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, from Middle Persian w?z?r, from Old Persian var, from Proto-Indo-Iranian *wah?-?arana. 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 Zoroastrian 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 cities and towns and the bazaar remains the "beating heart" of Middle-Eastern city 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 souk has also become a popular tourist pastime.
The origin of the word Bazaar comes from Persian b?z?r, and is thought to derive from the Pahlavi word baha-char () meaning "the place of prices". The term, bazaar, spread from Persia into Arabia and ultimately throughout the Middle East. Many languages have names to describe the concept of a bazaar, including Arabic and Urdu: ?, Kurdish language has the same word bazaar meaning a marketplace. Albanian, Bosnian and Turkish: pazar, Assamese: ? (bôzar), Bengali: ,Odia: ?, Bulgarian and Macedonian: , Cypriot Greek: pantopoula,Greek: (pazari), Hindi: , Hungarian: vásár (term originates from Persian influence around the 7th-8th century and means a regular market, but special occasion markets also exist, such as Karácsonyi Vásár or "Christmas Market", and bazár or Oriental-style market or shop, the term stemming from Turkish influence around the 16th-17th century), Indonesian and Malay: pasar, Armenian: , Georgian: , Polish: bazar, Russian: , Ukrainian: and Uzbek: bozor, Uyghur: ?, ULY: bazar, USY: .
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. In South Korea, the word '', composed of '' (transliteration of 'bazaar') + ? (?, meaning 'gathering') is used to describe the sort of rummage sale described above.
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.
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 a 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:
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 on world heritage sites on the basis of their historical, cultural or architectural value. The Bazaar complex at Tabriz, Iran was listed as a World Heritage site with UNESCO in 2010. The Medina at Fez, Morocco, with its labyrinthine covered market streets was also listed in 1981. Al-Madina Souq is part of the ancient city of Aleppo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, Europeans conquered and excavated many 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.
The French painter, Jean-Étienne Liotard, visited Istanbul in the 17th century and painted numerous pastels of Turkish domestic scenes. The 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, 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
Silk Mercers' Bazaar, Cairo by David Roberts, Cairo, 1838
The Bazaar, by Alexandre Defaux, 1856
Bazaar by Vasily Vereshchagin, c. 1870
Copper Market, Cairo by Edward Angelo Goodall, 1871
A Market in Isphahan by Edwin Lord Weeks, 1887
Grain Market in Fez by Jules Pierre van Biesbroeck, undated
Moroccan Market Scene by Louis Comfort Tiffany, undated
Vendors in the Covered Bazaar Istanbul by Vittorio Amadeo Preziosi,1851
Nizhny Novgorod, Lower Bazaar by Alexey Bogolyubov, 1878
Souk at Konstantynopolu by Stanis?aw Chlebowski, 19th century
Bazaar in Samarkand, by Gigo Gabashvili, 1896
The Barber at the Souk by Enrique Simonet, 1897
The Bazaar at Constantinople, watercolour by J. F. Lewis, Wellcome
Bazaar in the Old City, by Ludwig Blum, 1944
In Albania, two distinct types of bazaar can be found; Bedesten (also known as bezistan, bezisten, bedesten) which refers to a covered bazaar and an open bazaar.
In India, and also Pakistan, a town or city's main market is known as a Saddar Bazaar.
Women purchasing copper utensils in a bazaar by Edwin Lord Weeks, late 19th century
Mozaffarieh: An alley in Tabriz Bazaar devoted to carpet selling
Bazaar in old Tehran, 1873
Vakil Bazaar from Jane Dieulafoy, Perzië, Chaldea en Susiane, 1881
A Qaysari Bazaar is a type of covered bazaar typical of Kurdistan and Iraq.
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.
In the Balkans, the term, 'Bedesten' is used to describe a covered market or bazaar.
The Fruit Bazaar, Damascus, painting by Margaret Thomas and reproduced in John E. Kelman, From Damascus to Palmyra, 1908
In Turkey, the term 'bazaars' is used in the English sense, to refer to a covered market place. In Turkish the term for bazaar is "çar."