Grand Bazaar, Tehran

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This article is about the Grand Bazaar in Tehran, Iran. For the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey, see Grand Bazaar, Istanbul.
Although Tehran's Grand Bazaar economic influence has diminished somewhat in recent years, it remains the largest market of its kind in the world.

The Grand Bazaar is a historical market situated in the capital of Iran, Tehran. Throughout its history, in addition to shops the Grand bazaar has contained banks and financiers, mosques and guest houses.

Traditionally, the Tehran bazaar was split into corridors, each specialising in different types of goods, including copper, carpets, paper, spices, and precious metals, as well as small traders selling all types of goods.[1] Today, modern goods are available as well, in addition to the many traditional corridor traders that still survive. It is located In Arg Square and the main entrance is Sabze meydoon.[2]

The Grand Bazaar is located in southern Tehran; its many corridors are over 10 km in length. There are several entrances, some of which are locked and guarded at night.[3]

History[edit]

An 1873 illustration of Tehran's bustling Bazaar.
Tehran Old Bazaar.jpg

While the current bazaar is most associated with the 19th century onwards, its roots go back much further.

Trade and early bazaars in Tehran[edit]

The area around Tehran has been settled since at least 6,000 BCE, and while bazaar-like construction in Iran as a whole has been dated as far back as 4,000 BCE, Tehran's bazaar is not this old. It is hard to say exactly when the "bazaar" first appeared, but in the centuries following the introduction of Islam, travellers reported the growth of commerce in the area now occupied by the current bazaar. The Grand bazaar is a continuation of this legacy.

Research indicates that a portion of today's bazaar predated the growth of the village of Tehran under the Safavids' dynasty, although it was during and after this period that the bazaar began to grow gradually.

Western travellers indicated that by 1660 BCE and beyond, the bazaar area was still largely open, and only partially covered.[4]

Development of the Grand Bazaar[edit]

Despite relying heavily on this historical legacy, much of the bazaar itself was constructed fairly recently. The oldest remaining buildings, walls and passages in the bazaar today very rarely exceed 400 years, with many being constructed or rebuilt within the last 200 years. The bazaar grew as a "city within a city" for much of the 19th century, and was largely able to expand itself without much outside interference. However, as Tehran began to grow exponentially in the early 20th century under Reza Shah, the changes brought by this rapid expansion saw much of the bazaar (including such areas as the Perfume Sellers' Bazaar and Moat Bazaar) disappear.

The old sections of the bazaar are generally similar in architectural style, while parts added in the 20th century often look markedly different; critics say that less care was taken in the construction of later sections. However, in an effort to increase the prestige of the bazaar, projects to beautify the bazaar through the use of plaster moulding and decorative brickwork were undertaken late in the 20th century.

The Bazaari and the Islamic Revolution[edit]

The bazaar is viewed as a force of conservatism in Iranian society, providing strong links between the clergy and the middle class traders. The Iranian Revolution of 1979 received strong backing from these forces. As one of the most important bazaars in the country, the Tehran Grand Bazaar was a centre of pro-revolutionary feeling and finance.

There were several reasons why the bazaar class worked hard to help advance the revolution. The regime of the monarch Mohammed Reza Pahlavi was anathema to the bazaaris, who seemed set to lose out as the country industrialised; they feared that they would be left behind and their status in society would be reduced.

Similarly, another concern for the "bazaar class", not just in Tehran but throughout Iran, was that these traditional economic forces did not benefit from the 1974–1978 oil boom, and were thus even more inclined to aid the revolution.[5]

As such, the Grand Bazaar in Tehran was a hotbed of support for the revolution, which positioned itself opposite the pro-Western monarchy. The Grand Bazaar continues largely to support the establishment, particularly as conservative political forces often adopt a low tax, laissez-faire approach to bazaaris.[6]

Today[edit]

The Grand bazaar is still an important place of commerce for Tehranis, Iranians, travelling merchants and - increasingly - tourists. However, much of the trade and finance in the city has moved to the north of the city, leaving the bazaar somewhat decreased in importance. Still, in addition to the traditional goods on sale, the market for watches and local jewellery is apparently growing, most likely for the benefits of tourists. As is in keeping with the market spirit, tourists are encouraged to haggle. The bazaar is busiest around midday, and between 17:00 and 19:00.

As of October 2005, plans are in place to construct a hotel in the southern section of the bazaar for the benefit of tourists, in a bid to make the bazaar more hospitable and to regain some of its importance.[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ - "Iransaga - Some Places of Interest in Tehran"
  2. ^ - "BBC News - Tehran bazaar feels winds of change"
  3. ^ - "About Tehran Bazaar in Tehran province"
  4. ^ - Moghaddam, Abbas "Bazaar, the achievement of the Islamic civilisation. A short history of the Tehran Bazaar" from The Newsletter of Chamber of Commerce, Feb. 1994 (Chamber of Commerce, Industries & Mines of the Islamic Republic of Iran)
  5. ^ - - "Iran Oil Revenues and the Acceleration of Modernization, 1960-79"
  6. ^ - "Who is the mayor of Tehran?"
  7. ^ - "Iran Daily: Tehran Grand Bazaar To Get Facelift (Oct 12 2005)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°40′30″N 51°25′10″E / 35.67500001°N 51.4194444544°E / 35.67500001; 51.4194444544