The photos of these series were made on the Bazaars of Tabriz, Zanjan and Sanandaj in the Northwest of the country.
Although the Iranian wholesale and retail market is changing and the Bazaar has to compete increasingly with shopping malls and supermarkets, its aisles and alleys are still crowded day by day. For a lot of Iranians, it is still normal to provide themselves there with goods of daily needs.
The shop owners have quite a bad reputation in Iranian society. Arang Keshavarzian summarizes it in his publication „Bazar and State in Iran“ (2007, Cambridge University Press, pages 54-55) as follows:
“The disparaging of the bazaari begins with his physical appearance. In movies, newspaper caricatures, and literary descriptions, the bazaari is represented as a middle-aged, overweight, and physically unattractive man with ‘meaty and hairy hands’. He is unshaven, unkept, and wearing the same simple clothes every day, and we are to infer that physical appearance is meaningless to him, with the pursuit of wealth an end in and of itself or a way to satisfy his greed and gluttony. Since he is old-fashioned and religious, he is often bearded and fingering prayer beads. He is shown calculating large sums of money on an abacus or pencil and paper, rather than a calculator or a computer. These large sums, moreover, are viewed as windfall profits derived from usury, for the bazaari is known to be unscrupulous, conniving, and materialistic.“
I cannot judge so hard from my experience – the Bazaaris I’ve met where in the same way generous and neat like other Iranians…