Saturday, November 21, 2009

Browsing through Bahia's Mercado Modelo



I think the term "shop til you drop" was created with Bahia's Mercado Modelo in mind. Over 300 handicraft stalls cram three levels, along with a colorful collection of bars and restaurants. Although the Mercado is filled with authentic Bahian culture, from baianas selling acaraje, to capoeira performed at the entrance, the place was clearly created for tourists. So it you're like me and can't stand to go near any silly tourist traps, don't pass up the Mercado. You'll have to haggle and the sheer number of souvenirs, along with huge crowds and echoing noise is overwhelming but its worth the experience.




The paintings reveal a riot of vivid colors and talent. Most of the vendors aren't aggressive and you can browse without being harassed. I think it helped that I was mistaken for a local Baiana, even though my Portuguese is horrifying. I haggled for two small orixa paintings that now hang triumphantly in my hallway.



For music and instrument fans, there's never ending displays of handcrafted drums, flutes and berimbaus, the traditional stringed instrument played during capoeira. This pile of drums was just one of many creative arrangements that I saw.





Ceremonial masks are also popular at the Mercado. Some were imported from Africa and some were carved in Brazil, in honor of various orixas or deities.



Because the African/Brazilian religion of candomble permeates every aspect of daily Brazilian life, figurines and statues of candomble orixas are found everywhere. Here, Xango, deity of thunder and Yemanja, deity of the sea, tempt art lovers and candomble worshippers alike.

14 comments:

Tiffany,Ebony Intuition said...

I really like those drums and figurines very nice.

Catherine said...

I love markets - they are the soul of a place and I would love to visit Bahia to shop and haggle here. I also love buying original art wherever I go - any chance of posting photos of the two paintings you bought??

Fly Girl said...

Tiffany, all the crafts were really tempting!

Catherine, I actually did a very early post on the paintings and other Brazil souvenirs but because you requested, I will do my next post on my Brazillian treasures.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

It looks like a shopper's paradise.

Ekua said...

Oh Bahia, my favorite place in the world! Funny thing about Salvador is that even though touristy places usually repel me, I didn't mind them there. Found lots of cool stuff at the Mercado and had fun bargaining.

Fly Girl said...

Jean-Luc, it was filled with goodies every where I turned.

Ekua, I'm with you. I don't like tourist traps but the Mercado Modelo didn't feel like that to me. I got lots of cool stuff as well. Thanks for dropping by!

Kirsten said...

Wow, looks like a great market with some unique things!

Lauren Quinn said...

Awesome! Bahia has been on my list for a couple years now--cool to get a chance to experience some of it via a great writer!

Fly Girl said...

Kristen, it was, thanks for dropping by.
Laura, I'll be taking you through a few more Bahia excursions, thanks for dropping by!

Footsteps said...

I'm not a big shopper, but that looks fun!

Lola said...

Bahia is definitely on the list. The hubby loves this region of Brazil.

Fly Girl said...

Heather, it is fun with lots of photo opps, even if you don't want to buy!

Lola, I'm sure you'd both love it and recognize quite a few African influences.

Anonymous said...

I have been to this market on a number of occasions and I bought two lovely hand crafted Biana figurines and have accidently broke one of them. Anybody know of where I could purchase a similar one on the web???

michael-kingham@sky.com

Ms Beauty Soul said...

Mercado Modelo is a bit of a tourist trap, but I always have to pass by before I leave Salvador... I especially love to get these coconut sweet things that they have in loads of different flavours... Just discovered your blog and I love it!