The markets offer a close and fierce intimacy with the traders who sell their wares. This 19th century poem captures the thrilling encounter with objects foreign and familiar while strolling through the colourful chaos of a bazaar.
In The Bazaars of Hyderabad
What do you sell, O ye merchants?
Richly your wares are displayed,
Turbans of crimson and silver,
Tunics of purple brocade,
Mirrors with panels of amber,
Daggers with handles of jade.
What do you weigh, O ye vendors?
Saffron, lentil and rice.
What do you grind, O ye maidens?
Sandalwood, henna and spice.
What do you call, O ye pedlars?
Chessmen and ivory dice.
What do you make, O ye goldsmiths?
Wristlet and anklet and ring,
Bells for the feet of blue pigeons,
Frail as a dragon-fly’s wing,
Girdles of gold for the dancers,
Scabbards of gold for the king.
What do you cry, O fruitmen?
Citron, pomegranate and plum.
What do you play, O ye musicians?
Sitar, Sarangi and drum.
What do you chant, O magicians?
Spells for the aeons to come.
What do you weave, O ye flower-girls?
With tassels of azure and red?
Crowns for the brow of a bridegroom,
Chaplets to garland his bed,
Sheets of white blossoms new-gathered
To perfume the sleep of the dead.
Shopkeeper Stories is a photographic documentary of traders with their wares around the world. You can browse the project on this site and also on Facebook and Instagram – just look for @ShopkeeperStories!