What Was the Ghost Market like in Ancient Times?

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  • 2020-06-03
  • China tourism information
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Have you ever heard of Ghost Market? You may ask, what the heck is this? Urban legends like the boy in red and the cat-faced wife?

No, this “ghost” can be said to be a fake ghost, and the emphasis should be placed on this “market”. From ancient times to the present, ghost market is the mysterious existence of every city. in many popular TV dramas and movies today, there is a “ghost market”, which even represents a mysterious force.

The movie “Di Renjie’s Empire to Heaven” mentions a mysterious place-“Ghost Market”. There are deep underground, a mixture of gods and demons, ghosts and serpents doing black market trading. Everything that cannot be solved in the world can be done in a ghost market.

It is said that when the Empress Dowager Cixi celebrated her 60th birthday, it coincided with the national disaster, but she insisted on asking the young eunuchs to prepare a fox fur coat for her. Seeing that the time for Cixi’s life was approaching, the little eunuch had to worship the Buddha and burn incense. I vaguely heard the Buddha signal him to go to Panjiayuan Ghost Market.

After the little eunuch came to Panjiayuan, he bought a very good fox fur coat. after the transaction was completed, the seller suddenly disappeared. The little eunuch touched that the fox fur coat was still hot, and he realized that it was the fox fairy who took off his skin and saved his life.

Of course, a story is a story, and it’s all read as “the ghost of a beautiful woman”. The point is still that sentence, not in the “ghost”, but in that “market”.

The Ghost Market in History


The so-called ghost market is actually a special morning market (also known as Xiaoshi). The opening time of the ghost market is usually “closed in the middle of the night, chicken crowing and scattered”, that is to say, it starts at two or three o’clock in the morning and lasts until four or five o’clock, especially in the middle of the night.

Because the time point is very similar to the legendary time of haunting ghosts, it is so strange that it has been given such a strange name by people.

The embryonic form of the ghost market appeared in the Tang Dynasty, which initially implemented the “curfew” system, which has been recorded in many historical materials.

In the middle and late Tang Dynasty, with the economic development, population growth, the rise of commerce and other reasons, people’s demand is not satisfied with the day market, began the ghost market transaction, the ghost market in the Tang Dynasty is the embryonic form of the night market, but also laid the foundation for the development of the ghost market.

In the Song Dynasty, the ghost market became lively. During the Song Dynasty, China’s commercial activities were very active, the development of the night market was gradually legal, and it was the first to break the market system of the Tang Dynasty, no longer a curfew, and more and more people were keen to visit the night market.

So what are the main things sold in the ghost market? It can be said that there are many kinds, including food and clothing items, gold and silver jewelry, calligraphy and painting medicine, and so on.

According to the Dongjing Menghua Records, in addition to a fixed time (usually trading from five o’clock, which is equivalent to three o’clock to five o’clock now), ghost markets also have fixed places. for example, the ghost market on Cross Street to the east of Panlou, Kaifeng House, mainly sells clothes, pictures, wreaths, necklaces and other female products, while the east corner of Kaifeng House sells antiques, gold and silver, and other valuables.

In the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, although the feudal monarchy reached its peak, the merchants still existed, so the ghost market was naturally like a follower, and it could not be driven away. To this day, the ghost market still exists.

Modern Ghost Market

There used to be several very famous ghost markets in Beijing, one of which was Dongxiao. Wu Changyuan, who lived in Beijing for a long time during the Qianlong period of the Qing Dynasty, recorded that: “Dongxiao City is located south of Banbi Street, with a gap of more than 10 mu, and at 02:00 every day. People who buy old goods trade here, but they estimate the most clothes.” According to rumors, Puyi’s seventh uncle Zaitao once set up a stall here to sell “rags” when he became poor.

One day, Zai Tao inadvertently sold a precious Ming Dynasty porcelain as an ordinary old porcelain. The buyer didn’t expect to spend a little money to pick up a big bargain, so he couldn’t help being overjoyed, so he set his eyes on Zaitao’s small stall and came to have a look almost every day.

As a result, the news of Zai Tao setting up a stall in the ghost market spread, causing a storm all over the city. As a result, Zai Tao not only lost a treasure, but also stopped thinking of going to the ghost market to do business.

When it comes to the ghost market in Beijing, we have to mention “Gui Jie”.

Today, Gui Jie has become a well-known center of food and beverage culture. Guijie, formerly known as “Ghost Street”, was a trade center that opened the market in the latter part of the night in the early years. Later, due to development reasons, it became a catering street, so it was found that the word “guǐ” with different homonyms was a container made of ancient bronze or pottery to hold food, so it became “Gui Street”.

Today, the most famous ghost market in Beijing is the Daliushu market on the East Fifth Ring Road, which greatly retains the ghost market culture, and this ghost market is very characteristic: it only appears in the early hours of every Wednesday morning. There are many out-of-town vendors who come here at night to sell goods, from ancient ceramics to radios and BB machines in the 1980s to all kinds of strange dolls, and you can even buy an unknown primary school certificate.

If you come to Beijing to explore the secrets, you can come to this ghost market to have a look, maybe you can really find some precious treasures.

Ghost Market or “Fake” Market?

Seeing the above, you may have the idea of exploring the ghost market, but don’t think about the ghost market very well. In fact, it is named the ghost market because most of the things sold here are not good things. What does this mean?

The word “ghost” in “ghost market” also has another meaning, that is, “fake”.

It is recorded in Qionglin that there was a he Jia Lou in Tokyo in the early Northern Song Dynasty, and the level of counterfeiting was very high. For a long time, people only know the fake goods but not the real ones, and regard the fake goods as the real ones.

The careful “Wulin Old Story Ranger” has made a detailed description of the real means of the “day thief” family: the goods bought in the ghost market are likely to change in the twinkling of an eye, like illusions, such as paper clothes, lead and copper gold and silver, and so on.

It is said that someone found treasures in the ghost market and found that they were only two stones when they got home in the morning.

Not only are treasures fake, but even pork and ghost markets are not spared.

It is recorded in history that the scholars of the Northern Song Dynasty offered sacrifices to Confucius every year, and usually they would buy a large piece of pork together as a sacrifice, but sometimes the pork stinks when it is sent away in the hot morning in the afternoon. so in the end, the big guys of the unsmelly pork were divided together, and the smelly pork was sold to the butcher at a low price.

The butcher was so shrewd that he took the smelly meat home and soaked it in the blood. As a result, the smell was gone and the color was still very bright. The butcher sold the meat to the common people at a high price, and it was difficult for the people to be fooled at night.

In the Southern Song Dynasty, Sun San, who specializes in driving out ghosts in Lin’an House, told his wife to take care of his cat and not to let it go out before he went out, which aroused the curiosity of the neighbors around him.

One day, the cat of Sun San’s family suddenly ran out of the house, and the neighbors were amazed to find that the cat was crimson and extraordinary. When Sun Sanshan returned from the city, knowing that the cat had been seen by the neighbor, he was furious and beat his wife up.

The story later spread, and it was learned by an eunuch in the palace that the eunuch sent someone to buy this rare and precious “crimson cat” at a high price. Sun San insisted on not selling. Later, the eunuch raised the price again and again, and finally closed the deal with a price of 30000 yuan.

After getting the cat, the eunuch was overjoyed and planned to give it to the emperor after training. Half a month later, it was found that the color of the cat’s whole body began to fade and fade, and later it turned into a white cat.

The eunuch shouted and sent someone to find Sun San, but Sun San had already moved.

It turned out that the cat was specially dyed by Sun San with red dye, and he deliberately hyped it to spread the reputation of this “strange cat” and finally attracted people to buy it. This is a masterpiece of Sun San, who is proficient in deception.

The Secret anecdotes of the late Qing Dynasty once recorded a story: an examinee came to the capital to take part in the imperial examination, entered the ghost market early in the morning, and saw a brand new sheepskin robe, which sold only four taels of silver, which was undoubtedly a great bargain. He bought it immediately, went back to the inn and showed off to the others, very proud.

At this time, someone said, “Don’t be happy too soon. The deception in the ghost market is unpredictable. How do you know it’s not a fake?” The examinee put the robe on the table and examined it carefully before he found the clue. The robe is made of Kraft paper and the wool is glued to the paper. Candidates are so angry that they have to use deception to deceive others.

Early the next morning, he entered the ghost market and resold the fake robe he bought yesterday for six taels of silver. After returning, he showed off to his peers that he had not only recovered the loss but also made two taels of money. Others said, “Don’t be happy too soon. There are so many tricks in the ghost market. How do you know that the money you sold is not fake?” The examinee said, “is there such a thing?” Take the silver to the silver shop, and when the silversmith examines it, it is full of lead ingots.

But whether it is a “ghost market” or a “fake market”, the rules always have to be talked about. When it comes to going to a “ghost market” in the industry, you can’t go to it, nor can you talk about it, let alone go shopping. You have to say “go to a ghost market.” “wading” is like crossing the river by feeling a stone. You know the depth of the water and the shallow water. After all, there are all kinds of things sold here. It is difficult to tell the true from the false, and it all depends on experience.

Buy goods in the “ghost market” regardless of the provenance, and then bargain after the bullish, one-hand money and one-hand goods, no more entanglement after the settlement, that is your own ability.

There is an established trade rule in the “ghost market” transaction: when buyers and sellers are talking, a third party is not allowed to intervene.

When you look at something and others are looking at it, you can’t ask the price or grab it. You have to wait for someone to put it down and make sure you don’t want it. Those who compete forcibly will be scolded, severely beaten, and even lead to group fights.

Today, there are still many ghost markets, which are not as mysterious as they used to be, but they are still a good place for many old players to explore secrets and search for treasures, but they have to keep their eyes open. After all, they do not know who the other party is in the big night. If they buy goods A, they are fake goods. Who knows that the other party ran away?


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What Was the Ghost Market like in Ancient Times?


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