Ear-picking, the Tickling Chengdu Experience

Authors: Go Chengdu


Ear-picking is an ancient practice still alive in Chengdu, a joy to local residents and an extraordinary experience to many visitors to the city.
Many say that Chengdu is the city of leisure, and on fine days you’d find people in the city sitting in parks and along the rivers to while away the afternoon sipping tea, playing chess, gossiping with friends or just snoozing.
In such places you can also find some people of a special profession roaming with a set of weird instruments in the hand — the ear-pickers, as they are called, though they’d rather prefer to be called the ear-picking artisans.
The ancient practice of ear cleaning is alive and well in Chengdu, a joy to local residents and an extraordinary experience to many visitors to the city.
“It relaxes people’s nerves and makes them feel comfortable,” the professional ear-pickers claim.
The ear-picker uses an eight-instrument technique. First he runs a thin file along the ear lobe and outer edges of the ear canal to remove hair. Next he uses a thinner file, a flexible metal strip, to gently loosen the wax. Larger pieces of wax that come loose easily are removed with a pair of pincers. Smaller particles are scraped out by a bamboo stick with a small scoop at the end.
With the wax removed, the rest is just icing. The ear-picker starts by sliding a hair- thin piece of wire into the ear canal and tapping it around. Next a thicker piece of wire with a loop at the end is also tapped around, and lastly, a bamboo stick with down feathers is inserted, and the tuning fork is gently snapped against the stick, causing the feathers to vibrate inside the ear canal.
The ear cleaners said they had nearly two years of training, much of which involved practicing holding their instruments without twitching or shaking.
The best place to have this special Chengdu Experience is the People’s Park in central Chengdu, and the charge for the service is about 10 yuan.

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