The vanishing wax shop

  With the development of the times and changes in social lifestyles, many merchants and shops in the old era have disappeared without a trace in big cities. In fact, this is also a very normal phenomenon. Recently, I accidentally saw a few pictures of social customs in a small town in the southwest. Among them, there are two incense wax shops with prosperous business. Although they are far from the scale and style of the old Beijing incense wax shops, they also remind people of fifty The wax shop from many years ago.
  After a long period of historical changes, many commercial shops in China will always have some changes from content to appellation, or have different names due to different regions, but the name of the incense wax shop has a long history. The most intuitive and visual data is Zhang Zeduan’s “Along the River During Qingming Festival”, in which there are incense wax shops in many shops, as well as spice shops, which specialize in all kinds of spices. Totally different. If the incense and wax shop is an indispensable and important industry in ancient social life, then the perfume shop is a luxury store.
  In the old days, weddings, funerals, and rituals occupied an important position in the life of all social classes, almost second only to clothing, food, housing, and transportation. Therefore, the products operated by incense and wax shops were also indispensable in social life. The main commodities in the incense and wax shop include rue, incense sticks, Tibetan incense, high incense, hundred bunches of incense, meridian incense, white wax used in funerals, and red candles used in weddings, as well as various god codes ( It is said that the early incense wax shops did not sell burning paper and tin foil, but only Nanzhi shops and brick and tile shops. In the early 1950s, most of the old-style southern paper shops were converted into stationery shops, and these sacrificial supplies were transferred to incense and wax shops for supply. In addition, the incense wax shop also operates some low-end department stores, such as toilet paper, soap, tooth powder, etc., and even cosmetic rouge, fragrant powder, osmanthus combing oil, etc., the price is relatively low, and the main sales target are the common people in the market. Incense wax shops are also called incense candle shops in the south, but the business form is the same.
  The most prosperous seasons for incense wax shop business are mostly Qingming, Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, Winter Clothes Festival on the first day of October, and Winter Solstice. Even in normal times, it does not appear bland due to the demands of daily life in the old days. Therefore, small incense wax shops are a big industry in the city, and incense wax shops can almost be found on the main streets of the inner and outer cities of Beijing. In modern times, kerosene, also known as “foreign oil”, was the main lighting energy before the advent of electric lamps in the last years of Guangxu, and a considerable part of kerosene was also operated by incense wax shops, so whenever passing through incense wax shops, a kind of mixture would waft out. of exotic fragrance.
  Although there are many incense wax shops in the capital, most of them are wholesale sales. There are few forms of front shop and back factory. However, there is a large-scale Hexianglou in Yingzi Hutong outside Chongwenmen. It was opened in the Xianfeng period of the late Qing Dynasty. Not only produces and sells all kinds of incense sticks, whip stick incense and red and white foreign wax, but also does wholesale business to the suburban villages and towns of Beijing.
  Near the East Fourth Archway in Beijing, the more famous incense wax shops are Tianxin Building, Hui Lanfang, Hexin Building, Wanxing Building, etc. Hui Lanfang is on the west side of Dongsi North Street, with high steps and three shops. I still remember going there every Spring Festival to buy incense sticks for setting off firecrackers. You can buy more than 20 sticks for a penny. Holding a penny, the guy still took the trouble to patiently collect the money and count the incense. Especially when the Spring Festival is approaching on the 15th day of the first lunar month, the six or seven steps are full of people from the countryside who come to Beijing to sell lanterns. The people in the store don’t drive them away, but instead it drives the sales of small red candles in the store.
  In the late 1950s, incense wax shops gradually disappeared in Beijing.