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Peken in Bali (Traditional Market)  

by on Friday, 22 December 2006No Comment | 2,636 views

Despite the rapid expansion of supermarket and mall, Peken (traditional market) still hold its ground. The peken (traditional market) in Bali can be found in each village especially in rural area. The meaning of the word “peken” is not “market” but equivalent to the words “gather” in English. The Balinese put the emphasis on the gathering side of the market activity. The peken (traditional market) is usually situated in the heart of the village, beside of village temple (usually on the south side of village temple), under the banyan tree or strategic open place. The peken (traditional market) is usually held everyday. Some peken (traditional market) is held on specific day, called “pasaran”, this “pasaran” comes every three day based on three days-week system (viz. pasah, beteng/pasaran, and kajeng), while the cattle market is held on Wednesday and Sunday.

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The peken (traditional market) starts at 4 AM and subsides at 9 AM. The peken (traditional market) reaches its height at 6 to 7 AM. At that time the animation is very great and the market resound with excited bargaining, the constant coming and going of the people. The thousand smells of coconut oil, flowers, spices, and dried fish combine to make a pungent smell, the smell of traditional Balinese market. The peken (traditional market) subsides at 9 AM the buyers return home loaded with the merchandise they have bought and the merchants return home with empty basket and loaded pockets.

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The peken (traditional market) in Bali is a women zone. The women are the financiers that control the market. Almost all the merchants and most of the buyers in the peken (traditional market) are women. A man goes to the market except he is a merchant is still considered as a disgrace by some Balinese men especially in rural area.

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The prices in the peken (traditional market) vary according to the buyer; they are lower to the villager in his hometown and higher for the outsider. The skill of bargaining is essential when we want to purchase something in the peken (traditional market). There is no fixed price; the best buyer is the one who get the cheapest price. The merchants usually have many ways to attract the buyers; the merchants will give their gegarus (initial offer) which usually has lower price than the normal price. However, we do not know for sure whether it is really cheaper or higher than the normal price. If we further bargain, they may say that they slightly mark-up the price just for a ‘fee’ of waiting in the shop. This may be the so-called ‘dialect of traditional markets.’ For foreign visitors, they may offer a ‘morning price’ even though the visit is not made on that morning.

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Each peken (traditional market) has its own market temple known as Pura Melanting, the abode of Dewi Melanting, the deity of the peken (traditional market) and merchant. The merchants always give offering and pray for a good luck in this temple before they start their trade.

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