Calls and sounds of the Peking street peddlers

Paintings of street sellers and descriptions of their cries and jingles from Samuel Victor Constant's Calls, Sounds and Merchandise of the Peking Street Peddlers, written in 1936 as a master's thesis at the College of Chinese Studies.


These peddlers have a “t’iao tzu” – on either end of which is a large basket made from thorn tree branches (ching t’iao k’uang). In these baskets is carried charcoal. He calls out “t’an lai, yao ling t’an”, “Come and get your charcoal, I weigh it out in small quantities.”

The charcoal peddlers have a call and also a drum about eighteen inches wide and three inches thick. This is carried by a handle stuck in the side. Two thongs are also fastened in the side of the drum which strike with a peculiar dull thud which is characteristic of the charcoal peddler.

These men appear on the streets about three in the afternoon and sell charcoal until about ten at night. People prepare in advance for the morning fires and so the peddlers do not start to sell charcoal until the afternoon.