第26章 Beijing folk culture(5)

Cabbage (cabbage used to be the main vegetable for Beijing residents during the long winter, each family would store many before winter came): Store cabbages! Cabbages with green leaves! Store cabbages in cellar!

Charcoal, firewood: Come and get charcoal by each piece! Come and get thoroughly dried firewood!

Lunar calendar: Big calendars! Pictured for each month!

Turnip: Better than pear! Change for free if it"s spicy! Crispy turnip, purple and beautiful inside! Guandong candy (made with malt and millet, it is sold before the Spring Festival as an offering to the God of Stove): Guandong candy!

New Year painting (often in pairs, the painting is put on the front door in the Spring Festival): New Year paintings! Antithetic couplets to put on the door! On courtyard gates, on room doors! If you get a horizontal calligraphy work (for the door lintel to go with the vertical couplets), I"ll send you the fu (happiness, often put upside down between the couplets to invite good fortune) for free!

Lunar calendar

fronsportotion in oldBeijing


Carts driven by horses, donkeys and mules were comm on in Beijing. Mules became more popular than the other two during the rule of Emperor Qianlong in the 18th centmy. Mule carts were also available at certain stops along the streets.

Jiaozi (sedan chair):

Originated from chariots, sedan chair was one of the m ost common means of transportation in

Beijing. There were two, four or even eight carriers for one sedan chair according to the social status and afll.uence of the owner.

Form ed like a s ledge wit h a wooden board over two iron sticks that glide over ice, the ice bed was an old means of transportation and it also gave m uch fun. The rider would cover the legs with a quilt as the driver propelled the sledge forward. Before the water level became too low in the moat, many people made a living by driving the ice bed.


Also called jinriksha (renliche in Chinese), the cart had hard rubber wheels before pumped tire appeared in the 1900s. Rickshaw Xiangzi, a famous character in Lao She"s novel of the same title, was dragging such a new rickshaw. There were tens of thousands of such rickshaws in the 1920s as the chief means of transportation in the city.

Bicycle, tricycle and tramcar

The first bicycles appeared in Beijing during the rule of Emperor Guangxu at the beginning of the

20th century. A folk song describes the novelty: "The rider holds his arms and shoulders high and looks straight ahead. He bends as if making a bow. At a loud sound from behind, the pedestrians all hurry aside to give way to the bicycle."

The tricycle was invented combining the bicycle and the rickshaw. It appeared in 1937 and quickly replaced the rickshaw on the streets.

The tramcar was nicknamed "whistle car" as the driver stepped on a bell with his foot and it whistled. The first tramcars entered into service in 1924 in Beijing.

It wasn"t until the 1920s that the first cars began to appear on Beijing"s streets. The rare vehicles were reserved for foreign dignitaries. Although public buses appeared in the 1930s, it would take them a long time to become the main medium of public transport.


Beijing has always been a transportation hubbub, linking nearby areas with routes both on land and by river. Mules and horses dragged carts along roads to Northeast China from Dongzhimen, to the north and northwest from Deshengmen, and to the south from Lugou Bridge. Outside Chaoyangmen, one could take a boat or walk along the Tonghui River for some 20 km to reach the port at Zhangjiawan in Tongxian (today"s Tongzhou District). This is the northern beginning of the Grand Canal that was constructed all the way south to Hangzhou of Jiangsu Province some 1,500 years ago. There were many rivers inside and outside the city, allowing people to sail in boats conveniently. In the Yuan Dynasty, huge cargo ships could sail all the way from eastern China to Jishuitan at the center of Beijing. Sadly, much of the waterway has been destructed in war or neglected. The Beijing municipal government is trying to restore parts of the ancient water system.


In the past, camel was an important beast of burden as it is tame and durable. In the 13th century, camels were involved in the construction of Dadu, the name of Beijing given by Kublai Khan as the Grand Capital of the Yuan Dynasty. The worthy animals retired from public sight in the 1950s. For some 700 years, camels had contributed to the founding and prospering of Beijing.

Children"s games

Throwing sandbag

The fist-sized sandbag is made of cloth and contains sand or grain. The player holds the sandbag with both toes and jumps up, throwing it forward as far as possible.

Hitting sandbag

Two lines are drawn on the ground, at 8 or 10 m apart. Two children stand on each line, with a runner between them. The two try to hit the runner. But if the runner catches the sandbag, he or she gains a point.

Shooting glass balls

Some glass balls have three colorful leaves inside while others are just transparent. The player holds the glass ball with the thumb and index finger, then bounces it out toward the five small pits dug on the ground. The one who can get the glass ball into all five pits with the least attempts wins the game.

Whipping a top

The circular cone-shaped spinning top is made of wood and has a small iron ball inlaid at the bottom. It normally measures 6 cm high and 4 cm in diameter. The player whips it on the ground to keep it spinning.

Jumping the rubber band

Two children hold the rubber band or elastic cord about 5 m long. One or more players are required to step on or over the band while singing various tunes that require different dance steps.

Playing the joints

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