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.


The second kind of match peddler is the old woman who carries a basket on her back. She does business on a much smaller scale and trades her matches for scrap paper and scraps of torn cloth. Sometimes these old women also carry a few cakes of soap for trade but their capital is only a few coppers, so they cannot have any sort of stock. These poor souls take their scraps and rags to a place just outside Ch’i Hua Men, “Ch’ihuamen Gate” where they sell them to small merchants for making paper.

These old women call out in a very shrill and piercing voice –

“Huan ch’u teng erh”
“Exchange matches” or
“Huan ch’u teng erh lai”
“Come and trade matches”.