In any case, whatever the wares, turnover is very high, and volume in any one sale very small. Goods flow through the market channels at a dizzying rate, not as broad torrents but as hundreds of little trickles, funneled through an enormous number of transactions. And this flow of goods is anything but direct: the proportion of retail sales (in the sense of sale to a consumer) to whole-sale sales (in the sense of sale to another seller) within the pasar is rather small. Commodities, at least non-perishable ones, once injected into the market network tend to move in circles, passing from trader to trader for a fairly extended period before they come within the reach of a genuine consumer. One piece of cloth often has ten or a dozen owners between the time it leaves the Chinese-owned factory in a nearby city and the time it is finally sold to someone in a Modjukuto village who seems likely to use it. A basket of maize may be sold by a peasant to a local village trader, who carries it to market and sells it to a second trader, who in tern sells it to a larger market-trader, who gathers it together with similar baskets from other petty traders and sells it to a local Chinese, sho ships it to Surabaja to another Chinese, after which it may begin the whole process in reverse in some other area. Like Javanese agriculture, Javanese trading is highly labor intensive; and perhaps the best, if slightly caricatured image for it is that of a long line of men passing bricks from hand to hand over some greatly extended distance to build, slowly and brick by brick, a large wall.

Geertz, Clifford. 1963. Peddlers and Princes: Social change and economic modernization in two Indonesian towns. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p.31.