Carpet Merchant in the Khan el Khaleel, from Georg Ebers, Egypt: Descriptive, Historical, and Picturesque, Vol. 1, Cassell & Company, New York, 1878
A bazaar is a permanently enclosed marketplace or street where goods and services are exchanged or sold. The term originates from the Persian word b?z?r. The term bazaar is sometimes also used to refer to the "network of merchants, bankers and craftsmen" who work in that area. Although the current meaning of the word is believed to have originated in native Persia, its use has spread and now has been accepted into the vernacular in countries around the world. In Balinese, the word pasar means "market." The capital of Bali province, in Indonesia, is Denpasar, which means "north market." Souq is another word used in the Middle East for an open-air marketplace or commercial quarter.
Evidence for the existence of bazaars dates to around 3,000 BCE. Although the lack of archaeological evidence has limited detailed studies of the evolution of bazaars, indications suggest that they initially developed outside city walls where they were often associated with servicing the needs of caravanserai. As towns and cities became more populous, these bazaars moved into the city center and developed in a linear pattern along streets stretching from one city gate to another gate on the opposite side of the city. Over time, these bazaars formed a network of trading centres which allowed for the exchange of produce and information. The rise of large bazaars and stock trading centres in the Muslim world allowed the creation of new capitals and eventually new empires. New and wealthy cities such as Isfahan, Golconda, Samarkand, Cairo, Baghdad and Timbuktu were founded along trade routes and bazaars. Street markets are the European and North American equivalents.
Shopping at a bazaar or market-place remains a central feature of daily life in many Middle-Eastern and South Asian cities and towns and the bazaar remains the "beating heart" of Middle-Eastern city and South Asian life. A number of bazaar districts have been listed as World Heritage sites due to their historical and/or architectural significance. Visiting a bazaar or souq has also become a popular tourist pastime.
In North America, the United Kingdom and some other European countries, the term can be used as a synonym for a "rummage sale", to describe charity fundraising events held by churches or other community organisations in which either donated used goods (such as books, clothes and household items) or new and handcrafted (or home-baked) goods are sold for low prices, as at a church or other organisation's Christmas bazaar, for example.
Although Turkey offers many famous markets known as "bazaars" in English, the Turkish word "pazar" refers to an outdoor market held at regular intervals, not a permanent structure containing shops. English place names usually translate "çar" (shopping district) as "bazaar" when they refer to an area with covered streets or passages. For example, the Turkish name for the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is "Kapal?çar" (gated shopping area), while the Spice Bazaar is the "M?s?r Çars?" (Egyptian shopping area). The Arabic term, souk (souq or suk) is a synonym for bazaar in Arab-speaking countries.
Bazaars originated in the Middle East, probably in Persia. Pourjafara et al., point to historical records documenting the concept of a bazaar as early as 3000 BC. By the 4th century (CE), a network of bazaars had sprung up alongside ancient caravan trade routes. Bazaars were typically situated in close proximity to ruling palaces, citadels or mosques, not only because the city afforded traders some protection, but also because palaces and cities generated subtantial demand for goods and services. Bazaars located along these trade routes, formed networks, linking major cities with each other and in which goods, culture, people and information could be exchanged.
The Greek historian, Herodotus, noted that in Egypt, roles were reversed compared with other cultures and Egyptian women frequented the market and carried on trade, while the men remain at home weaving cloth. He also described The Babylonian Marriage Market.
Prior to the 10th century, bazaars were situated on the perimeter of the city or just outside the city walls. Along the major trade routes, bazaars were associated with the caravanserai. From around the 10th century, bazaars and market places were gradually integrated within the city limits. The typical bazaar was a covered area where traders could buy and sell with some protection from the elements. Over the centuries, the buildings that housed bazaars became larger and more elaborate. The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is often cited as the world's oldest continuously-operating, purpose-built market; its construction began in 1455.
City bazaars occupied a series of alleys along the length of the city, typically stretching from one city gate to a different gate on the other side of the city. The bazaar at Tabriz, for example, stretches along 1.5 kilometres of street and is the longest vaulted bazaar in the world. Moosavi argues that the Middle-Eastern bazaar evolved in a linear pattern, whereas the market places of the West were more centralised.
In pre-Islamic Arabia, two types of bazaar existed: permanent urban markets and temporary seasonal markets. The temporary seasonal markets were held at specific times of the year and became associated with particular types of produce. Suq Hijr in Bahrain was noted for its dates while Suq 'Adan was known for its spices and perfumes. In spite of the centrality of the Middle East in the history of bazaars, relatively little is known due to the lack of archaeological evidence. However, documentary sources point to permanent marketplaces in cities from as early as 550 BCE.
Nejad has made a detailed study of early bazaars in Iran and identifies two distinct types, based on their place within the economy, namely:
* Commercial bazaars (or retail bazaars): emerged as part of an urban economy not based on a merchant system
* Socio-commercial bazaars: formed in economies based on a merchant system, socio-economic bazaars are situated on major trade routes and are well integrated into the city's structural and spatial systems
In the 1840s, Charles White described the Yessir Bazary of Constantinople in the following terms:
"The interior consists of an irregular quadrangle. In the center is a detached building, the upper portion serving as a lodging for slavedealers, and underneath are cells for newly imported slaves. To this is attached a coffee-house, and near to it a half-ruined mosque. Around the three habitable sides of the court runs an open colonnade, supported by wooden columns, and approached by steps at an angle. Under the colonnade are platforms, separated from each other by low railings and benches. Upon these, dealers and customers may be seen during business hours smoking and discussing prices.
Behind these platforms are ranges of small chambers, divided into two compartments by a trellice-work. The habitable part is raised about three feet from the ground; the remainder serves as passage and cooking place. The front portion is generally tenanted by black, and the rear by white slaves. These chambers are exclusively devoted to females. Those to the north and west are destined for second hand negresses or white women - that is, for slaves who have been previously purchased and instructed, and are sent to be resold. The hovels to the east are reserved for newly imported negresses, or black and white women of low price.
The platforms are divided from the chambers by a narrow alley, on the wall side of which are benches, where women are exposed for sale. This alley serves as a passage of communication and walk for the brokers, who sell slaves by auction and on commission. In this case, the brokers walk around, followed by the slaves, and announce the price offered. Purchasers, seated on the platforms, then examine, question and bid, as suits their fancy, until at length the woman is sold or withdrawn."
In the Middle East, the bazaar is considered to be "the beating heart of the city and a symbol of Islamic architecture and culture of high significance." Today, bazaars are popular sites for tourists and some of these ancient bazaars have been listed as world heritage sites or national monuments on the basis of their historical, cultural or architectural value.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, Europeans conquered and excavated parts of North Africa and the Levant. These regions now make up what is called the Middle East, but in the past were known as the Orient. Europeans sharply divided peoples into two broad groups - the European West and the East or Orient; us and the other. Europeans often saw Orientals as the opposite of Western civilisation; the peoples could be threatening- they were "despotic, static and irrational whereas Europe was viewed as democratic, dynamic and rational." At the same time, the Orient was seen as exotic, mysterious, a place of fables and beauty. This fascination with the other gave rise to a genre of painting known as Orientalism. Artists focussed on the exotic beauty of the land - the markets, caravans and snake charmers. Islamic architecture also became favourite subject matter. European society generally frowned on nude painting - but harems, concubines and slave markets, presented as quasi-documentary works, satisfied European desires for pornographic art. The Oriental female wearing a veil was a particularly tempting subject because she was hidden from view, adding to her mysterious allure.
French painter Jean-Étienne Liotard visited Istanbul in the 17th century and painted pastels of Turkish domestic scenes. British painter John Frederick Lewis who lived for several years in a traditional mansion in Cairo, painted highly detailed works showing realistic genre scenes of Middle Eastern life. Edwin Lord Weeks was a notable American example of a 19th-century artist and author in the Orientalism genre. His parents were wealthy tea and spice merchants who were able to fund his travels and interest in painting. In 1895 Weeks wrote and illustrated a book of travels titled From the Black Sea through Persia and India. Other notable painters in the Orientalist genre who included scenes of street life and market-based trade in their work are Jean-Léon Gérôme Delacroix (1824-1904), Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps (1803-1860), Frederic Leighton (1830-1896), Eugène Alexis Girardet 1853-1907 and William Holman Hunt (1827-1910), who all found inspiration in Oriental street scenes, trading and commerce.
A proliferation of both Oriental fiction and travel writing occurred during the early modern period. British Romantic literature in the Orientalism tradition has its origins in the early eighteenth century, with the first translations of The Arabian Nights (translated into English from the French in 1705-08). The popularity of this work inspired authors to develop a new genre, the Oriental tale. Samuel Johnson's History of Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia, (1759) is mid-century example of the genre. Byron's Oriental Tales, is another example of the Romantic Orientalism genre.
Many English visitors to the Orient wrote narratives around their travels. Although these works were purportedly non-fiction, they were notoriously unreliable. Many of these accounts provided detailed descriptions of market places, trading and commerce. Examples of travel writing include: Les Mysteres de L'Egypte Devoiles by Olympe Audouard published in 1865 and Jacques Majorelle's Road Trip Diary of a Painter in the Atlas and the Anti-Atlas published in 1922
Selected paintings & watercolours with bazaar scenes as subject matter
After sustaining irreparable damage during the country's civil war, Beirut's ancient souks have been completely modernised and rebuilt while maintaining the original ancient Greek street grid, major landmarks and street names.
Bazaars and Souks of Old City of Sidon - The ancient, Southern city of Sidon has a large and well preserved old town that is divided into the Muslim, Christian and Jewish quarters, each of which contains souks, bazaars and khans of various specialties.
^Pourjafara, M., Aminib, M., Varzanehc, and Mahdavinejada, M., "Role of bazaars as a unifying factor in traditional cities of Iran: The Isfahan bazaar," Frontiers of Architectural Research, Vol. 3, No. 1, March 2014, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foar.2013.11.001, pp 10-19; Mehdipour, H.R.N, "Persian Bazaar and Its Impact on Evolution of Historic Urban Cores: The Case of Isfahan," The Macrotheme Review [A multidisciplinary Journal of Global Macro Trends], Vol. 2, no. 5, 2013, p.13
^Hanachi, P. and Yadollah, S., "Tabriz Historical Bazaar in the Context of Change," ICOMOS Conference Proceedings, Paris, 2011
^Thamis, "Herodotus on the Egyptians." Ancient History Encyclopedia. Ancient History Encyclopedia, 18 Jan 2012. Web. 20 Aug 2017.
^Herodotus: The History of Herodotus, Book I (The Babylonians), c. 440BC, translated by G.C. Macaulay, c. 1890
^Gharipour, M., "The Culture and Politics of Commerce," in The Bazaar in the Islamic City: Design, Culture, and History, Mohammad Gharipour (ed.), New York, The American University in Cairo Press, 2012 pp 14-15
^Mehdipour, H.R.N, "Persian Bazaar and Its Impact on Evolution of Historic Urban Cores: The Case of Isfahan," The Macrotheme Review [A multidisciplinary Journal of Global Macro Trends], Vol. 2, no. 5, 2013, p.14
^Moosavi, M. S. Bazaar and its Role in the Development of Iranian Traditional Cities [Working Paper], Tabriz Azad University, Iran, 2006
^Gharipour, M., "The Culture and Politics of Commerce," in The Bazaar in the Islamic City: Design, Culture, and History, Mohammad Gharipour (ed.), New York, The American University in Cairo Press, 2012, pp 4-5
^Nejad, R. M., "Social bazaar and commercial bazaar: comparative study of spatial role of Iranian bazaar in the historical cities in different socio-economical context," 5th International Space Syntax Symposium Proceedings, Netherlands: Techne Press, D., 2005,
^Cited in: Stewart, F., Shackles of Iron: Slavery Beyond the Atlantic: Critical Themes in World History, 2016
^Karimi, M., Moradi, E. and Mehr, R., "Bazaar, As a Symbol of Culture and the Architecture of Commercial Spaces in Iranian-Islamic Civilization,"
^Nanda, S. and Warms, E.L., Cultural Anthropology, Cengage Learning, 2010, p. 330
^Nanda, S. and Warms, E.L., Cultural Anthropology, Cengage Learning, 2010, pp 330-331
^Davies, K., Orientalists: Western Artists in Arabia, the Sahara, Persia, New York, Laynfaroh, 2005; Meagher, J., "Orientalism in Nineteenth-Century Art," [The Metropolitan Museum of Art Essay], Online: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/euor/hd_euor.htm
^Houston, C., New Worlds Reflected: Travel and Utopia in the Early Modern Period, Routledge, 2016
^MacLean, G., The Rise of Oriental Travel: English Visitors to the Ottoman Empire, 1580-1720, Palgrave, 2004, p. 6
^Audouard, O. (de Jouval), Les Mystères de l'Égypte Dévoilés, (French Edition) (originally published in 1865), Elibron Classics, 2006
^Marcilhac, F., La Vie et l'Oeuvre de Jacques Majorelle: 1886-1962, [The Orientalists Volume 7], ARC Internationale edition, 1988.
^Crow, B., Markets, Class and Social Change: Trading Networks and Poverty in Rural South Asia, Palgrave, 2001, [Glossary] p. xvii
^Ahour, I., which dates to saljuqid era 11th century. its extension occurred in the safavid and kajar era. it is largest roofed bazar of the world. "The Qualities of Tabriz Historical Bazaar in Urban Planning and the Integration of its Potentials into Megamalls," Journal of Geography and Regional Planning, Vol. 4, No. 4, pp. 199-215, 2011, and for a contemporary account of the Bazaar see: Le Montagner, B., "Strolling through Iran's Tabriz Bazaar," The Guardian, 12 November 2014 <Online: https://www.theguardian.com/world/iran-blog/gallery/2014/nov/12/-sp-tabriz-historic-bazaar-iran-pictures>