation")English dictionaries agree that the word came from French in the 16th century but incorrectly claim that the French word referred to pasturing. (See the American Heritage Dictionary and the Digitized Treasury of the French Language (in French). The meanings of the Latin and Greek predecessors are irrelevant and in fact misleading for the meaning of the English word.){{dubious-inline|date=September 2019}} is a member of a community of people without fixed habitation who regularly move to and from the same areas, including nomadic hunter-gatherers, pastoral nomads (owning livestock), and tinker or trader nomads.Columbia Electronic EncyclopediaEncyclopaedia BritannicaAs of 1995, there were an estimated 30–40 million nomads in the world.JOURNAL, April 5, 1995, Nomads: At the Crossroads – The Facts, New Internationalist, 266,weblink Nomadic hunting and gathering, following seasonally available wild plants and game, is by far the oldest human subsistence method. WEB,weblink Subsistence,, 2019-02-24, Pastoralists raise herds, driving them, or moving with them, as if with an Apuzzo, in patterns that normally avoid depleting pastures beyond their ability to recover.{{citation needed|date=January 2018}}Nomadism is also a lifestyle adapted to infertile regions such as steppe, tundra, or ice and sand, where mobility is the most efficient strategy for exploiting scarce resources. For example, many groups in the tundra are reindeer herders and are semi-nomadic, following forage for their animals.Sometimes also described as "nomadic" are the various itinerant populations who move about in densely populated areas living not on natural resources, but by offering services (craft or trade) to the resident population. These groups are known as "peripatetic nomads".WEB, Teichmann, Michael, ROMBASE: Didactically edited information on Roma,weblink 2014-04-20,weblink" title="">weblink 2014-04-21, yes, BOOK, Rao, Aparna, The concept of peripatetics: An introduction, 1987, Bohlau Verlag, Cologne, 1–32,weblink

Common characteristics

(File:Hungarian Gypsy Mother and Child NGM-v31-p563.jpg|thumb| Romani mother and child)File:Nomads on the Changtang, Ladakh.jpg|thumb| Nomads on the Changtang, LadakhLadakh(File:Rider in Mongolia, 2012.jpg|thumb|left| Rider in Mongolia, 2012. While nomadic life is less common in modern times, the horse remains a national symbol in Mongolia.)File:Bedscha.jpg|thumb|upright=1.15|left| Beja nomads from Northeast AfricaNortheast AfricaFile:Nomadic hunter woman.jpg|thumb| A woman from the Afshar clan on the edge of the Khabr National Park in southeastern IranIranA nomad is a person with no settled home, moving from place to place as a way of obtaining food, finding pasture for livestock, or otherwise making a living. The word "nomad" comes ultimately from the classical Greek word νομάς (nomás, "roaming, wandering, especially to find pasture"), from Ancient Greek νομός (nomós, "pasture"). Most nomadic groups follow a fixed annual or seasonal pattern of movements and settlements. Nomadic peoples traditionally travel by animal or canoe or on foot. Today, some nomads travel by motor vehicle. Most{{quantify|date=June 2019}} nomads live in tents or other portable shelters.Nomads keep moving for different reasons. Nomadic foragers move in search of game, edible plants, and water. Australian Aborigines, Negritos of Southeast Asia, and San of Africa, for example, traditionally move from camp to camp to hunt and gather wild plants. Some tribes of the Americas followed this way of life. Pastoral nomads make their living raising livestock such as camels, cattle, goats, horses, sheep or yaks; the Gaddi tribe of Himachal Pradesh in India is one such tribe. These nomads travel to find more camels, goats and sheep{{cn|date=June 2019}} through the deserts of Arabia and northern Africa. The Fulani and their cattle travel through the grasslands of Niger in western Africa. Some nomadic peoples, especially herders, may also move to raid settled communities or to avoid enemies. Nomadic craftworkers and merchants travel to find and serve customers. They include the Lohar blacksmiths of India, the Romani traders, and the Irish Travellers.Most nomads travel in groups of families, bands or tribes. These groups are based on kinship and marriage ties or on formal agreements of cooperation. A council of adult males makes most of the decisions, though some tribes have chiefs.In the case of Mongolian nomads, a family moves twice a year. These two movements generally occur during the summer and winter. The winter destination is usually located near mountains in a valley and most families already have fixed winter locations. Their winter locations have shelter for animals and are not used by other families while they are out. In the summer they move to a more open area that the animals can graze. Most nomads usually move in the same region and don't travel very far to a totally different region. Since they usually circle around a large area, communities form and families generally know where the other ones are. Often, families do not have the resources to move from one province to another unless they are moving out of the area permanently. A family can move on its own or with others; if it moves alone, they are usually no more than a couple of kilometers from each other. Nowadays there are no tribes and decisions are made among family members, although elders consult with each other on usual matters. The geographical closeness of families is usually for mutual support. Pastoral nomad societies usually do not have large population. One such society, the Mongols, gave rise to the largest land empire in history. The Mongols originally consisted of loosely organized nomadic tribes in Mongolia, Manchuria, and Siberia. In the late 12th century, Genghis Khan united them and other nomadic tribes to found the Mongol Empire, which eventually stretched the length of Asia.The nomadic way of life has become increasingly rare. Many governments dislike nomads because it is difficult to control their movement and to obtain taxes from them. Nomadic migration across international boundaries confuses capital-city bureaucrats. Many countries have converted pastures into cropland and forced nomadic peoples into permanent settlements.Although (or because) "[t]he sedentary man envies the nomadic existence, the quest for green pastures [...]"BOOK
, Adorno
, Theodor W.
, Theodor W. Adorno
, Jephcott
, E. F. N.
, 1951
, Princess Lizard
, Prinzessin Eidechse
, Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life
, London
, Verso
, 1978
, 170
, 9780860917045
, 12 June 2019
, The sedentary man envies the nomadic existence, the quest for green pastures, and the painted waggon is the house on wheels whose course follows the stars.
, sedentarist prejudice against nomads, "shiftless" "gypsies", "rootless cosmopolitans", "primitive" hunter-gatherers, refugees and urban homeless street-people persists.


File:BushmenSan.jpg|thumb|Starting fire by hand. San peopleSan peopleNomads (also known as foragers) move from campsite to campsite, following game and wild fruits and vegetables. Hunting and gathering describes early people's subsistence living style.Following the development of agriculture, most hunter-gatherers were eventually either displaced or converted to farming or pastoralist groups. Only a few contemporary societies are classified as hunter-gatherers; and some of these supplement, sometimes extensively, their foraging activity with farming or keeping animals.


File:Radzivill Chronicle Cumans.jpg|thumb|upright=1.15|Cuman nomads, Radziwiłł ChronicleRadziwiłł ChronicleFile:Ghilzai nomads in Afghanistan.jpg|thumb|upright=1.15|An 1848 Lithograph showing nomads in AfghanistanAfghanistanFile:Gurvger.jpg|thumb|upright=1.15|A yurt in front of the Gurvan Saikhan Mountains. Approximately 30% of the MongoliaMongoliaFile:Saami Family 1900.jpg|thumb|upright=1.15|A Sami (Lapp) family in Norway around 1900. Reindeer have been herded for centuries by several Arctic and Subarctic people including the Sami and the (Nenets people|Nenets]].NEWS,weblink Your pictures: Ed Vallance, BBC News – In Pictures, 29 April 2015, 2008-09-23, )Pastoral nomads are nomads moving between pastures. Nomadic pastoralism is thought to have developed in three stages that accompanied population growth and an increase in the complexity of social organization. Karim Sadr has proposed the following stagesWEB,weblink The Development of Nomadism in Ancient Northeast Africa Karim Sadr [Book Review], Yee, Danny, 1991, :
  • Pastoralism: This is a mixed economy with a symbiosis within the family.
  • Agropastoralism: This is when symbiosis is between segments or clans within an ethnic group.
  • True Nomadism: This is when symbiosis is at the regional level, generally between specialised nomadic and agricultural populations.
The pastoralists are sedentary to a certain area, as they move between the permanent spring, summer, autumn and winter (or dry and wet season) pastures for their livestock. The nomads moved depending on the availability of resources.Nomads of the Middle East {{Webarchive|url= |date=2009-04-28 }}, David Zeidan, OM-IRC, 1995


Nomadic pastoralism seems to have developed as a part of the secondary products revolution proposed by Andrew Sherratt, in which early pre-pottery Neolithic cultures that had used animals as live meat ("on the hoof") also began using animals for their secondary products, for example, milk and its associated dairy products, wool and other animal hair, hides and consequently leather, manure for fuel and fertilizer, and traction.{{Citation needed|date=January 2018}}The first nomadic pastoral society developed in the period from 8,500–6,500 BCE in the area of the southern Levant.{{Citation needed|date=September 2011}} There, during a period of increasing aridity, Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) cultures in the Sinai were replaced by a nomadic, pastoral pottery-using culture, which seems to have been a cultural fusion between a newly arrived Mesolithic people from Egypt (the Harifian culture), adopting their nomadic hunting lifestyle to the raising of stock.Patterns of Subsistence: PastoralismThis lifestyle quickly developed into what Jaris Yurins has called the circum-Arabian nomadic pastoral techno-complex and is possibly associated with the appearance of Semitic languages in the region of the Ancient Near East. The rapid spread of such nomadic pastoralism was typical of such later developments as of the Yamnaya culture of the horse and cattle nomads of the Eurasian steppe, or of the Mongol spread of the later Middle Ages.Trekboer in southern Africa adopted nomadism from the 17th century.BOOK, Fouché, Leo, 1936, V: Foundation of the Cape Colony, 1652–1708, Walker, Eric Anderson, Eric A. Walker (historian), The Cambridge History of the British Empire,weblink VIII: South Africa, Rhodesia and the Protectorates, Cambridge, CUP Archive, 1963, 136, 2016-11-16, [...] van der Stel recognised the roving tendency among the colonists and tried to arrest it. A proclamation of 1692 illustrated his fears: it stated that colonists were making a living by grazing cattle and bartering in the interior [...]. This seems clear proof that the trekboer, as a distinct type, was coming into existence during the time of van der Stel. [...] Generation after generation of these hardy and self-reliant nomads pushed the frontiers of civilisation further into the wilderness.,

Increase in post-Soviet Central Asia

One of the results of the break-up of the Soviet Union and the subsequent political independence and economic collapse of its Central Asian republics has been the resurgence of pastoral nomadism.Pastoral Livestock Development in Central Asia, FAO Rural Development Division Taking the Kyrgyz people as a representative example, nomadism was the centre of their economy before Russian colonization at the turn of the 20th century, when they were settled into agricultural villages. The population became increasingly urbanized after World War II, but some people still take their herds of horses and cows to high pastures (jailoo) every summer, continuing a pattern of transhumance.{{Citation needed|date=January 2018}}Since the 1990s, as the cash economy shrank, unemployed relatives were reabsorbed into family farms, and the importance of this form of nomadism has increased.{{Citation needed|date=January 2018}} The symbols of nomadism, specifically the crown of the grey felt tent known as the yurt, appears on the national flag, emphasizing the central importance of nomadism in the genesis of the modern nation of Kyrgyzstan.{{Citation needed|date=January 2018}}


{{See also|Sedentism}}From 1920 to 2008, population of nomadic pastoral tribes slowly decreased from over a quarter of Iran's population.JOURNAL, Annamoradnejad, Rahimberdi, Lotfi, Sedigheh, Demographic changes of nomadic communities in Iran (1956–2008), Asian Population Studies, 6, 3, 335–45, 10.1080/17441730.2010.512764, 2010, WEB,weblink Persian & Iranian Nomads at Best Iran, 29 April 2015, Tribal pastures were nationalized during the 1960s. The National Commission of UNESCO registered the population of Iran at 21 million in 1963, of whom two million (9.5%) were nomads.JOURNAL,weblink Censuses of Pastoral Nomads and Some General Remarks about the Census of Nomadic Tribes of Iran in 1998, Online Research Library: Questia, Nomadic Peoples, 7, 2, 24–35, 29 April 2015, December 2003, Moussavi-Nejad, Ebrahim, 10.3167/082279403781826328, Although the nomadic population of Iran has dramatically decreased in the 20th century, Iran still has one of the largest nomadic populations in the world, an estimated 1.5 million in a country of about 70 million.Iran's nomads going extinct, Los Angeles Times, February 18, 2008In Kazakhstan where the major agricultural activity was nomadic herding,WEB,weblink National Geographic: Images of Animals, Nature, and Cultures, 29 April 2015,weblink" title="">weblink 18 May 2009, yes, dmy-all, forced collectivization under Joseph Stalin's rule met with massive resistance and major losses and confiscation of livestock.WEB,weblink Kazahstan Student Society in the United Kingdom, 29 April 2015, Livestock in Kazakhstan fell from 7 million cattle to 1.6 million and from 22 million sheep to 1.7 million. The resulting famine of 1931–1934 caused some 1.5 million deaths: this represents more than 40% of the total Kazakh population at that time.WEB,weblink General information, 29 April 2015, In the 1950s as well as the 1960s, large numbers of Bedouin throughout the Middle East started to leave the traditional, nomadic life to settle in the cities of the Middle East, especially as home ranges have shrunk and population levels have grown. Government policies in Egypt and Israel, oil production in Libya and the Persian Gulf, as well as a desire for improved standards of living, effectively led most Bedouin to become settled citizens of various nations, rather than stateless nomadic herders. A century ago nomadic Bedouin still made up some 10% of the total Arab population. Today they account for some 1% of the total.The Middle East People Groups and Their Distribution {{Webarchive|url= |date=2009-01-26 }}, Zeidan, David, OM-IRC, 1995At independence in 1960, Mauritania was essentially a nomadic society. The great Sahel droughts of the early 1970s caused massive problems in a country where85% of its inhabitants were nomadic herders. Today only 15% remain nomads.Mauritania – Political Power in the Mid-1980s, U.S. Library of Congress Country StudiesAs many as 2 million nomadic Kuchis wandered over Afghanistan in the years before the Soviet invasion, and most experts agreed that by 2000 the number had fallen dramatically, perhaps by half. The severe drought had destroyed 80% of the livestock in some areas."Severe Drought Driving Nomads From Desert", Los Angeles Times, June 30, 2000Niger experienced a serious food crisis in 2005 following erratic rainfall and desert locust invasions. Nomads such as the Tuareg and Fulani, who make up about 20% of Niger's 12.9 million population, had been so badly hit by the Niger food crisis that their already fragile way of life is at risk.Niger way of life 'under threat', BBC News, August 16, 2005 Nomads in Mali were also affected.Mali's nomads face famine BBC News, August 9, 2005


Pala nomads living in Western Tibet have a diet that is unusual in that they consume very few vegetables and no fruit. The main staple of their diet is tsampa and they drink Tibetan style butter tea. Pala will eat heartier foods in the winter months to help keep warm. Some of the customary restrictions they explain as cultural saying only that drokha do not eat certain foods, even some that may be naturally abundant. Though they live near sources of fish and fowl these do not play a significant role in their diet, and they do not eat carnivorous animals, rabbits or the wild asses that are abundant in the environs, classifying the latter as horse due to their cloven hooves. Some families do not eat until after the morning milking, while others may have a light meal with butter tea and tsampa. In the afternoon, after the morning milking, the families gather and share a communal meal of tea, tsampa and sometimes yogurt. During winter months the meal is more substantial and includes meat. Herders will eat before leaving the camp and most do not eat again until they return to camp for the evening meal. The typical evening meal may include thin stew with tsampa, animal fat and dried radish. Winter stew would include a lot of meat with either tsampa or boiled flour dumplings.BOOK, Goldstein, Mervyll, Nomads of Western Tibet: The Survival of a Way of Life, 1990, University of California Press, 114,weblink Nomadic diets in Kazakhstan have not changed much over centuries. The Kazakh nomad cuisine is simple and includes meat, salads, marinated vegetables and fried and baked breads. Tea is served in bowls, possibly with sugar or milk. Milk and other dairy products, like cheese and yogurt, are especially important. Kumiss is a drink of fermented milk. Wrestling is a popular sport, but the nomadic people do not have much time for leisure. Horse riding is a valued skill in their culture.BOOK, Pavlovic, Zoran, Kazakhstan, 2003, Infobase Publishing, 57,weblink 978-1438105192,

Contemporary peripatetic minorities in Europe and Asia{{anchor|Peripatetic minorities}}

{{off topic|date=July 2013}}{{further|Vagrancy (people)}}File:Greguss János Sátoros cigányok.jpg|thumb|upright=1.15|A tent of Romani nomads in Hungary, 19th century.]]Peripatetic minorities are mobile populations moving among settled populations offering a craft or trade.{{citation needed|date=July 2013}}Each existing community is primarily endogamous, and subsists traditionally on a variety of commercial or service activities. Formerly, all or a majority of their members were itinerant, and this largely holds true today. Migration generally takes place within the political boundaries of a single state these days.Each of the peripatetic communities is multilingual; it speaks one or more of the languages spoken by the local sedentary populations, and, additionally, within each group, a separate dialect or language is spoken.{{Citation needed|date=December 2010}} The latter are either of Indic or Iranian origin,{{Citation needed|date=December 2010}} and many are structured somewhat like an argot or secret language, with vocabularies drawn from various languages. There are indications that in northern Iran at least one community speaks Romani language, and some groups in Turkey also speak Romani.

Romani people

{{Further|Romani people}}

Dom people

{{Further|Dom people}}In Afghanistan, the Nausar worked as tinkers and animal dealers. Ghorbat men mainly made sieves, drums, and bird cages, and the women peddled these as well as other items of household and personal use; they also worked as moneylenders to rural women. Peddling and the sale of various goods was also practiced by men and women of various groups, such as the Jalali, the Pikraj, the Shadibaz, the Noristani, and the Vangawala. The latter and the Pikraj also worked as animal dealers. Some men among the Shadibaz and the Vangawala entertained as monkey or bear handlers and snake charmers; men and women among the Baluch were musicians and dancers. The Baluch men were warriors that were feared by neighboring tribes and often were used as mercenaries. Jogi men and women had diverse subsistence activities, such as dealing in horses, harvesting, fortune-telling, bloodletting, and begging.{{Citation needed|date=December 2010}}In Iran the Asheq of Azerbaijan, the Challi of Baluchistan, the Luti of Kurdistan, Kermānshāh, Īlām, and Lorestān, the Mehtar in the Mamasani district, the Sazandeh of Band-i Amir and Marv-dasht, and the Toshmal among the Bakhtyari pastoral groups worked as professional musicians. The men among the Kowli worked as tinkers, smiths, musicians, and monkey and bear handlers; they also made baskets, sieves, and brooms and dealt in donkeys. Their women made a living from peddling, begging, and fortune-telling.The Ghorbat among the Basseri were smiths and tinkers, traded in pack animals, and made sieves, reed mats, and small wooden implements. In the Fārs region, the Qarbalband, the Kuli, and Luli were reported to work as smiths and to make baskets and sieves; they also dealt in pack animals, and their women peddled various goods among pastoral nomads. In the same region, the Changi and Luti were musicians and balladeers, and their children learned these professions from the age of 7 or 8 years.{{Citation needed|date=December 2010}}The nomadic groups in Turkey make and sell cradles, deal in animals, and play music. The men of the sedentary groups work in towns as scavengers and hangmen; elsewhere they are fishermen, smiths, basket makers, and singers; their women dance at feasts and tell fortunes. Abdal men played music and made sieves, brooms, and wooden spoons for a living. The Tahtacı traditionally worked as lumberers; with increased sedentarization, however, they have taken to agriculture and horticulture.{{Citation needed|date=December 2010}}Little is known for certain about the past of these communities; the history of each is almost entirely contained in their oral traditions. Although some groups—such as the Vangawala—are of Indian origin, some—like the Noristani—are most probably of local origin; still others probably migrated from adjoining areas. The Ghorbat and the Shadibaz claim to have originally come from Iran and Multan, respectively, and Tahtacı traditional accounts mention either Baghdad or Khorāsān as their original home. The Baluch say they{{Clarify|reason=Who are the Baluch talking about? Themselves, or the Ghorbat and the Shadibaz?|date=February 2012}} were attached as a service community to the Jamshedi, after they fled Baluchistan because of feuds.Peripatetics of Afghanistan, Iran, and TurkeyBOOK,weblink Customary Strangers, 29 April 2015, 978-0897897716, Berland, Joseph C., Rao, Aparna, 2004,


Yörüks are the nomadic people who live in Turkey. Still some groups such as Sarıkeçililer continues nomadic lifestyle between coastal towns Mediterranean and Taurus Mountains even though most of them were settled by both late Ottoman and Turkish republic.

Image gallery

File:Unknown Mongolia - a record of travel and exploration in north-west Mongolia and Dzungaria (1914) (14592471478).jpg|Mongol nomads in the Altai Mountains.File:Snake charmer(js).jpg|Snake charmer from Telungu community of Sri Lanka.File:PazyrikHorseman.JPG|A Scythian horseman from the general area of the Ili river, Pazyryk, c. 300 BCE.File:Schongauer.jpg|Yeniche people in the 15th centuryFile:Bedouinnasserwadirum.jpg|A young Bedouin lighting a camp fire in Wadi Rum, Jordan.File:Prokudin-Gorskii-18.jpg|Kyrgyz nomads in the steppes of the Russian Empire, Uzbekistan, by pioneer color photographer Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky, c. 1910.File:Mali1974-151 hg.jpg|Tuareg in Mali, 1974.File:Перекочевка киргизов.jpg|Kyrgyz nomads, 1869–1870.File:Giulio Rosati 5.jpg|Nomads in the Desert (Giulio Rosati).File:AtsinaMovingCamp.jpg|Gros Ventre (Atsina) American Indians moving camps with travois for transporting skin lodges and belongings.File:COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Woonschuit van een Oerang-Laoet familie Ka. Toengkal TMnr 10010488.jpg|House barge of the Sea Gypsies, Indonesia. 1914–1921File:Bedouins - Tunisia - 1899.jpg|Photograph of Bedouins (wandering Arabs) of Tunisia, 1899File:R Varma Gypsies.jpg|Indian Gypsies painting by well-known artiste Raja Ravi VarmaFile:Gipsy.jpg|alt=Banjara|Indian gypsy Banjara

See also

Figurative use of the term:



Further reading

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