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, Romani, Sinti

The Lyuli, Jughi or Jugi (self-names: Mugat and Ghorbati) 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, and the Balkans,[6] Crimea, Southern Russia and Afghanistan.[7] They speak ethnolects of the Persian and Turkic language and practice Sunni Islam. The terms Lyuli and Jugi are considered pejorative. They have a clan organization (the Lyuli word for "clan" is tupar, the Jughi word is avlod). Division into sub-clans is also practiced. The Lyuli community is extremely closed towards non-Lyuli.[8]


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 Gurbet (Arabic: غربات), which means "lonely".[6] 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.[9]


The Lyuli originate from North 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.[10] The Lyuli had a presence in China until vanishing from the historical record by the early Qing period. Luoli was the Chinese name for them when they settled in China during the Yuan and Ming dynasty.[11] Hui during this time was not synonymous with Muslim during the Yuan, with there being Christian Hui, Jewish Hui and Gypsy Hui in addition to Muslim Hui. Muslim Hui themselves were a sub-set of Hui Hui. The term Hui Hui country (回回國) was originally used by Chinese in the Yuan dynasty to refer to the Khwarazmian Empire in Central Asia. During the Yuan dynasty Hui Hui became a catch all term used for people of multiple religions from west of China including Jews, Christians, Hindus and Muslims. Zhuhu Huihui (主鹘回回) was the specific term for Jews. Jewish and Muslim merchants who used false weights were punished by Yuan authorities in Hangzhou, the Muslims were "wealth merchants" and the Jews worked in the sugar bureau of Hangzhou.[12][13] There were also Gypsy Huihui (Luoli Huihui), Christian Green Eyed Huihui (Lüjing Huihui) and Indian Huihui (Xindu or Jingduhei Huihu).[14]

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.[15][16]

Lyuli in Kazakhstan

The Kazakh Lyuli, also known Luli-Kazakhs, or Kazakh Luli, are a small ethnic group in Kazakhstan. They are a subgroup of the broader Lyuli ethnic minority originating from Fergana Valley region in Uzbekistan and southeastern regions of Kazakhstan: Almaty Region, and Zambil. Their exact population size is unknown, but they are estimated to be a few hundreds. They speak a dialect of Kazakh language and the majority has well integrated in Kazakhstan and also identifies as Kazakh. The Kazakh Lyuli have a distinct cultural identity, which is shaped by their nomadic lifestyle, Islamic faith, and heritage. They maintain unique cultural practices and traditions, such as their music and dance, as well as specific forms of clothing and hats. The Kazakh Lyuli have faced social, economic, and political marginalization and discrimination throughout their history, and their cultural survival remains a challenge in modern-day Central Asia. The Kazakh Lyuli are believed to have also migrated to the Balkans, specifically Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the 19th century. Majority of them have a nomadic lifestyle and speak a dialect of the Kazakh language that is heavily influenced by Turkish. Today, in Balkans, there is a few hundreds of Kazakh Lyuli who have assimilated into the society and majority have obtained citizenships of countries they reside in.

Lyuli in Uzbekistan

There are approximately 12,000 Lyuli in Uzbekistan.[17] 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 part of the Romani society and culture, and are considered to be of Indo-Turkic people origin.[8] They are a frequent target of Russian far right skinheads.[18]

Lyuli in Tajikistan

2,234 Lyuli lived in Tajikistan in 2010.[19]

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,[9] living in Mazandaran Province of Iran and in Central Asia, called as Central Asian Gypsy and confused with European Romani people or Doms and Loms.[20][21][22][23]

Anatolia, Balkans and Crimea peninsula

The Ottoman Archives of the 18th and 19th century, cite 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 in Rumelia. They migrated from Central Asia to Anatolia. At Dulkadiroğlu, Kahramanmaraş, they were registered in the 16th as Gurbet at the time of the Ottoman Empire, and settled finally in the Balkans and Crimean Khanate.[7] Turkish Roma from Varna in Bulgaria who called themself Usta Millet or Mehter, claimed to be descendants of this special tribe.[24]


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.[10] Modern Lyuli are now settled and work in diverse occupations including in education, factories, business and more.[10]

The Lyuli are devout Sunni Muslims, but some traces of pre-Islamic beliefs have continued to endure.[10]

The Lyuli face discrimination from others and social marginalization.[16][17] Some suffer from poverty and isolation.[17]

See also


  1. ^ "Lyuli people group in all countries | Joshua Project".
  2. ^ "Lyuli in Uzbekistan".
  3. ^ "Lyuli in Tajikistan".
  4. ^ "Демоскоп Weekly - Приложение. Справочник статистических показателей".
  5. ^ "НАЦИОНАЛЬНЫЙ СОСТАВ НАСЕЛЕНИЯ". Archived from the original (XLS) on 2016-02-29. Retrieved 2016-02-09.
  6. ^ a b "TÜRKİYE'DE YAŞAYAN ÇİNGENELERİN SANATSAL OLARAK ELE ALINIŞI" (PDF). (in Turkish). Retrieved 2022-07-04.
  7. ^ a b Marushiakova; Popov, Vesselin (2014). "Migrations and Identities of Central Asian 'Gypsies'" – via ResearchGate.
  8. ^ a b (in Russian) Николай Бессонов. Цыгане и пресса. Эпопея о люли Archived 2007-02-19 at the Wayback Machine - Some photos of Lyulis
  9. ^ a b Marushiakova, Elena; Popov, Vesselin (2016). Gypsies in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Springer. ISBN 9783319410562.
  10. ^ a b c d Akiner, Shirin (1986). Islamic Peoples Of The Soviet Union. Routledge. p. 371. ISBN 978-1-136-14274-1.
  11. ^ "Legendary gypsies once in China". Retrieved 2023-04-20.
  12. ^ "Zhuhu Referred to Jews".
  13. ^ "Chinese Terms for Jews".
  14. ^ Duturaeva, Dilnoza. Qarakhanid Roads to China: A History of Sino-Turkic Relations. Leiden: Brill, 2022. pp. 115–162 Chapter 5 Qarakhanid Allies and China
  15. ^ "Интернет-Журнал "Оазис" Народ без прав" (in Russian). Archived from the original on September 23, 2015.
  16. ^ a b "Kyrgyzstan: For Marginalized Lyuli, Kyrgyz Language is an Antidote to Isolation | Eurasianet". Eurasianet. Retrieved 2020-12-07.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ Osborne, Andrew (29 January 2005). "Russia's far-right on rise". The New Zealand Herald. The Independent. Retrieved 15 October 2011.
  19. ^ "Natives of India. Who Are Tajik Gypsies?". 5 March 2019.
  20. ^ The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Luli
  21. ^ Gypsy
  22. ^ Historical Dictionary of Tajikistan
  23. ^ "View of Central Asian Gypsies – Lyuli. The overview of current socio-economic problems | Review of Nationalities". Retrieved 2021-09-03.
  24. ^ 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. LINCOM GmbH. ISBN 9783969390719 – via ResearchGate.