At the busy cage meeting, the stall owner who sells agricultural tools is different from the stall owner who sells daily groceries, does not shout, does not shout, does not shout, does not shout, and buys agricultural tools to the stall, looks at the hand, and uses it to get the price. But there is a stall that is different, far away you can hear a burst of tinkling crockpot knocking and the stall owner with a thick Shandong accent shouting, the stall has a large area, the large has the fireproof old urn on the wheat field, the large water tank storing water at home, the small raw bean sprout clay pot, the crockpot for delivering rice, and then the smaller one is the porcelain bowl and porcelain plate of the eating guy who can’t do without, of course, the black porcelain urine basin used at night.

The most lively and attractive thing about the “busy cage party” is the mule horse club that follows, and early in the morning, the little guys in the alley will call one by one: “under the long pass” to watch the lively walk.

Two or three days after the opening of the “busy cage meeting”, the daily grocery and agricultural tools were almost sold, and the mule and horse trading transaction was opened immediately afterward, and the entire Changlefang street presented another scene. The stalls selling farm tools were removed one by one, and mules, horses, donkeys, and oxen were tied to the tree poles on both sides of the street, and those who raised their necks and neighed, lowered their heads and snapped their noses, and threw off their hooves and pedaled indiscriminately…

The person who bought the cattle walked up to the cattle, circled around the cattle a few times, measured the color of the coat, turned his lips to look at the teeth, and discussed the quality up and down. More than sixty years ago, from outside the East Gate to Baxian An, on this Changlefang street, you can often see the carriages driven by the Taoist priests of Baxian An, you can often see the carriages driven by the Taoist priests of the Baxian Temple coming and going, you see whether it is a mule driving or a horse pulling the ends, pulling up the cart and ringing the neck bell and galloping with the four hooves galloping high, and then look at the chasing man holding a long whip, wearing a soap blue narrow sleeve placket, pedaling mille-feuille cloth bottom round mouth cloth shoes, white leggings tightly wound, tight and sharp up and down the body and spirits, passers-by do not stop and watch, raise their fingers to praise.

Selling cattle Photo/@Li Shengli

Watch the big drama picture/@Li Shengli

The mule club has a special “tooth family” (broker) to counsel the buyer, help select the livestock, and negotiate the price with the seller. These “tooth families” are experienced elderly people on the road, who not only know the livestock products, but also are familiar with the market conditions, and can also understand the psychology of buyers and sellers.

The “tooth family” talks about business, does not rely on the mouth to grind and mix, relies on pinching hands to negotiate, put his hand into the sleeve of the long coat, grab one party’s fingers and pinch it in the sleeve, negotiate the price, and then turn around and pinch the other party in the sleeve, the hand is pinched below, the eyes look at each other, sometimes nodding, sometimes shaking the head, sometimes smiling, sometimes frowning, repeatedly, a business is quietly negotiated. This way of bargaining for buying and selling livestock is said to have been circulating for a long time, the bargaining process outsiders can not know, to avoid some outsiders to stir up trouble, more importantly, the Xuanjia people treat animals like their own family, after a long time will produce feelings, animals are very spiritual, understand people’s words, absolutely can not bargain in front of the cattle, buy and sell.

If it’s hot and wearing short sleeves, then take off the straw hat on your head, cover it over the hands of the two, and pinch it under the hat with both hands, once, curious I always want to find out how their hands are pinched, bent down and raised my head to peek, was found by the “tooth family”, glared, snorted, scared me to turn around and run, until now I have not figured out how they rely on five fingers to pinch and negotiate the price.

Eat at the bazaar Photo/@LeeVictory

After the price of the buyer and seller is negotiated, they will go through the handover procedures with the “tooth family”, and there are market management personnel at the mule horse meeting, and after paying various fees, the management personnel must stamp each transferred animal with a “fire seal”, so that the buyer can pull the livestock away, this is to prove that the livestock bought home has legal procedures, and the other is to put an end to buying and selling at this fair.

Speaking of “fire seal”, it sounds like using a red-hot iron seal to imprint the body of the animal, but in fact, the mule horse will shave off a mane on the buttocks of the animal and cover it with red seal mud with inscription on the size of the bowl, called “fire seal”. In the past, I always had doubts, it was obviously covered with red seal mud, why was it called “fire seal”, and then I asked an old classmate who had worked in the Northwest Military Horse Farm to untie this knot.

The military horses on the troops are also stamped with “fire seals”, which are really branded with red-hot steel seals, and each horse must be stamped with a “fire seal” when it is about one and a half years old. The “fire seal” of the military horse is divided into the year number and number, respectively, indicating the age of birth and the identity of the horse, the year number is printed above the front left leg, the number is printed above the left hip, generally three Arabic numerals, about five centimeters high and three centimeters wide, the numbers are arranged in a single arrangement, without a border, and they are not round like a seal.

“Fire War Horse” stills Photo/@Network

When covering the horse with a “fire seal”, several soldiers turned the horse over to the ground, branded the horse’s body with a red-hot digital steel seal, and then sprinkled with sulfa anti-inflammatory powder, the horse’s self-healing function is very strong, and the scald healed after a week. Finally, I figured out that the “fire seal” on the mule horse meeting was a circular seal clay stamped with it, and the “fire seal” of the army’s military horse was a real “fire” mark branded with a red-hot soldering iron.

There was once a novel “Fire Seal”, which described the joys and sorrows of a Chinese child Powa during the Anti-Japanese War and the foal “Xue’er” who depended on each other after he was rescued from the wolves, and the Japanese invading army snatched “Xue’er” from Powa, and the war horse that did to pull the cart was branded with the fire mark of the Japanese military camp, leaving a lifelong shame.

From the sword and shadow, the golden iron horse fighting the battlefield to the “plough yoke” and “the town without the sword” pulling the plough to plow the field, a “fire seal” has led to so many unknown stories on the horse.

At the mule horse meeting, the busiest are the craftsmen who nail the horseshoe, who are busy from morning to night. Whether it is a car rusher or a ploughing party, at the meeting to buy back a mule horse, before leaving, always repair the worn horse’s hooves and replace them with a new horseshoe.

Nail Horseshoe Diagram/@Network

The craftsman who nailed the horseshoe put a girdle on his chest, the horse led over, reached out and took the reins, tied the iron ring on the horse stake, lifted a horseshoe to the wooden bench, a wooden shovel more than a foot long, put one head under the shoulder, and shoveled down the horseshoe armor with a hard blow, the horse’s hooves were repaired flat, casually picked up the iron horseshoe prepared in advance and compared it, if it was not suitable, turned around and pulled the bellows to burn the fire and burn the iron horseshoe red on the anvil for a period of pounding and modification, After soaking in cold water, take it out and press it again on the horse’s hoof, nail the iron nails one by one, its movements are like moving clouds and flowing water, and in a moment, a horseshoe that is not big or small and suitable will not be crooked or diagonally nailed firmly to the horse’s hoof.

I often hear a sarcastic saying: the horse’s butt is on the horse’s hoof. Horse hooves are not casual to touch, touch it badly, a hoof kicking you with a blue nose and swollen face. It is strange to say that the mule horse with a short temper immediately became honest and well-behaved in front of the nail horseshoe craftsman, changing the past to jump around and kick the violent temper, and let the nail horseshoe craftsman grasp the hooves and be at the mercy of the hooves. It turned out that the trick was on the ring on the horse pile, the ring was installed particularly high, the reins were tied into the ring, and when encountering an dishonest horse, the reins were drawn, and the horse’s neck was dragged high and raised, and in an instant the whole body lost the ability to struggle, and the four hooves only had standing kung fu, and there was no power to kick and jump, and they could only be honestly at the mercy of others.

Police in a certain country arrested suspects on television, often kneeling and pressing their necks to subdue suspects, it seems that human necks are the same as the necks of animals.

“War Horse” stills Photo/@Network

Water and fire are ruthless, people are anxious, must find a toilet convenient, there is a place next to the street opposite the north entrance of Jinglongchi. Livestock are not as particular as they are, they can be pulled whenever they want, and the coachman who drives the carriage sometimes hangs a dung bag from the horse’s butt, and the horse manure pulled by walking on the main road falls into the bag. There are countless mules and horses in and out, and the imagination of Changle Fang is pulled into a horse manure mill, but in fact, the dung eggs pulled by the livestock are still steaming hot and shoveled away, and a horse manure egg can not be found in the whole street, which is clean, which benefits from a profession unique to that era: “dung picker”.

When I was a child, I could often see professional dung pickers carrying a bamboo basket burden on their shoulders, carrying shovels and brooms, and wandering along the streets.

Dongjianmen is an important passage in and out of Xi’an, a necessary place to go from south to north, from morning to evening mule horse carts flow endlessly, walking and walking, pulled down horse manure fell on the road, dung pickers saw from afar and rushed to shovel these horse manure and pour it on bamboo baskets. The horse manure collected was not used to fertilize the crops, but was dried and piled up to sell to households to burn in winter. Compared with other burning firewood, dry horse manure is full of fire after burning, but the burning speed is very slow, and when added to the kang hole in the evening, the wheat straw ignites, and it can burn slowly all night, and the kang is warm all night. Three hundred and sixty lines, the “dung picker” should be counted as one line, and it is also a livelihood to support the family.

Horse manure collection Figure/@network

As the saying goes, man is clothes and horses are saddle, and a good horse must also be equipped with a good saddle, nailed with a new horse’s shoe, just as a person wears a new pair of shoes, and needs to be equipped with a new robe.

“The east market buys horses, the west market buys saddle, the south market buys breeches, and the north market buys long whips.” Not out of the Changlefang Mule Horse Club, the cattle are equipped with a set of accessories, from saddle to neck, from stick to chew, from saddle eye to cage mouth, from bell to horse tasse… The favorite thing for us little guys is the stall with horsewhips stuck against the wall, and I saw the coachmen who selected the horsewhips raise the long whips in their hands, and a crisp whip sounded in the air. A long whip is as important to a carriage driver as a baton in the hands of a symphony orchestra conductor.

There is a kind of horsewhip on the whip stall that is different at first glance, other horsewhips are made of a single piece of bamboo, but this whip is tightly screwed together with three extremely thin bamboos like twist flowers, and you can bend its whip tip all the way to the root of the whip with your hand, and the whip tip immediately bounces back to its original shape as soon as you release it.

“Long whip, so a bang, a snap…” The crisp whip sound of the mule horse club has been echoing in the ears for decades, like the rousing song of the movie “Green Pine Ridge”.

Eight Immortal Palace Mountain Gate during the Republic of China

Today, revisiting the old place, Changlefang Street, where I lived since childhood, is lined with high-rise buildings on both sides, and the familiar streets of the past have become unfamiliar. From the beginning of the unprecedented “four old” of Changlefang Street, the nameplate was changed to “Renewal Street”. The surrounding ancient alleys were “updated” at the same time to update the ten alleys, update the nine alleys, and update the eighth alley…

The Daogu who lived in the Qing Dynasty’s “Wanlingan Rebuilt in the Thirteenth Year of Guangxu” on the street opposite the old mother temple was expelled from the temple gate at the beginning of the fourth old, and the temple was occupied by a street factory. The Taoist holy place Baxian Nunnery on the west side of “Renewal Street” was still stable at first, although the Red Guards of several nearby middle schools broke the four old and made a black miasma, but they were still in awe of the thousand-year-old view of this “majestic moral wind, indifferent immortal house”, no one dared to think or move a finger of the Baxian An, but the Baxian Nunnery was still difficult to withstand the looting of the storm, and on a cloudy day, the Red Guards of a certain university held high a banner and shouted slogans and rushed viciously from the southwest corner of the city to the Baxian Nunnery with a hammer, A tall boy in a red sweatshirt at the head shouted slogans wildly, took the lead in picking up a big hammer and smashed it towards Chi Gong and Qin Qiong, the gods of the Eight Immortal Temple, and in an instant, a thousand-year-old Taoist temple was smashed and broken limbs, and the onlookers dared to be angry but did not dare to speak.

“The yang world traitors and males violate the heavens and harms all by themselves, and the Yin Si retributes who has been spared from the ages”, it is rumored that the tall man in a red sweatshirt who smashed and robbed the cadres died of a violent illness within half a month.

A catastrophe is finally over, “the world has changed vicissitudes, and the middle has fallen”, this thousand-year-old street has gone through the Xingqing Fang of the Tang Dynasty, Changle Fang, Changle West Fang, Changle East Fang, Changguan Fang in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the renewal street of the “difficult exploration” era, and finally returned to the “Changle Fang” named in the Ming Dynasty hundreds of years ago. The ancient street has restored the tranquility of the past, the street scene is changing day by day, one by one high-rise buildings stand on both sides of the street, but it always makes people feel that there seems to be a lack of human fireworks, no antique of the old street in the past, less thousands of years of thick history and culture. Only the Eight Immortal Temple in the second half of the courtyard was destroyed, the majestic archway was missing, and the exquisite and majestic mountain gate was missing, and the pure land of the ancient towering Taoist temple in the past was gone. The old mother temple at the mouth of Jinglongchi, which records the vicissitudes of a thousand years of history, is also full of decay, quietly waiting there, wordlessly pouring out the unknown difficult journey.

The former Changle Fang busy cage party, the former pick-up shovel broom basket farm tool stalls, and the “silent” hand-cinch trading at the mule horse meeting where people used to cheer horses and shout, have all become a thing of the past and a good memory that I will remember in my heart.

This article is published with the permission of Mr. Wang Yongsheng