What is a Bazaar?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 06 October 2019
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The word “bazaar” is used to refer to several different types of marketplaces, depending upon their location. In the Middle East, where the word originates, it refers to a central open market which a large number of goods can be found for sale. In the West, it is used to refer to a flea market or a store which sells miscellaneous objects, frequently to raise funds for a charity. It is also used in the context of stores stocking Middle Eastern or Asian themed items. In all instances, the bazaar carries a wide assortment of goods.

In the Middle East, a bazaar is typically located in a street or partially covered area specifically set aside for the purpose of establishing a bazaar. Individual salespeople have stalls with rear areas which can be secured at night. The word “bazaar” comes from a Pahlavi word, baha-char, which means “place of prices.” The word was adopted into the Persian language as “bazaar”, and then became widespread throughout southern Asia and the Middle East.


Numerous old Middle Eastern cities have famous bazaars, including Tehran's Grand Bazaar in Iran, which is believed to be the largest in the world. The open market bazaar contains food, instruments, household goods, clothing, storytellers, books, and many other items, often sold by competing salespeople who attempt to win customers from each other with bidding and price wars. For visitors, the bazaar is an interesting place to step into, as the layout and bargaining style have not changed dramatically in many centuries.

Outside the Middle East and neighboring nations, a bazaar is most frequently a store filled with miscellaneous objects. The word is also used to refer to a Middle Eastern themed store, and the Middle Eastern quarters of many large cities have bazaars which sell items like Indian saris, Persian rugs, and everything in between. These stores are frequently run by people who have immigrated from the Middle East or Southern Asian, and usually cater specifically to an immigrant clientèle.

A bazaar in the sense of a shop filled with an assortment of items, usually for charity, is often found in Britain. They are frequently attached to churches and charities established to promote animal welfare or provide assistance to the poor. This type of bazaar usually is stocked with items donated by members of the general public who wish to support the charity, meaning that a widespread of goods can be found for sale.


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Post 4

I think bazaar is used to refer to stores nowadays. A lot of fashion stores are named bazaars. I suppose it sounds a bit exotic and unique that way.

There is also a magazine called Harper's Bazaar, which is a fashion magazine. They show what's currently in fashion in clothing and accessories. I think they might have called it Bazaar because it's their picks which are shown in their magazine. In a way, it's a bazaar of what they like, what they feel the trends are in the fashion industry.

Just looking at this article and the comments here, there are so many different uses of meanings of bazaar! I wouldn't have thought about it if I didn't run into this article.

Post 3

@ysmina - I would really love to see a traditional Middle Eastern bazaar, especially as this concept started out in that area of the world.

The only experience I had of one not connected to my local church was when I visited Moscow and was taken to a Russian bazaar. It was hard to drag myself away from the section selling traditional food and delicacies such as teftel'ki (Russian meatballs).

I remember they were also stalls selling national costume outfits, those lovely dolls Russia is famous for, as well as a good selection of religious items and handicrafts.

The major difference was entertainment. I'm not used to see-ing singers and dancers perform at a bazaar, but it was a nice touch and I have many fond memories of that trip.

Post 2

We have several bazaars where we live. My church has an annual bazaar where they sell donated items. The money is usually used for good works. The church helps a lot of poor families. Once in a while they do a bazaar to collect money to support church operations and services.

We also have a bazaar in my neighborhood which is basically a store that sells used items in good condition. They have a lot of antiques and vintage items which I love to check out. You can find some real gems in there. People can donate items there, but they only accept certain kinds of donations. It's more of antiques, art and decorative items.

There is also

a third "bazaar" here which is a non-profit organization. They also have bazaar sales for charity. Their scope is larger than my church though. They also provide assistance during natural disasters and such. I actually really admire them because their work completely relies on donations from the public, yet they are able to do so much with that.
Post 1

In the Middle East, many bazaars have their own specialty. There are fruit and vegetable bazaars that are set up once a week in each locality. There are also bazaars which are open every day of the week that specialize in cheese and meats, fish, clothing and shoes, household items and even tools.

This was definitely the case in Turkey when I traveled there. The word bazaar had transformed into "pazar" in Turkish, which is also the word for "Sunday." I guess bazaars were originally set up on Sundays there, but now you can find bazaars any day of the week.

I think that the fruit and vegetable bazaars are the most beautiful out of all the different kinds. I had never seen so many different kinds of fruits and veggies together and in such mass amounts. The colors and scents are just delightful. It's one of the most memorable experiences from my visits to the Middle East.

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