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Lyuli woman with child in Kazan, Russia2.JPG
Lyuli woman with child at the Bolaq embankment, Kazan, Russia.
Total population
Regions with significant populations
 Uzbekistan 12,000
 Tajikistan 4,000
 Russia 486[1]
Tajik language
Sunni Islam
Part of a series on
Romani people
Flag of the Romani people

Lyuli (Russian: Люли) or Jughi is an ethnic group living in Central Asia, primarily Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. They speak a Tajik dialect. The Lyuli practice Islam. 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.[2]

Traditional occupations: crafts, including jewelry, cattle trading, scrap metal collection, and music.[citation needed]


There are several names for the Lyuli: Jughi, Multani or Luli. However, they refer to themselves as Mugat or Mughat (Persian: مغان‎, derived from Old Persian magi, "fire-worshipper"), as well as Ghurbat (Arabic: غربات‎), which means "lonely". 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 around 1380 AD.

According to Professor Khol Nazarov, the ancestors of the Lyuli belonged to a caste of singers, musicians and dancers. Faced with hardship in their homeland, they were forced to leave and disperse.[citation needed]

Lyuli in Kyrgyzstan

The Lyuli live in the south of Kyrgyzstan, in Osh Region. Their living standard is extremely low. Many children are not educated in their mother tongue and many Lyuli have no official documents. Lyuli society is working towards improvement of their living standards and preservation of their culture.[3]

Lyuli in Russia

Starting from the early 1990s, the Lyuli began migrating into 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, however they are considered to be a subgroup of the Romani.[2] They are a frequent target of Russian far right skinheads.[4][5]

Lyuli in Uzbekistan

There are approximately 12,000 Lyuli in Uzbekistan.[6]


  1. ^ "НАЦИОНАЛЬНЫЙ СОСТАВ НАСЕЛЕНИЯ". Archived from the original (XLS) on 2016-02-29. Retrieved 2016-02-09.
  2. ^ a b (in Russian) Николай Бессонов. Цыгане и пресса. Эпопея о люли Archived 2007-02-19 at the Wayback Machine - Some photos of Lyulis
  3. ^ (in Russian) Интернет-Журнал "Оазис" Народ без прав Archived 2015-09-23 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Osborne, Andrew (29 January 2005). "Russia's far-right on rise". The New Zealand Herald. The Independent. Retrieved 15 October 2011.
  5. ^ Russia 2004 Archived October 15, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ 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. 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 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.

External links

  • Marushiakova, Elena and Vesselin Popov. 2016. Gypsies of Central Asia and Caucasus. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Perceptions of Identity: Luli in Uzbekistan, a visit to a Luli community and brief summaries of interviews
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