Lyuli woman with child in Kazan, Russia2.JPG
Lyuli woman with child at the Bolaq embankment, Kazan, Russia.
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Persian Romani
Turkic language (mixed speech and dialects)
Sunni Islam
Related ethnic groups
Ghorbati, Abdals

The Lyuli, Jughi (self-name - Mugat and Ghorbati) or Jugi are a branch of the Ghorbati people living in Central Asia, primarily Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and southern Kyrgyzstan; also, related groups can be found in Turkey,[5] Crimea, Southern Russia and Afghanistan.[6] They speak ethnolects of the Persian and Turkic language and practice Sunni Islam. The terms “Lyuli” and “Jugi” are pejorative. They have a clan organization (the Lyuli word for ‘clan’ is tupar, the Jughi word - avlod). Division into sub-clans is also practiced. The Lyuli community is extremely closed towards non-Lyuli.[7]


There are several names for the Lyuli: Jughi, Multani, Bombay or Luli. However, they refer to themselves as Muğat (Мугат) or Mughat (Persian: مغان), as well as Gurbeti (Arabic: غربات), which means "lonely".[5] The term Multani signifies a person who originates from the city of Multan (in modern-day Pakistan), because some of the Lyuli emigrated from Multan after the Siege of Multan, 1296–1297 to Central Asia.[8]


Similar to Romani residing elsewhere, the Lyuli originate from India. According to local traditions held by the Lyuli, their community already existed in the region by the time of Timur. In time, the Lyuli began adopting the customs, languages, and the Islamic faith of their Central Asian neighbors. Many Lyuli were nomadic until the early 20th century, when they began living in urban areas.[9]

Lyuli in Kyrgyzstan

The Lyuli live in the south of Kyrgyzstan, in Osh Region. Their living standard is extremely low. Many Lyuli have no official documents. Education is conducted in Russian, Kyrgyz, or Uzbek, but many Muğat lack education. Lyuli society is working towards improvement of their living standards, education and knowledge of Kyrgyz and Russian, and preservation of their culture.[10][11]

Lyuli in Uzbekistan

There are approximately 12,000 Lyuli in Uzbekistan.[12] While children converse in their native language or mixed speech at home, poor educational standards and poverty have gradually reduced fluency rates in favour of Russian or Uzbek.

Lyuli in Russia

Starting from the early 1990s, the Lyuli began migrating into Southern Russian cities, most noticeably around railway stations and markets. At first, Russians mistakenly identified them as Tajik refugees or ethnic Uzbeks due to their traditional Central Asian robes. Russian Roma emphasize that the Lyuli are distinct from them and not Roma, and are considered to be of Indo-Turkic people origin.[7] They are a frequent target of Russian far right skinheads.[13]

Jugi in Iran

Regions with significant populations
Mazanderani, Persian
Related ethnic groups
Abdal of Turkey

Jugi people are a Nomad group, who believe once came from Egypt,[14] living in Mazandaran Province of Iran and in Central Asia, called as Central Asian Gypsy and confused with European Romani people.[15][16][17][18]


The Ottoman Archives of the 18th and 19th century, told from 4 clans of the so-called Türkmen Kıpti who spoke a Turkik dialect with few Romani words in their jargon and who were Alevi of Bektashi Order, as a separate group of other Roma people in Rumelia. They migrated from Central Asia to Anatolia. At Dulkadiroğlu, Kahramanmaraş, they was registered in the 16th as Gurbet at the time of the Ottoman Empire, and settled finally in the Balkans and Crimean Khanate.[6] Turkish Roma from Varna in Bulgaria who called themself as Usta Millet or Mehter, claimed to be descendants of this special tribe.[19]


In the past the Lyuli used to work as wandering musical entertainers, fortune-tellers, peddlers and beggars. Women also worked as tailors for other non-Lyuli women, including making hairnets for veils. Some subgroups specialized in other trades like woodworking.[9] Modern Lyuli are now settled and work in diverse occupations including in education, factories, business and more.[9]

The Lyuli are devout Sunni Muslims. Their religious practices are as orthodox as that of their coreligionists but some traces of pre-Islamic beliefs have continued to endure.[9]

The Lyuli face discrimination from others and social marginalization.[11][12] Some suffer from poverty and isolation.[12]

See also


  1. ^ "Lyuli in Uzbekistan".
  2. ^ "Lyuli in Tajikistan".
  3. ^ "Lyuli in Kyrgyzstan".
  4. ^ "НАЦИОНАЛЬНЫЙ СОСТАВ НАСЕЛЕНИЯ". Archived from the original (XLS) on 2016-02-29. Retrieved 2016-02-09.
  5. ^ a b "TÜRKİYE'DE YAŞAYAN ÇİNGENELERİN SANATSAL OLARAK ELE ALINIŞI" (PDF). (in Turkish). Retrieved 2022-07-04.
  6. ^ a b Marushiakova; Popov, Vesselin (2014). "Migrations and Identities of Central Asian 'Gypsies'" – via ResearchGate.
  7. ^ a b (in Russian) Николай Бессонов. Цыгане и пресса. Эпопея о люли Archived 2007-02-19 at the Wayback Machine - Some photos of Lyulis
  8. ^ Marushiakova, Elena; Popov, Vesselin (2016). Gypsies in Central Asia and the Caucasus. ISBN 9783319410562.
  9. ^ a b c d Akiner, Shirin (1986). Islamic Peoples Of The Soviet Union. Routledge. p. 371. ISBN 978-1-136-14274-1.
  10. ^ "Интернет-Журнал "Оазис" Народ без прав" (in Russian). Archived from the original on September 23, 2015.
  11. ^ a b "Kyrgyzstan: For Marginalized Lyuli, Kyrgyz Language is an Antidote to Isolation | Eurasianet". Eurasianet. Retrieved 2020-12-07.
  12. ^ a b c Salopek, Paul (January 17, 2017). "Trading in Tresses". National Geographic. Retrieved January 18, 2017. There are about 12,000 Mugats in Uzbekistan. Uzbeks refer to them, often with contempt, as Lyuli or Gypsies, though there is scant genetic evidence linking them to the world's Roma diaspora, because they are self claimed to be Indo-Turkic people. The group divides itself into a caste system that suggests a migration from the Indian subcontinent into Central Asia centuries ago. Traditionally the Mugat were wandering nomads musicians and entertainers. Today they live in tight-knit neighborhoods that are considered no-go zones by other Uzbeks. They are one of the world's marginal peoples. Many survive by begging, or by recycling scrap metal or plastic bottles.
  13. ^ Osborne, Andrew (29 January 2005). "Russia's far-right on rise". The New Zealand Herald. The Independent. Retrieved 15 October 2011.
  14. ^ Marushiakova, Elena; Popov, Vesselin (2016). Gypsies in Central Asia and the Caucasus. ISBN 9783319410562.
  15. ^ The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Luli
  16. ^ Gypsy
  17. ^ Historical Dictionary of Tajikistan
  18. ^ "View of Central Asian Gypsies – Lyuli. The overview of current socio-economic problems | Review of Nationalities". Retrieved 2021-09-03.
  19. ^ Yılgür, Egemen (2021). "Turcoman Gypsies in the Balkans: Just a Preferred Identity or More?". In Ki︠u︡Chukov, Khristo; Zakhova, Sofii︠a︡; Dumunica, Ian; Duminica, Ion (eds.). Romani History and Culture: Festschrift in Honour of Prof. Dr. Vesselin Popov. ISBN 9783969390719 – via ResearchGate.