Last week, Tehran’s Grand Bazaar was shut, with its example imitated in the capital’s other business districts such as Maqsud-Shah, Qaysarieh, Khayyam, Sayyed Vali and Pachenar, among others. At the same time, bazaars in several other cities, notably Isfahan, Mash’had, Bandar Abbas, Kerman and Tabriz also organized token strikes in sympathy with Tehrani merchants.
Shutting the Grand Bazaar is not easy and had not happened since the heady days of 1978-79, when the uprising against the Shah was heading for its peak.
The Grand Bazaar consists of over 40 interlinked passages covering a total distance of 10.6 kilometers. The passages are divided into 20 segments, each specializing in some trade, from food-shops, to goldsmith workshops to carpet show-rooms to whatever a mega-city of almost 15 million inhabitants might need.
However, the Grand Bazaar is not just a mega shopping mall; it is the core of a whole way of life.
It contains six mosques, 30 hotels, more than 20 banks, six libraries, nine religious seminaries, 13 primary and secondary schools, two theaters, and a “House of Force” (zurkhaneh) where actual or putative “tough guys” practice traditional wrestling and body-building.