Piotr Karpenko

As I have happened to use the word ‘fakir’, I do not consider it superfluous to digress a little in order to throw some light on this famous word. It is, indeed, one of the many empty words which, on account of the incorrect meaning given them, particularly in recent times, has an automatic action upon all contemporary Europeans and has become one of the chief causes of the progressive dwindling of their thinking capacity.

Although the word ‘fakir’ in the meaning given it by Europeans is unknown to the peoples of Asia, nevertheless, this same word is in use there almost everywhere. Fakir, or more correctly fakhr, has as its root the Turkoman word meaning ‘beggar’, and among almost all the peoples of the continent of Asia whose speech is derived from ancient Turkoman, this word has come down to our day with the meaning of ‘swindler’ or ‘cheat’.

As a matter of fact, to express this meaning of ‘swindler’ or ‘cheat’ two different words are used among these peoples, both derived from ancient Turkoman. One is this word ‘fakir’ and the other is lourie. The former is the word used for a cheat or swindler who uses his guile to take advantage of others by way of their religiousness, while the latter is applied to someone who simply takes advantage of their stupidity. The name lourie, by the way, is given to all gypsies, both as a people and as individuals.

Generally speaking, gypsies are found among all other peoples and everywhere lead a nomadic life. They are chiefly engaged in dealing in horses, tinkering, in singing at feasts, fortune­telling and kindred occupations. They usually make their camps near populated places and deceive naïve townspeople and villagers by every kind of cunning. Consequently the word lourie, denoting the gypsy people, has from long ago come to be used in Asia for every person, regardless of race, who is a swindler or a cheat.

For conveying the meaning which Europeans wrongly ascribe to the word ‘fakir’, several words are employed among Asiatic peoples, the most widely used being ez-ezounavouran, which comes from the Turkoman spoken language and means ‘he who beats himself’.