Country's only Romany shop offers everything from art to card reading|
Just beneath Prague Castle on Nerudova Street a colourful and cosy shop is
bringing Romany culture to people who might otherwise never come across
it. Called the Obchudek, or Little Shop, Romen, it sells Romany music,
jewellery, art, books and clothing. Pavlina Radlova, herself a Romany,
describes the reaction of visitors to the only shop of its kind in the
"I think what surprises people the most is that such a shop exists at
all, or that Romany products exist. Our customers simply had no idea that
Romanies make such beautiful things."
Zuzana Wirthova manages the shop, which was established with the help of a
grant from the European Union. She says that before the Little Shop Romen
was opened in December she travelled about making contacts with the people
whose products the shop now sells.
"We went on two long tours of Slovakia and we visited Romany
settlements where we saw with our own eyes just how much poverty there is
there. People there have no way to make a living. We sell their goods here
and when a customer buys them they are supporting Romanies who have no
other way to make a living."
While the main aim of the shop is to present Romany culture to people who
are not familiar with it, Pavlina Radlova says visiting a shop which
reflects their own culture gives a great deal of pleasure to Romanies
"I'd say the most beautiful thing about this shop is how Romanies
themselves are wonder-struck when they come here. They are very pleasantly
surprised and some of them leave with tears in their eyes. They are happy
to be able to speak the Romany language here, to find their own literature
and other things. They really get a lot out of it - it's beautiful."
As well as her regular duties as a shop assistant, Pavlina Radlova reads
Romany cards, and will tell you your future for a small fee.
"In the past Romany cards were one way that Romany people could make
a living, and Romany women would go from village to village reading cards
for people. Mostly they made positive predictions, because people were
more willing to pay for good news. And that's the main difference from
Tarot cards - there are a lot less negative cards in the Romany deck. I
learned how to read them from my father, who had learned from his