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 peddler carries a small drum about six inches in diameter which is fastened to the end of a stick. When the stick is twirled in the fingers the drum is struck by two small knots or other small objects fastened to the sides of the drum with strings. On the top of the drum is fastened a small gong about three inches in diameter. This also has two leather thongs with knots or buttons tied on the ends. The stick is twirled with the right hand, drum and gong pointing downward and both sound at the same time.

On the peddler’s left shoulder is swung a box about two feet wide and three feet high containing his wares which are arranged on small shelves inside. This peddler sells combs, hair oil, tooth brushes, tongue scrapers, face powder, small scissors and thimbles. He also carries a small assortment of needles and thread but the articles first named are his main stock.

The thimbles sold are interesting. They are small circles of brass, more like a broad flat ring with dents in it to catch the head of the needle. Their use would present difficulties to the Occidental seamstress who is used to having a thimble which covers the whole tip of the finger.