For many native Beijing residents, street vendor cries used to be an important part of life in their childhood some 50 years ago. However, this traditional way of life now has become only a memory of the past and is submerged in the city's modernization process. Now the municipal government intends to bring the old memories back again. An official at the Chongwen district government said last Thursday that traditional Beijing street hawkers' cries would be performed at the upcoming Longtan Temple Fair, the largest temple fair in Beijing to celebrate the Spring Festival.
Traditional peddlers' cries used to be a common feature of city life in Beijing: in a summer afternoon, when beams of sunlight shone in the courtyard of a quadrangle house, people would hear the street cries in the distance drifting into their ears -- cries of hawkers selling peppermint pastries or cold, sweet buckwheat cakes. The cries displayed a relaxed life of the old Beijing people in the past. Yet, as more and more skyscrapers loom large in the skyline, the street hawkers gradually disappeared amid steel and concrete.
Many old Beijing natives, especially those who had lived overseas for many years, complained that when they came back to Beijing, they were disappointed to find that they could no longer hear such cries any more. Many overseas Chinese urged that something should be done to save the street cries. Their efforts aroused the government's attention.
Last year, the Chongwen district government in Beijing applied to the state to include these street cries as the national intangible cultural heritage. Many street cries in Beijing originated from the Chongwen district. Later, a folk culture art troupe was established by the Chongwen Cultural Center. In a year, the art troupe had paid visits to over ten folk artists who were considered as experts on street cries and collected 600 kinds of street cries. Later, they arranged these street cries and made them into a stage play.
The folk culture art troupe will make their debut from February 17 to 24， 2007 when the Longtan Temple Fair is being held. During the temple fair, they will perform their stage play on street cries. The stage play, lasting for two hours, will be shown twice in a day and for eight days consecutively.
By then, the folk artists will show how these street cries were performed in the past. It is believed that their excellent performance will bring back the memories of many old Beijingers.
(Chinanews.cn January 23, 2007)