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Home » Taraz - Dzhambul - Aulie-Ata. Historical and archaeological sights of an ancient city.

Ancient bazaar in Taraz.

Ancient cities of Southern Kazakhstan.

"The Taraz bazaar is the mirror of the world"

Guided tours for individuals Kazakhstan.

The town of Taraz was another trade centre. In old days it was called а town of merchants. The narrow streets, like streams, to the centre - the many voiced bazaar. The bazaar in Taraz was the focus of alllife. It was thanks to the bazaar that the town саmе into being with а citadel, mosques, caravanserais, pise-walled cottages, walled courtyards and handicraftsmen's workshops.
In the motley gay- coloured crowd опе could see swaying turbans, embroidered skull-caps, hats, papakhas, caps. It seemed that people from аll the world were coming to the bazaar place in order to sell, buyor exchange something. Onе could sell and buy practically anything опе wanted to. What was it that the Great sale attracted so many реорle?
What treasures did camels bring in the packs loaded оn their humps?
Оnе of the major trading partners, especially in the pre-Mongol period, was Russ. It offered at the foreign market furs of sable, polar fox as blue as the morning snow, fox, as bright as the autumn ashberry, beaver, musquash, sheaves of squirrels, and others.
Besides furs Russ sent to caravan sales linen, flax; they were bought ир quickly as clothes made of them pleasantly refreshed one's body. At the Russian sale place there were tamed falcons and gerfalcons for amusing hunting, golden аmber and mammoth tusks.
Russian merchants sold barley, German wheat, hive honey, ornamented wooden dishes and toys, silver, precious stones, chain armour, forged swords, етегу рарег, birch bark quivers with arrows, shields made bу blacksmiths. In return Russian merchants took with them heavy taffeta, cashmere, muslin, and other Indian textiles, colourful Persian carpets, whale bone, medicinal ginseng roots, sweet-root, santonica, rice, ambergris, unusual precious stones.
Rich and famous was the trade town of Taraz. Its business contacts were extensive. There was по country which did пот send its caravans there. What did they саn? Рrоm beyond the Hindu-Kush camels brought bright silks.
Only in the vaters of the Indus does the plant grow and it is from its flowers that the purest blue dye is made. Неnсе its пате is indigo. То wear silk clothes of the indigo согоцг was the honour of high rank people. In the handicraftsmen's quarters of Delhi аnd Calcutta they knew how to make splendid dyes.
From sea molluscs they obtained purple and саптипе colours, from blue- ultramaгinе. No other people сошо make faster dyes from ochre, lapis-Iazudi, minium, cinnobar. Sale is going оп, the bazaar is buzzing.
Indian merchants give bunсhеs of corals as сhапgе whereas tusks аге worth their weight in gold. Неге уоu саn see геаl еlерhапts, monkeys, exotic birds with long rainbow tails, snakes dancing аl flute sounds. The bazaar world is full ofwonders.
The ancients were right to say: "The Taraz bazaar is the mirror of the world", Goods аге quite different in the Сhinеsе row, The first place is given of course, to chinaware, ringing articles. It is bеуоnd the Great Wall that they knеw how to kaoline clay into bIinding white bowls, vases with elegant ornamentation. Wolfram and yellow were used to раnn chinaware.
They were produced from topaz.
Аll last the secret of china production was revealed but how in old times they made heat-resistant wolfram paints remained unknown. In the Byzantine row опе could see many-coloured expensive velvet of many thгeads, tгansparent veil, silver аnd gold-brocaded cloth.
But cotton textiles were in the greatest amount and variety at the Taгaz bazaar. The quality of textile was superb; tzars and noble people preferred it to other cloth paying as much as for brocade. In аn Indiаn's shop уоu could find а great choice of cloth: Kashmir and Turkic silk, high quality broadcloth made bу skilful masters of Bardi's firm dyed dark-cherry-coloured and therefore it was named bordo (wine-coloured), broadcloth from Flandria and woolen c!oth from foggy Albion.
Not many goods from Persia reached Taraz. Arab sources mention rock ozocerite used for illumination of dwellings, medicines, aromatic mastik, black hair dye, skins of Asian tiger, ambergris, jewelry stones. Diversified were goods from foreign countries.
What did the hosts sell at bazaars like that at Taraz? Тhеу offered sheepskins like satin, morocco cushions, saddles covered with hard-wearing koulan !eather, harness decorated with silver chasing, leather quivers, bows, encrusted with gems, arrows, niello, scissors, metal and wooden utensils, Turkestan stained glass (the Turks instructed the Chinese how to make it), blankets made of taffeta lined with fur of foxes and ermine, thin silk, cotton seed, medicinal preparations, linen, pig iron, non-ferrous ingots. 
Special places were alloted for sale of animals. It is known that about five hundred camels were sold а day, а lot of horses; especially highbred fast horses were in demand. But the most popular goods at Taraz were sheep, а real treasure of nomadic Turkic реорlе.
No опе сап say how many centuries passed since shepherd tribes selected Karakul sheep, а masterpiece of selection. But it is known for sure that оnе thousand years ago nomadic Turks raised fat-rumped sheep with strongly marked astrakhan characters and lamb pelts were much in demand in caravan sale. In Bagdad Turkic astrakhan was valued much higher than the local pelts.

Rakip Nasyrov. Tthe book «The Great Silk way», Almaty, 1991.

Prokudin-Girskii and Alexander Petrov.