Buzescu Bonanza

Ivan Kashinsky & Karla Gachet

In a small town in rural Romania, a community of entrepreneurial Roma have created a unique architectural phenomenon.~~Richly adorned multi-storey mansions with elaborate turrets, balconies, pillars and adornments from across the history of architecture are not the first thing that springs to mind when one thinks of Roma, or Gypsies as they are disparagingly known across Europe. Yet in Buzescu, a small town of 5,000 inhabitant 50 miles southwest of Bucharest, the Romanian capital, the main street is lined with a most unlikely row of architectural adventures in a strange catalogue of pastel colours and oddly combined materials. On the streets between these clusters of gaudy castles, fleets of Mercedes slowly move over rutted streets.

A third of Buzescu's inhabitants are Roma yet the ostentatious construction style dominates large parts of the town and challenges the received perception of Roma being a poor, itinerant lot, wandering through the countryside incessantly without putting down roots.~~Buzescu's Roma, most of whom are Kalderash or 'coppersmiths', are well known for their craftsmanship in making cazane, a traditional copper still used in making fruit brandy and the best craftsmen could fetch very respectable fees for their handmade cazanes.~~It was after the end of the communist regime in Romania, though, that the entrepreneurial spirit of the Kalderash came into its own. With industrial infrastructure being left to rot across the country and Eastern Europe, astute Roma were quick to realise the potential in the copper, silver, aluminium, steel and other scrap metals that were there for the taking. Many Roma were able to reap handsome profits in the unregulated commodity markets of the early post-communist era.~~The show of wealth in Buzescu is mainly for local consumption, and much of it remains on the exterior. Many of the villas still have outhouses and remain sparsely furnished inside. But the town has become a curious showcase of the contemporary self-image of some of Romania's least respected citizens.

 

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      Romania

      Men chat on the streets. Buzescu is known for it's...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00164251

      Romania

      A man has a shave in the home of a poor Roma family....

      © Karla Gachet

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      Romania

      6 year old Jasmin Iancu dances with her grandfather,...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

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      Romania

      A turkey is killed for Easter. Buzescu is known for...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

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      Romania

      A boy poses at the baptism of Florin Petrache....

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00164254

      Romania

      Romanians and Roma buy goods at the weekly market....

      © Ivan Kashinsky

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      Romania

      At Florina Mihai's home, a family members cleans a...

      © Karla Gachet

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      Romania

      Small houses meet with unfinished mansions in the...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

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      Romania

      A woman stands with a broom next to a horse and cart,...

      © Karla Gachet

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      Romania

      A poor Roma family work on a back street in Buzescu....

      © Karla Gachet

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      Romania

      Stancu Bureata stands on a street as he makes his way...

      © Karla Gachet

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      Romania

      Romika Iancu fixes his horse cart on the back roads...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

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      Romania

      Viocu Adriana, a homeless woman, sits on the tracks...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

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      Romania

      Madalina Ion sits in a room full of toys. Buzescu is...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00164287

      Romania

      Home of Mariuta Marin and Marin Paraschiv. Buzescu is...

      © Karla Gachet

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      Romania

      Simona Iancu does spring cleaning in a mansion....

      © Ivan Kashinsky

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      Romania

      17 year old Dennis Youncu stands in his driveway in...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

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      Romania

      Petrace Marieana sits with her grandchildren, Bobi...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

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      Romania

      Family and godparents parade the streets with gifts...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

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      Romania

      Jasmina stands on the railway tracks. Buzescu is...

      © Karla Gachet

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      Romania

      A religious emblem hangs round the neck of a woman....

      © Karla Gachet

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      Romania

      Nadia cleans windows at her home. Buzescu is known...

      © Karla Gachet

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      Romania

      A girl poses with an accordion. Buzescu is known for...

      © Karla Gachet

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      Romania

      The Petrache family pose in thier mansion in Buzescu....

      © Ivan Kashinsky

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      Romania

      The godfather, Viorel Petrache, interacts with...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

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      Romania

      A boy stands in the kitchen at a baptism party....

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00164256

      Romania

      Weatlhy Roma celebrate Easter in the house of Florin...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00164262

      Romania

      A girl plays on a street. Buzescu is known for it's...

      © Karla Gachet

      00164347

      Romania

      Six year old twins Gelu and Edi Petrache sit on...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00164263

      Romania

      Rafeal and Florin Stan pose before giving out baptism...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

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      Romania

      The Bureata and Stan families pose for a portrait on...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00164268

      Romania

      A Romanian farmer stands on the outskirts of Buzescu....

      © Ivan Kashinsky

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      Romania

      Roma teenagers gamble in an underground casino run by...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

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      Romania

      Vandana Ispilante with her daughter, Edera, 13, in a...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00164279

      Romania

      Twin sisters Florina and Roxina Stan dance in their...

      © Karla Gachet

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      Romania

      Eugenia Stan stands in the bathroom of her family's...

      © Karla Gachet

      00164301

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