The Moorish Bazaar, painting by Edwin Lord Weeks, 1873
Bazaar at Khan el-Khalili, Cairo by Pascal Sébah from Georg Ebers, Egypt: Descriptive, Historical, and Picturesque, Vol. 1, Cassell & Company, New York, 1878
Carpet Merchant in the Khan el Khaleel, from Georg Ebers, Egypt: Descriptive, Historical, and Picturesque, Vol. 1, Cassell & Company, New York, 1878

A bazaar or souq (also "souk"), is a permanently enclosed marketplace or street where goods and services are exchanged or sold.

The term bazaar originates from the Persian word bāzār. The term bazaar is sometimes also used to refer to the "network of merchants, bankers and craftsmen" who work in that area. Although the word "bazaar" is of Persian origin, its use has spread and now has been accepted into the vernacular in countries around the world.

The term souq or souk (Arabic: سوق‎, Hebrew: שוק shuq, Armenian: շուկա shuka, Spanish: zoco, also spelled shuk, shooq, soq, esouk, succ, suk, sooq, suq, soek) is used in Western Asian, North African and some Horn African cities (Amharic: ሱቅ sooq).[1][2]

Evidence for the existence of bazaars or souqs 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. Souqs became covered walkways. 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.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Western interest in Oriental culture led to the publication of many books about daily life in Middle Eastern countries. Souqs, bazaars and the trappings of trade feature prominently in paintings and engravings, works of fiction and travel writing.

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 West Asian and South Asian life; in the Middle East, souqs tend to be found in a city's medina (old quarter) Bazaars and souqs are often important tourist attractions. A number of bazaar districts have been listed as World Heritage sites due to their historical and/or architectural significance.

Terminology by regionEdit

In general a souq is synonymous with a bazaar or marketplace, and the term souq is used in Arabic-speaking countries.

BazaarEdit

 
Souq in Amman
 
The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, by Amadeo Preziosi, late 19th century

The origin of the word bazaar comes from Persian bāzār.[3][4] from Middle Persian wāzār,[5] from Old Persian vāčar,[6] from Proto-Indo-Iranian *wahā-čarana.[7] The term, bazaar, spread from Persia into Arabia and ultimately throughout the Middle East.[8]

Differing meanings of “bazaar”Edit

In North America, the United Kingdom and some other European countries, the term charity bazaar 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 "çarşı" (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 "Kapalıçarşı" (gated shopping area), while the Spice Bazaar is the "Mısır Çarşısı" (Egyptian shopping area).

VariationsEdit

In Indonesian, the word pasar means "market." The capital of Bali province, in Indonesia, is Denpasar, which means "north market."

SouqEdit

 
Souq in Dubai, the Deira Souks

The Arabic word is a loan from Aramaic "šūqā" (“street, market”), itself a loanword from the Akkadian "sūqu" (“street”, from "sāqu", meaning “narrow”). The spelling souk entered European languages probably through French during the French occupation of the Arab countries Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia in the 19th and 20th centuries. Thus, the word "souq" most likely refers to Arabic/North African traditional markets. Other spellings of this word involving the letter "Q" (sooq, souq, so'oq...) were likely developed using English and thus refer to Western Asian/Arab traditional markets, as British colonialism was present there during the 19th and 20th centuries.

In Modern Standard Arabic the term al-sooq refers to markets in both the physical sense and the abstract economic sense (e.g., an Arabic-speaker would speak of the sooq in the old city as well as the sooq for oil, and would call the concept of the free market السوق الحرّ as-sūq al-ḥurr).

VariationsEdit

In northern Morocco, the Spanish corruption socco is often used as in the Grand Socco and Petit Socco of Tangiers.

In the Indian subcontinent the corruption, 'chowk', is often used in place of souq. The term is often used generically to designate the market in any Western Asian city, but may also be used in Western cities, particularly those with a Muslim community.

In Malta the terms suq and sometimes monti are used for a marketplace.

In the United States, especially Southern California and Nevada, an indoor swap meet is a type of bazaar, i.e. a permanent, indoor shopping center open during normal retail hours, with fixed "booths" or counters for the vendors.[9][10][11]

HistoryEdit

OriginsEdit

 
Troopers in the Bazaar, India, by Edwin Lord Weeks, 19th century

Bazaars originated in the Middle East, probably in Persia.[citation needed] Pourjafara et al., point to historical records documenting the concept of a bazaar as early as 3000 BC.[12] 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 substantial demand for goods and services.[13] 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.[14]

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.[15] He also described The Babylonian Marriage Market.[16]

Documentary sources point to permanent marketplaces in Middle Eastern cities from as early as 550 BCE.[17] A souq was originally an open-air marketplace. Historically, souqs were held outside cities at locations where incoming caravans stopped and merchants displayed their goods for sale. Souqs were established at caravanserai, places where a caravan or caravans arrived and remained for rest and refreshments. Since this might be infrequent, souqs often extended beyond buying and selling goods to include major festivals involving various cultural and social activities. Any souq may serve a social function as being a place for people to meet in, in addition to its commercial function.[18] These souqs or bazaars formed networks, linking major cities with each other in which goods, culture, people and information could be exchanged.[19]

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.[20] 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.

From the 10th century to modern timesEdit

From around the 10th century, as major cities increased in size, the souq or marketplace shifted to the center of urban cities where it spread out along the city streets, typically in a linear pattern.[21] Around this time, permanent souqs also became covered marketplaces.[22]

 
Timcheh Amin-o-Dowleh, Kashan Bazaar, Iran, c. 1800

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 of Tabriz, for example, stretches along 1.5 kilometres of street and is the longest vaulted bazaar in the world.[23] Moosavi argues that the Middle-Eastern bazaar evolved in a linear pattern, whereas the market places of the West were more centralised.[24]

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.[25]

Nejad has made a detailed study of early bazaars in Iran and identifies two distinct types, based on their place within the economy, namely:[26]

* 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:[27]

"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."

21st centuryEdit

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."[28] 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.

The Medina of Fez, Morocco, with its labyrinthine covered market streets was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981.[29] Al-Madina Souq is part of the ancient city of Aleppo, another UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986.[30] The Bazaar complex at Tabriz, Iran was listed in 2010.[31] The Bazaar of Qaisiyariye in Lar, Iran is on the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.[32]

TypesEdit

SeasonalEdit

 
Cayenne peppers at a Souq in Yemen, the Souq Al Milh

A temporary, seasonal souq is held at a set time that might be yearly, monthly or weekly. The oldest souqs were set up annually, and were typically general festivals held outside cities. For example, Souq Ukadh was held yearly in pre-Islamic times in an area between Mecca and Ta’if during the sacred month of Dhu al-Qi'dah. While a busy market, it was more famous for its poetry competitions, judged by prominent poets such as Al-Khansa and Al-Nabigha. An example of an Islamic annual souq is Al Mirbid just outside Basra, also famed for its poetry competitions in addition to its storytelling activities.[33] Temporary souqs tended to become known for specific types of produce. For example, Suq Hijr in Bahrain was noted for its dates while Suq 'Adan was known for its spices and perfumes.[34] Political, economic and social changes have left only the small seasonal souqs outside villages and small towns, primarily selling livestock and agricultural products.

Weekly markets have continued to function throughout the Arab world. Most of them are named from the day of the week on which they are held. They usually have open spaces specifically designated for their use inside cities. Examples of surviving markets are the Wednesday Market in Amman that specializes in the sale of used products, the Ghazl market held every Friday in Baghdad specializing in pets; the Fina’ Market in Marrakech offers performance acts such as singing, music, acrobats and circus activities.

In tribal areas, where seasonal souks operated, neutrality from tribal conflicts was usually declared for the period of operation of a souq to permit the unhampered exchange of surplus goods. Some of the seasonal markets were held at specific times of the year and became associated with particular types of produce such as Suq Hijr in Bahrain, noted for its dates while Suq 'Adan was known for its spices and perfumes. In spite of the centrality of the Middle Eastern market place, relatively little is known due to the lack of archaeological evidence.[35]

PermanentEdit

Permanent souqs are more commonly occurring, but less renowned as they focus on commercial activity, not entertainment. Until the Umayyad era, permanent souqs were merely an open space where merchants would bring in their movable stalls during the day and remove them at night; no one had a right to specific pitch and it was usually first-come first-served. During the Umayyad era the governments started leasing, and then selling, sites to merchants. Merchants then built shops on their sites to store their goods at night. Finally, the area comprising a souq might be roofed over. With its long and narrow alleys, al-Madina Souq is the largest covered historic market in the world, with an approximate length of 13 kilometers.[36] Al-Madina Souq is part of the Ancient City of Aleppo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986.[30]

OrganizationEdit

 
Mule moving goods around in the car-free Medina quarter, Fes, Morocco

Gharipour has pointed out that in spite of the centrality of souqs and bazaars in Middle Eastern history, relatively little is known due to the lack of archaeological evidence.[37] Souqs are traditionally divided into specialized sections dealing in specific types of product, in the case of permanent souqs each usually housed in a few narrow streets and named after the product it specializes in such as the gold souq, the fabric souq, the spice souq, the leather souq, the copy souq (for books), etc. This promotes competition among sellers and helps buyers easily compare prices.

At the same time the whole assembly is collectively called a souq. Some of the prominent examples are Souq Al-Melh in Sana'a, Manama Souq in Bahrain, Bizouriyya Souq in Damascus, Saray Souq in Baghdad, Khan Al-Zeit in Jerusalem, and Zanqat Al-Niswaan in Alexandria.

Though each neighbourhood within the city would have a local Souq selling food and other essentials, the main souq was one of the central structures of a large city, selling durable goods, luxuries and providing services such as money exchange. Workshops where goods for sale are produced (in the case of a merchant selling locally-made products) are typically located away from the souq itself. The souq was a level of municipal administration. The Muhtasib was responsible for supervising business practices and collecting taxes for a given souq while the Arif are the overseers for a specific trade.

Shopping at a souq or market place is part of daily life throughout much of the Middle East.[38] Prices are commonly set by bargaining, also known as haggling, between buyers and sellers.[39]

In art and literature – OrientalismEdit

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."[40] 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. A proliferation of both Oriental fiction and travel writing occurred during the early modern period.

Subject matterEdit

Many of these works were lavishly illustrated with engravings of every day scenes of Oriental lifestyles, including scenes of market places and market trade.[41] Artists focused on the exotic beauty of the land – the markets, caravans and snake charmers. Islamic architecture also became favorite subject matter. Some of these works were propaganda designed to justify European imperialism in the East, however many artists relied heavily on their everyday experiences for inspiration in their artworks.[42] For example, Charles D'Oyly, who was born in India, published the Antiquities of Dacca featuring a series of 15 engraved plates of Dacca [now Dhaka, Bangladesh] featuring scenes of markets, commerce, buildings and streetscapes.[43] 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.[44]

Notable Orientalist artistsEdit

Notable artists in the Orientalist genre include: 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. 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.[45]

Orientalist literatureEdit

A proliferation of both Oriental fiction and travel writing occurred during the early modern period.[46]

Many English visitors to the Orient wrote narratives around their travels. 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.[47] Byron's Oriental Tales, is another example of the Romantic Orientalism genre.[48]

Although these works were purportedly non-fiction, they were notoriously unreliable. Many of these accounts provided detailed descriptions of market places, trading and commerce.[49] Examples of travel writing include: Les Mysteres de L'Egypte Devoiles by Olympe Audouard published in 1865[50] and Jacques Majorelle's Road Trip Diary of a Painter in the Atlas and the Anti-Atlas published in 1922[51]

Gallery of paintings and watercoloursEdit

Gallery of photographsEdit

List of bazaars and souqsEdit

See alsoEdit

Types of markets, bazaars and souqs
  • Bazaari
  • Bedesten (also known as bezistan, bezisten, bedesten) refers to a covered bazaar and an open bazaar in the Balkans.
  • Gold Souq – a market trading in gold.
  • Haat bazaar – (also known as a hat) an open air bazaar or market in South Asia.
  • Landa bazaar – a terminal market or market for second hand goods (South Asia).* Medina quarter
  • Meena Bazaar – a bazaar that raises money for non-profit organisations.
  • Pasar malam – a night market in Indonesia, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore that opens in the evening, typically held in the street in residential neighbourhoods.
  • Pasar pagi – a morning market, typically a wet market that trades from dawn until midday, found in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore* Wet market – sells fresh meat, fish, and produce. See also Dry goods.
Markets and retail in general

ReferencesEdit

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Further readingEdit

External linksEdit