China's three-wheel Rickshaws were introduced from Japan in early twentieth century. Beijing locals were very soon to know how to copy this kind of brand-new vehicle. Later, there were many to establish vehicle factories. They were quite poor at that time, so they would rent out their houses or even sell their ancestral graveyard in order to obtain enough money to hire workers and buy materials. Actually, the rickshaw factories were family workshops that the laborers were carpenters and blacksmiths. They had no materials but oil paint. They had to buy steel wheels, tires, axletrees, brakes and bells and so on in shops that sold Japanese imported goods. Seat pads, mats, rain covers and shades were bought from locals stores through material exchanges.
In 1901 a "vehicle of sheet iron" were manufactured by Wang Zhilan (王芝兰), who was the manager of Donghuaxing Car Factory on Xisibei Road (西四北路). The vehicle was worth about 47 taels silver.
The rickshaw's compartment was square on all sides. Up to the dustpan, there were three white copper lines drawn. The handlebars were made of wood. For the wagoner's convenient to push and pull the carriage, a handle was installed on the back of it. The bamboo supports of it were gilded with copper. Good quality cloths were used for compartment covers. Seat pad and back cushion were made of white cloths with red edges. A mat was placed on the floor and dynamos were on the left and right sides of the carriage's front.
Wagoners bought rickshaws from factories. They paid their sums by intervals. It took three months to pay the complete sum. Many poor men liked to do this strong physical labor to make living.
Nowadays rickshaws are still quite popular in Beijing's Hutong area. Old men pull the traditional vehicles along the small streets and narrow lanes.
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