Black and white photograph showing an elderly man crouching in front of a box of thread on a dirt road, holding a hand drum in his right hand which he uses to advertise his wares. Inside the lid of the box, a slogan has been written in Chinese characters ('A sea of wine, a mountain of meat' implying an abundance of these luxury goods). In the background a brick wall can be seen with ceramic pots piled up against it.
This vendor uses a small rattle drum which he twists with his finger causing the beads on string attached to the frame to hit the small drum and emit a distinctive sound to alert his customers. His wares are carried in a wooden box bearing the inscription 'mountains of meat and oceans of wine' ('roushan jiuhai') which indicates that the box has been recycled and was previously used to sell meat.
This is one of a large number of photographs of street life and street vendors that were taken by Hedda Morrison (1908-1991) during her years of residence in Peking (Beijing), China 1933-1946.
Exhibited in 'An Asian experience: 1933-67', organised by the Asian Studies Association of Australia, Fisher Library Foyer, University of Sydney, 12-30 May 1986. Reproduced in Hedda Morrison, 'A photographer in Old Peking', Hong Kong, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1985, p. 121, with the caption: 'A seller of sewing thread advertising his ware with a hand drum'.
Gift of Mr Alastair Morrison, 1992
Chinese characters: top left 'wine', bottom left 'sea'; top right 'meat', bottom right 'mountain'. Means something like, 'a sea of wine, a mountain of meat'. Implies an abundance of these luxury goods.