Category Archives: Markets

Sidi Bou Said: the tourists return


When I last visited Sidi Bou Said, just to the north of Tunis, in November 2015 it was almost deserted, with tourists from across the world having largely chosen to go elsewhere following the shootings near Sousse in June of that year.  I remember being saddened about the very visible loss of income for the many small traders who had previously made their livings selling souvenirs from the numerous small shops that lined its main streets. Revisiting the village yesterday on a beautiful warm, sunny day, with a cool breeze freshening the air, it was good to see the lively buzz of visitors filling the streets.  It is a beautiful village, with the blue doors and shutters (reputedly to thwart mosquitoes) contrasting starkly with the whitewashed walls of the buildings.

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It was also great to find that my favourite restaurant in the village, Au Bon Vieux Temps, was still there, and serving food as good as it has always done.  The only sad thing was that the traders seemed very much more aggressive than I recall even in the dark days of 2015.  A well-traveled friend and colleague reckoned it was the worst hassle he had ever experienced in a tourist resort!  I had to agree, which is sad, because they would achieve very many more sales if they were a little bit less aggressive.  Be warned, but go and enjoy Sidi Bou Said nonetheless.

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Filed under Africa, Development, Markets, Photographs

Dilli Haat


I’m amazed that on my previous visit to Delhi no-one mentioned that I might like to explore the craft village of Dilli Haat in southern Delhi.  Perhaps I was previously simply too busy working!  However, one day last week over breakfast in the Faculty Guest House at IIT Delhi, a colleague suggested that it was not far away, and if I had time I should try to visit.  So, I made time this Saturday afternoon, with the temperature well over 95o F (35oC), to set off and explore.

The Haat (market), which opened in 1994, is run by the Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation, and includes craft stalls from many different parts of India, as well as food sellers, and a stage.  Having paid a small entrance fee (100 INR for a foreigner), one is free just to wander and explore.  In some parts of the market, brightly coloured cloth covers the alleyways, and in others the stalls are set along a sort of arcade.  There is a huge range of craft produce from many different regions of the country for sale, including clothes (mainly for women), jewellery, woodwork, pottery, spices, brass goods, leather work, musical instruments, and mother of pearl bowls.  One of the nicest things is that it was not very crowded, and few traders were overly-persistent in trying to make a sale.  Those near the back of the market clearly received less business, and so some good deals can be struck there, but other traders stated clearly that there were fixed prices.  Certainly, there is a premium to be paid over the price of goods that can be found elsewhere in the city, but the quality is good, and having so much to choose from in one place makes shopping for gifts most enjoyable!

The diversity of products, the richness of colour, as well as the taste and smells of the market all made for a wonderful couple of hours exploration, and I hope that the pictures below capture something of the essence of the place.

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Thanks so much once again to Anushruti Vagrani for taking me there, and helping me negotiate!

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Filed under India, Markets, Markets, Photographs

Hats (periodic markets) in South Bihar, 1976-1977


This is the last, and most important, in my series of images from 1976 and 1977 when I was in what was then South Bihar (now Jharkhand) in India.  I had the enormous privilege of assisting Sudhir Wanmali who was then undertaking research on the hats, or periodic markets in Singbhum District.  He taught me so much, not formally but just by being with him, watching and listening to how he interviewed, and above all by seeing the ways in which he interacted with people.  His wisdom, enthusiasm, generosity and passion for research were, and indeed still are, inspirational.

The hats are markets that take place regularly in different locations, and provide an opportunity not only for rural people to sell to the itinerant traders and others in the market, but also to buy things that they need and do not produce themselves.  As the following images show, it was possible to buy and sell almost anything you might need there, from the cloth, pots and brightly coloured glass bangles brought in by traders, to sweet potatoes, onions, tomatoes and many other vegetables, as well as the cattle and goats being sold by the farmers.  Some traders also collected products such as lac, collected in the forests by the people who lived there, and others would also buy up small amounts of paddy that farmers brought for sale. At the end of the day, I remember rice beer being sold in simple cups made of leaves.  The pictures below are mainly from places such as Bangaon, Hat Gamharia, Nakti, Tebo and Jagannathpur.

Sudhir’s work was published in an excellent monograph – Wanmali, S. (1981) Periodic Markets and Rural Development in India, Delhi: BR – but is also written up in other papers, including:

At the time, I was also working on medieval England and drew parallels between marketing systems that had been created there in the 14th century, and those that I had experienced in Singbhum. This was published as:

  • T. Unwin (1981) Rural marketing in medieval Nottinghamshire, Journal of Historical Geography, 7, 231–51.

I very much hope that these pictures, now some 40 years old, not only contribute to the archive of Jharkhand’s past, but also reflect the beauty of this special part of the world.  I often wonder how the lives of the many people I met there turned out…

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Filed under India, Jharkhand, Markets, Photographs, South Bihar, Uncategorized