Street Market (*)
"Street markets are ancient socio-economic events and were known by Greeks and Romans. Amongst
the Romans, because of markets public implications, it was established that the rules for their creation
and functioning depended on state intervention and support. The role of market places became truly
important since the so called commercial revolution, in the 11th century. From there on, street markets
increased in number until the 13th century." (Luso-Brasileira Enciclopedia - 1995, Volume. 8 page. 502)
There are street markets in Brazil since the time when the country was still a Portuguese colony. Despite
the "modern times" and the problems they cause in big cities street markets were never extinguished. In many
areas in the countryside they are the most important place of trade (and sometimes the only one). Many
times they are also cultural and leisure centers.
Those street markets must have started long ago, when people used to gather periodically in some
pre-determined city area to sell their products or even trade them for other goods. As time went by the
population grew bigger and the public power intervened in order to organize, control and, of course,
Street markets are noisy, always crowded and colorful. Maybe that's why they catch our attention at first
sight. The color of fruits and vegetables at the sunlit stalls filtered through the tarpaulin canopies creates a
wonderful sight. In some places the sun light passes right through the cracks and gaps between the stalls
creating an amazing light.
The vendors yell announcing the quality of their products and assuring they offer the best price in the market...
People walk around, examine the products, try to negotiate prices or simply search for what they want to buy.
Some people already have their favorite stalls, know the vendor for ages and sometimes seem to be more of
a friend than a costumer. In many market stalls you can see the vendors belong to the same family. Amid all
that, you can see street vendors with boards on top of wooden boxes or simply on the floor taking advantage
of the market to sell many products. Boys offer to help people carry their bags. Briefly: a perfectly organized
"mess" where everything seems to work at the right time and place.
If you observe the street market from the outside it seems like a theater full of characters, each with their
own story. A place full of smells and sounds that take us back to the past and maybe to our childhood. A place
with its own colors and lights yet to be discovered, explored and... photographed.
(*) Pictures taken in a Rio de Janeiro south zone street market.