A Moorish Bazaar
Bazaar at Khan el-Khalili, Cairo by Pascal Sebah, c. 1880
Carpet Merchant in the Khan el Khaleel, 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,[1] from Middle Persian w?z?r,[2] from Old Persian v??ar,[3] from Proto-Indo-Iranian *wah?-?arana.[4]

Souq is another word used in the Middle East for an open-air marketplace or commercial quarter. 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.

The rise of large bazaars and stock trading centers 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.

Etymology and usage

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

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". [5][6] The term, bazaar, spread from Persia into Arabia and ultimately throughout the Middle East. [7] 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,[8]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: ?????.

Troopers in the Bazaar in 19th century India.

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 organizations 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 '???',[9] composed of '??' (transliteration of 'bazaar') + ? (?, meaning 'gathering') is used to describe the sort of rummage sale described above.

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

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 Çar??s?" (Egyptian shopping area). The Arabic term, souk (souq or suk) is a synonym for bazaar.

Brief history

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. [10] 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. [11] 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. [12]

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. [13]

Nejad has made a detailed study of early bazaars in Iran and identifies two distinct types, based on their place within the economy, namely:[14]

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 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." [15]



  • Korce Bazaar
  • Kruje Bazaar



City of Kandahar, its principal bazaar and citadel, taken from the Nakkara Khauna


Big Bazaar Lankaran, Azerbaijan


Bosnia and Herzegovina



Two Egyptian women shopping at a market next to the Al-Ghouri Complex in Cairo, Egypt.

Hong Kong



Women purchasing copper utensils in a bazaar in 19th century India.
Paltan Bazaar, Assam, India




Mozaffarieh: An alley in Tabriz Bazaar devoted to carpet selling.
Bazaar in old Tehran, 1873
Vakil Bazaar as seen by Jane Dieulafoy in 1881



  • Souq Almubarikiyya





  • Bukit Beruang Bazaar, Malacca
  • Bazar Bukakbonet Gelang Patah, Johor Bahru


Asan, Kathmandu (northeast view)


Qissa Khwani Bazaar, Peshawar, Pakistan
Bazaar, Karachi, Pakistan


Sri Lanka


The Fruit Bazaar, Damascus, 1908
  • Al-Buzuriyah Souq in Damascus
  • Al-Hamidiyah Souq in Damascus
  • Souq Atwail in Damascus
  • Souq Al Buzria in Damascus
  • Mathaf Al Sulimani in Damascus
  • Midhat Pasha Souq in Damascus
  • Souq Al-Attareen (Perfumers' Souq) in Aleppo
  • Souq Khan Al-Nahhaseen (Coopery Souq) in Aleppo
  • Souq Al-Haddadeen (Blacksmiths' Souq) in Aleppo
  • Suq Al-Saboun (Soap Souq) in Aleppo
  • Suq Al-Atiq (the Old Souq) in Aleppo
  • Al-Suweiqa (Suweiqa means "small souq" in Arabic) in Aleppo
  • Suq Al-Hokedun (Hokedun means "spiritual house" in Armenian) in Aleppo



Altyn Asyr Bazaar (formerly Tolkuchka Bazaar), Turkmenistan


(These are bazaars in the English sense of the word and are referred to as "çar??" in Turkish).

Arasta Bazaar, Istanbul
Spice Bazaar,Istanbul


See also


  1. ^ Ayto, John (1 January 2009). Word Origins. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 104. ISBN 978-1-4081-0160-5. 
  2. ^ Daryaee, Touraj (16 February 2012). The Oxford Handbook of Iranian History. Oxford University Press. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-19-973215-9. 
  3. ^ "Bazaar"., LLC. Retrieved 2015. 
  4. ^ Benveniste, Émile; Lallot, Jean (1 January 1973). "Chapter Nine: Two Ways of Buying". Indo-European Language and Society. University of Miami Press. Section Three: Purchase. ISBN 978-0-87024-250-2. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ New World Encylcopedia Online,
  7. ^ Encyclopedia Britannica,
  8. ^ Christou, Jean, "Linguist makes the island a little smaller for all", Cyprus Mail, May 27, 2006 Archived March 12, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^
  10. ^ 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,, pp 10-19
  11. ^ Harris, K., "The Bazaar" The United States Institute of Peace, <Online:>
  12. ^ Hanachi, P. and Yadollah, S., "Tabriz Historical Bazaar in the Context of Change," ICOMOS Conference Proceedings, Paris, 2011
  13. ^ 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
  14. ^ 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,
  15. ^ Karimi, M., Moradi, E. and Mehr, R., "Bazaar, As a Symbol of Culture and the Architecture of Commercial Spaces in Iranian-Islamic Civilization,"
  16. ^ 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:>
  17. ^ Assari, A., Mahesh, T.M., Emtehani, M.E. and Assari, E., "Comparative Sustainability of Bazaar in Iranian Traditional Cities: Case Studies of Isfahan and Tabriz," International Journal on "Technical and Physical Problems of Engineering", Vol. 3, no. 9, 2011, pp 18-24; Iran Chamber of Commerce, <Online:>
  18. ^ "Bazaars of Uzbekistan". Retrieved . 

Further reading

External links

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