Gyptians are divided in large families, and the heads of these families constitute the Gyptians' Council. John Faa was the king of the gyptians, and he was also one of the members of the Council. The other prominent member of the Council was Farder Coram. They were a small ethnic group and knew each other by name. Still the number was sufficient to supply 170 men to travel to the North on dogsleds to assist Lyra Silvertongue in the battle at Bolvangar. Their culture was tightly knit though it iwas widespread. They showered special love on their children, particularly when they lived separated from their mothers.
They mainly live aboard boats traversing the canals and rivers of England. They also have connections with salt-water sailors. The gyptians' primary source of income appeared to be through trading goods as they travel. Lyra described of them as coming and going with the spring and autumn fairs and could be seen as making them additionally analogous to carnival folk. Furthering this gypsy stereotype, gyptians are said to pride themselves on their ability at card games.
Gyptians had a distinctive accent, and their vocabulary contains 'Fens-Dutch' words which appeared to be generally unused by hegemonic society. They also had a distinctive physical appearance, which Lyra attempted to assume.
Gytpians sometimes gathered as an almost entire culture, and this was called a byanroping, meaning a summons or muster of families. They gathered in the fens of Norfolk to discuss and decide important matters.
Gyptians were an honourable people, and appeared to owe debts to Lord Asriel for defeating a proposed Watercourse Bill in Parliament, amongst other things. When they were made aware of the excesses of the Church researchers at Bolvangar they did their best to stop them.
Despite their honourable nature, they were sometimes perceived negatively by hegemonic society. Although they traded fairly, they were described as partaking in "incessant smuggling and occasional feuds" in which they killed other gyptians. Non-gyptian teenagers that Lyra talked to insinuate that gyptians steal horses, and were not worried by the disappearance of a gyptian child. At a party held by Mrs Coulter, Lyra stated that gyptians "take kids and sell 'em to Turks for slaves", although this was more likely to be an example of Lyra wildly inventing things.
The gyptians believed themselves to be "hit worse off than most" by the spate of child abductions and this may be what prompts them as a collective culture to plan a rescue attempt. This could also be a result of gyptians having little other recourse in society, as they were described as having little standing in the law.
Some gyptians and half-gyptians, such as Bernie Johanses took up employment on land. It appearsed that this is a cultural minority though. Some hide their gyptian heritage while still reporting information back to the gyptian leaders.