Showing posts with label Trade Domes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trade Domes. Show all posts

Friday, November 2, 2012

Uzbekistan | Bukhara | Trade Dome #3 | Dish Girls

From the Abdullah Khan Tim I proceeded 286 feet north to the entrance of the Tok-i-Zagaron (Jewelers’ Bazaar), or Trade Dome #3. Most sources say that this trade dome was built in the 1570s, at the same time as Trade Dome #1 and Trade Dome #2 (See Map of Trade Dome Locations). Based on the construction techniques used in the building, however, some observers say that it may date back to the Timurid Era in the 1400s. This dome once specialized in gold, silver, coral, and other kinds of jewelry. Now it sells the usual assortment of wool, cotton, and silk goods, copper utensils, and spices. A shop on the street just outside the eastern entrance to the dome sells high-quality hand-made knives, both stainless steel for display and black steel for use. 
Trade Dome #3
Another view of Trade Dome #3
Trade Dome #3 with the turquoise domes of Mir-i-Arab Madrassa in the background (Enlargement for a mes)
Western entrance to Trade Dome #3 at night (Enlargement for a mes)
Interior of Trade Dome #3 at night, when the shops are closed
There are also several small shops in the trade dome which open out into the street. This one is run by a husband and wife pair: she designs and makes silk and cotton goods, including dresses, night gowns, and coats; her husband does the selling. 
Woman with silk coat she designed and made, and her husband (Enlargement for a mes) The husband ended up being my unofficial and unpaid guide to the city. Many afternoons he would lock his shop and we would stroll around the city for two or three hours.
Silk Coat (Enlargement for a mes)
Detail of Silk Coat (Enlargement for a mes)
Coats and silk night gowns. The woman told me that biggest buyers of the silk night gowns are Arabs from the Gulf States who come to Bukhara in the summertime (Enlargement for a mes)
Another view of Trade Dome #3 at night (Enlargement for a mes)
From Trade Dome #3 I proceeded 280 feet west to the hangout of the Dish Girls. These are five or six young women who sell ceramics in the street. As I was the only Occidental tourist in town at the time I got a lot of attention from these charming young ladies. My first day in town I made the mistake of telling them my name. For days afterward I would no sooner walk out of Trade Dome #3 280 feet away than they would start jumping up and down and baying at the tops of their lungs, “Don! Don! Don! Come here Don! Don’t forget us Don!!!” Although I was not in the market for ceramics, I would sometimes stop for a chat. They were bored and cold (it was snowing a couple of days), and were eager for any distractions. I noticed that the ringleader of the gang had a new iPhone and commented that she must be making a lot of money selling dishes. “Her boyfriend bought it for her,” shouted one of the other girls. “Your boyfriend must really like you,” I offered. “He’s crazy about her!” shouted another one of the girls. The iPhone owner just smiled demurely. All of these young women spoke very good English; some also spoke French and Japanese, in addition to the local languages of Uzbek, Dari, and Russian. The ringleader said she had never studied English in school but had learned the language from homestudy of a few phrasebooks and tapes and by chatting up tourists like myself. They had a strict hierarchy as far as sales were concerned. If I bought anything I had to buy from the ring-leader first, and then on down the line to the low girl on the totem pole, who appeared to be no more than sixteen years old. I kept telling them I would buy something the next day, but then absconded from town without buying anything. They will probably be lying in wait for me the next time I return to Bukhara. 
One of the Dish Girls (Enlargement for a mes)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Uzbekistan | Bukhara | Abdullah Khan Tim | Carpets

I left the northern entrance to Tok-i-Tilpak Furushon and proceeded along Shah Restan Street 430 feet to the entrance of the Abdullah Khan Tim on the right. While a trading bazaar with several entrances, like Trade Dome #1 and Trade Dome #2, are called tok, a trade arcade with only one entrance is known as a tim. At one time there were at least six tim on this street, plus numerous other bazaars and caravanserais. The Abdullah Khan Tim, the only one now remaining, was built in 1577 by the Shaybinid Abdullah Khan. Once it was one of Bukhara’s most upscale trading venues, specializing in high-quality silk and wool goods. At least fifty small trading booths, many manned by Afghani traders, lined the interior. The center of the tim now serves as a spacious carpet store.
Shah Restan Street, with the entrance to the Abdullah Khan Tim right of center and the Tok-i-Tilpak Furushon (Trade Dome #2) just visible at the end of the street.
Entrance to Abdullah Khan Tim
Interior of Abdullah Khan Tim
Once Bukhara was known the length and breath of the Silk Road for its carpets, and the very term Bukharan Carpet eventually became synonymous with a high-quality—or at least pretending to be high quality—carpet made anywhere in Inner Asia. Now most carpets sold in Bukhara are machine-made in China. Yet the better stores like the Abdullah Khan Tim still stock a few carpets identifiable as Bukharans, although few—if any—are actually made in Bukhara (See Bukhara Carpets). These are instantly recognizable by anyone with even a modicum of knowledge about carpets.  The dealers are cagey about where they are made, but if I had to guess, I would say in Sarakhs, Turkmenistan. 
Bukharan Carpets in the Abdullah Khan Tim
Bukharan Carpets
Bukharan Carpets
 Detail of Bukharan Carpet
 Bukharan Carpets
  Detail of Bukharan Carpet

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Uzbekistan | Bukhara | Trade Dome #2

Backtracking a bit along the Shah Rud Canal from the Khodja Mosque and Gaukushan Madrassa Complex and then turning left and proceeding 510 feet along a row of old caravanserais I soon come to Trade Dome Number Two, or the Tok-i-Tilpak Furushon. This is the old Cap-Maker’s Bazaar where karakul and fur hats and embroidered skull caps were previously sold. The bazaar also served as a bookstore, with more or than twenty stalls selling rare and unusual books and manuscripts. This trade dome differs from the other two in having five portals instead of four leading to the large enclosed center.
Tok-i-Tilpak Furushon
Interior of Tok-i-Tilpak Furushon
In one corner of the interior is a niche holding the tomb of local holy man Ahmad I Paran. The tomb is currently overseen by an old graybeard who collects donations from local people passing through the bazaar. It is not clear if he has any official capacity or has just taken over the area on his own. With his enormous nose and traditional gown, cap, and boots, he appears to have stepped out of an nineteenth century Orientalist water color. He often shouts abuse at any strangers lingering too long by the tomb or attempting to take photos and if you attempt to take his photo he might just attack you with a broom. Now the dome hosts one large carpet store, a shop with fairly well done drawings and water colors, and the usual assortment of silk and woolen goods.
 Tomb of Ahmad I Paran
Tomb of Ahmad I Paran. Photo taken while the overseer was on a break.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Uzbekistan | Bukhara | Trade Dome #1

After returning from My Sojourn to Nurata I continued my peregrinations of Bukhara. I pretty much had the city to myself. From March 1 to March 12 I was the only guest in the Guesthouse Where I Was Staying, and as far I could tell I was the only Occidental tourist in the whole town. There were of course other tourists and pilgrims in Bukhara, but the vast majority of these seemed to be from other areas of Uzbekistan and from neighboring Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, with a smattering from other countries of the Asian-Islamic geosphere. The men from these all of these places were obvious from the fact that almost 100% of them wore black leather coats and jackets.

I had chosen to come to Bukhara in the off-season (as far as Occidental tourists were concerned) both to avoid the sweltering heat I had experienced during a Previous Trip to Bukhara in June and to take advantage of the cheaper off-season rates at the hotels. Having spent the winter in Ulaanbaatar, where the temperatures had gone done to 40 below zero Fº and where it still well below 0 Fº when I left I was not expecting the late winter/early spring weather in Bukhara to be a problem. Indeed, I had checked the temperatures in Bukhara every day for a week before I left and it was getting up into the 60s F. most afternoons. I had a down jacket in my portmanteau, but at the last moment, seeing these balmy temperatures, I had taken it out. 

Now the weather was not cooperating. It was below freezing every night and there was no central heating in the guesthouse where I was staying. I had to put on every piece of clothing I had brought along just to sit in the dining room for breakfast, and in the afternoons the temperatures outside remained in the low 30s F. Plus it was very windy and the air was surprisingly damp, all of which made it seem much colder than it was. I quickly discovered that the light jacket I had brought along was barely adequate. Still, I ventured out every morning and spent most of the day exploring the city on foot. 

From my guesthouse I would walk about 800 feet to the first of Bukhara’s three trade domes. Originally there were five of these trade domes at the intersections of the main commercial streets, all built in the 1580s during a resurgence of commerce on the old Silk Road. Today only three remain. The one nearest to my guesthouse is known locally as Trade Dome Number One, or the Tok-i-Sarrafon (a tok is a vaulted and domed bazaar). This was originally the Money-Changer’s Bazaar. Here congregated Armenians, Afghans, Punjabis and others who exchanged the wild array of notes and coins that flooded into Bukhara from the far reaches of the Silk Road for the bronze, silver, and gold coins that served as legal tender in the city’s markets. The Armenians, who were Christians, and the Punjabis, who were probably Hindus (although there could have been some Jains among them) also engaged in lending out money at interest, something with the Moslem money-changers were prohibited from doing by the strictures of their religion.
Trade Dome Number One, or the Tok-i-Sarrafon (Enlargement for a mes) 
Another entrance to Tok-i-Sarrafon
View of the Dome in Tok-i-Sarrafon.
The money-changers are long-gone (except for the black market money changers who now loiter around just outside the entrances to the dome). During the day the shops inside now sell the usual assortment of silk scarves, woolen tote bags, pillow cases, small carpets, and various souvenirs; one shop displays the work of a fairly good miniaturist. There is usually stuff laid out on the floor for sale also. This photo was taken in the morning before the shops were open. The dome itself stays open all night; there are no doors on the entrances.
View of two of the four entrances to Tok-i-Sarrafon (Enlargement for a mes)