|It was in the fall that I went to visit Yishui County in the central part of the Yimeng Mountains in Shandong Province. On my way, a young man pushing a wheelbarrow passed by. Sitting on it was a pretty young woman dressed in a red flower-patterned jacket, dark-green pants and embroidered shoes. I learned they were newlyweds. The wife went back to her parents' home two days before and was supposed to return to her husband's home that day.|
The wheelbarrow is a very popular and useful means of transportation in this mountain area. Every home owns at least one or two of them. Peasants here use wheelbarrows to carry corn, peanuts and sorghum stalks home from the fields and they also use it to carry fruit, vegetables and timber to sell at the market in town.
Two meters long and one meter wide, the barrow is made of a plank and a rubber wheel in the middle. The upper part of the wheel is higher than the board so as to lower the barrow's weight and make it run more smoothly. Under each shaft is a stand, making it easy to stop and to load and unload at any time. When pushing the barrow, a belt is tied on the shaft and put around the neck of the person pushing the barrow to share the heavy weight with the arms.
At the crowded country markets, barrows are used as counters on which grain, meat, vegetable and fruit are placed for sale. In the eyes of a stranger like me, this was like an exhibition of wheelbarrows. Light and mobile, it can run on both smooth roads and narrow and bumpy mountain paths and can carry as much as 300 klilogrammes.
Pushing a wheelbarrow to the field or the market, with a passenger balanced among the goods.