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.


This one calls –

“Kuei hua kang lao
T’ien pao t’sui
Tzu erh po po.”

This peddler carries a round wooden box “yuan lung” on his arm. This box has four sections and in it he carries three kinds of articles for sale:

(1) The “kang lao” is a kind of flat round cake made from flour and sugar flavored with cinnamon (“kuei hua”).

(2) The “pao t’sui” is a very thin dry cracker about the size of a griddle cake but almost as thin as paper. It is made of flour and water and flavored with sesame seed.

(3) The “tzu erh po po” is a small cake made of flour, water and sugar. A wooden mould is used to cut the batter into small flower shaped cakes which are cooked until very hard – like pebbles – hence the name “tzu erh”. These are made very hard so as to keep the younger generation busy eating one candy for a long time – like an “all day sucker”.