A Tour of the Kurdish Bazaar - Through a Foreigner's Lens

AlexAndrea Tendasi*

To my delight my friend and colleague tells me about this Kurdish Bookshelf Blog from which he will promote Kurdish language, literature and culture. Raber and I share related avocations as well as similar vocations. I am excited for him and for those who will visit and or use the Blog.

Occasionally Raber will indulge me with a captivating story from his life while growing up in Erbil. From running and dodging bullies through the streets of the Citadel or visiting his grandfather’s village in excitement of the Dewara (a vendor who traveled from village to village carrying an assortment of colorful fabrics, women’s scarves, and candies for the villagers. Usually the Dewara had a donkey, mule, or a horse) my memory is forever imprinted with vivid colors and textures of this beautiful ancient city and surrounding countryside.  Each story becomes a photograph for me.

I would like to contribute to the Kurdish Bookshelf with the photographs I have taken during my journeys in Kurdistan.

There's of course more photos coming in the future. This one focuses on one area, or one aspect of Kurdish culture, others will focus on different places and aspects. 

Bazari Qaisari (or the Qaisari Market) is a very old market not only in Erbil, but also in the whole country that dates back to centuries ago.  Recently renovated (part of it still under renovation - with the original design and structure kept intact) the Bazar a situated at the foot of the ancient Erbil Citadel in the center of Erbil city (where urban life dates back to around 8,000 years ago as the oldest continually inhabited city in the world). With the maze of narrow alleys, you will definitely get lost in the Bazar unless you have a local with you, or otherwise you have lived here for a while). The shops that are typical of the Qaisari Barzar include traditional Kurdish costumes and tailors, jewelers, dried food, and other local, old crafts like carpenters, blacksmiths, Kurdish-shoe makers, etc)

The Qaisari Bazar

Dried food, nuts, and delights are very common here. In this picture, you can see rolls of delights (1st from right), Sujuq (a kind of delight with walnut inside the rolls), and dried figs)

Walnuts and Pistachio are native of this region. especially the area to the east of Suleymani province has forests of walnut and pistachio trees. 
In the past, dried food was a major source of nutrition in the winter, in addition to some products from grains mainly wheat. People dried grapes, figs, berries, cherries, apricots, tomatoes, parsley, and other vegetables. 

Utensils shop in the Qaisari Bazar

Dried food and nuts shop

A different corner of the Qaisari Bazar

Vendor selling different types of dates. Although palm trees are not native to Kurdistan, people enjoy dates imported from other parts of Iraq and other Arab countries. It is delicious! natural candy. People especially like dates during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, as a tradition, when they are fasting all day long for a month and break their fast with dates at sunset. 

The need for ice has always been there. Used for various purposes from cold drinking water and other drinks in summer, to keeping food and meat fresh. Kurdistan has a power shortage issue these days, but historically people used to go to the mountains to bring ice for such purposes. In some villages where it snowed but only for a short during the winter, people would dig up really big and deep pits in the shady side of the mountains which they filled with the snow when it snowed, and elders say that the ice they saved in those pits remained until the hottest days of summer when people went and dug up ice from those pits to enjoy cold drinks.
Another part of the Qaisari where renovation has not been finished yet. On the right is a shop that sells rosaries and beads.

And a full view of the little rosary shop. 

* AlexAndrea Tendasi currently works in international development.  She is also an avid photographer and writes poetry. AlexAndrea Tendasi  is a pen name the writer uses in honor of the most influential people in her life, her son, daughter and grandmother. 


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