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In pictures: Chongqing's 'Bang Bang Army'
Freelance Chinese labourers must endure gruelling work with little pay.
Last updated: 15 Nov 2013 15:55
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Zhou Nan Zhong, 54, a short and wiry former farmer wanders through the fluorescent-lit labyrinth of Chongqing's Choutianmen wholesale market on the edge of China's longest river, the Yangtze. Slung over his shoulder is a 1.3m bamboo pole. Occasionally Zhou stops at one of the 15,000 or so stores within this vast multi-level crumbling concrete complex to ask, "do you need anything carried?"

While bicycles are still a feature of other Chinese megacities such as Beijing and Shanghai, the hills of Chongqing are so steep that bicycles are both impractical and rare. Instead, it is the workers' bamboo pole known as a bang that has iconic status in this sprawling southwestern river harbour city of almost 30 million. Chongqing's 'Bang Bang Army' of mainly male freelance labourers - so called for the bamboo poles by which they are easily identified - are part of an ancient tradition. For more than a thousand years, before modern plumbing, porters carried water from the Yangtze and Jialing Rivers to homes high in the hills above.

The Bang Bang Army gained fame throughout China thanks to a mini-series popular in the mid-1990s titled Bang Bang Army in the Mountain City. Zhou is proud of the Bang Bang Army's place in Chinese popular culture as well as a fan of the television series, "the first season was better than the second", he offers.

Today as the city becomes increasingly prosperous with immaculately landscaped pedestrian shopping malls where one is more likely to see a Gucci handbag than a bang bang's bamboo pole, there is still enough grunt work for the likes of Zhou who earns anything between 1,000-10,000 CNY ($180-1800) per month.  The financial outlay to join the bang bang army is minimal, but the work is gruelling. The porters work from sunup to sundown seven days a week. Chongqing's summer months are particularly cruel with temperatures in the 'furnace city' frequently topping 40C.


/Dave Tacon/ Polaris/ Al Jazeera
While bicycles are still a feature of other Chinese megacities such as Beijing and Shanghai, the hills of Chongqing are so steep that bicycles are both impractical and rare.


/Dave Tacon/ Polaris/ Al Jazeera

Instead, it is the workers bamboo pole known as a bang that has iconic status in this sprawling, southwestern river harbour city of almost 30 million.



/Dave Tacon/ Polaris/ Al Jazeera

The Chongqing Bang Bang Army of freelance labourers ,so called for the bamboo poles by which they are easily identified, are part of an ancient tradition.



/Dave Tacon/ Polaris/ Al Jazeera

For more than a thousand years, porters have carried water from the Yangtze and Jialing rivers to homes high in the hills above.



/Dave Tacon/ Polaris/ Al Jazeera

The Bang Bang Army gained fame throughout China, thanks to a mini series popular in the mid 1990s titled "Bang Bang Army in the Mountain City."



/Dave Tacon/ Polaris/ Al Jazeera

Today, as the city becomes increasingly prosperous, there is still plenty of grunt work for the Bang Bang Army.



/Dave Tacon/ Polaris/ Al Jazeeraa

The porters work from sunup to sundown, seven days a week, often in harsh conditions. Chongqing's summer months are particularly cruel, with temperatures in the city frequently topping 40C.



/Dave Tacon/ Polaris/ Al Jazeera

Zhou Nan Zhong, 54, has worked as a "bang bang" for around 30 years. Once a farmer in Tongnan District, Chongqing, he says that a bang bang can earn anywhere from 10,000 CNY (approx. $1,630) to just 1,000 CNY $163) per month.



/Dave Tacon/ Polaris/ Al Jazeera

Zhou shares this small room with 11 other migrant workers who work as "bang bang" labourers. They each pay 80 CNY (approx. $13) per month for rent.



/Dave Tacon/ Polaris/ Al Jazeera

Despite the back breaking nature of his bang bang work, Zhou much prefers it to life as a farmer. "This work is much easier than growing vegetables," he says. "It is not seasonal and fertilizer is expensive. This pole cost me just 10 CNY and it has lasted me three years."




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images:
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captions:
While bicycles are still a feature of other Chinese megacities such as Beijing and Shanghai, the hills of Chongqing are so steep that bicycles are both impractical and rare.;*;

Instead, it is the workers bamboo pole known as a bang that has iconic status in this sprawling, southwestern river harbour city of almost 30 million.

;*;

The Chongqing Bang Bang Army of freelance labourers ,so called for the bamboo poles by which they are easily identified, are part of an ancient tradition.

;*;

For more than a thousand years, porters have carried water from the Yangtze and Jialing rivers to homes high in the hills above.

;*;

The Bang Bang Army gained fame throughout China, thanks to a mini series popular in the mid 1990s titled "Bang Bang Army in the Mountain City."

;*;

Today, as the city becomes increasingly prosperous, there is still plenty of grunt work for the Bang Bang Army.

;*;

The porters work from sunup to sundown, seven days a week, often in harsh conditions. Chongqing(***)s summer months are particularly cruel, with temperatures in the city frequently topping 40C.

;*;

Zhou Nan Zhong, 54, has worked as a \"bang bang\" for around 30 years. Once a farmer in Tongnan District, Chongqing, he says that a bang bang can earn anywhere from 10,000 CNY (approx. $1,630) to just 1,000 CNY $163) per month.

;*;

Zhou shares this small room with 11 other migrant workers who work as \"bang bang\" labourers. They each pay 80 CNY (approx. $13) per month for rent.

;*;

Despite the back breaking nature of his bang bang work, Zhou much prefers it to life as a farmer. "This work is much easier than growing vegetables," he says. "It is not seasonal and fertilizer is expensive. This pole cost me just 10 CNY and it has lasted me three years."

Daylife ID:
9415b210a62fc0241232d1d586a94e76
Photographer:
;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;
Image Source:
Dave Tacon/ Polaris/ Al Jazeera;*;Dave Tacon/ Polaris/ Al Jazeera;*;Dave Tacon/ Polaris/ Al Jazeera;*;Dave Tacon/ Polaris/ Al Jazeera;*;Dave Tacon/ Polaris/ Al Jazeera;*;Dave Tacon/ Polaris/ Al Jazeera;*;Dave Tacon/ Polaris/ Al Jazeeraa;*;Dave Tacon/ Polaris/ Al Jazeera;*;Dave Tacon/ Polaris/ Al Jazeera;*;Dave Tacon/ Polaris/ Al Jazeera
Gallery Source:
Daylife
Daylife Raw Data:
CHONGQING BANG BANG ARMYhttp://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CHONGQING_BANG_BANG_ARMen-ussupport@newscred.comUntitled Site10Fri, 08 Nov 2013 10:46:44 GMT http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CHONGQING_BANG_BANG_ARM/slideshow/no-caption/c45ee689576b58ee833016a4be11a471

While bicycles are still a feature of other Chinese megacities such as Beijing and Shanghai, the hills of Chongqing are so steep that bicycles are both impractical and rare.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CHONGQING_BANG_BANG_ARM/slideshow/no-caption/c45ee689576b58ee833016a4be11a471Dave Tacon/ Polaris/ Al Jazeera

While bicycles are still a feature of other Chinese megacities such as Beijing and Shanghai, the hills of Chongqing are so steep that bicycles are both impractical and rare.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CHONGQING_BANG_BANG_ARM/slideshow/no-caption/b6151f6dff81252db4c2df198bf89ee9

Instead, it is the workers bamboo pole known as a bang that has iconic status in thissprawling southwestern river harbour city of almost 30 million.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CHONGQING_BANG_BANG_ARM/slideshow/no-caption/b6151f6dff81252db4c2df198bf89ee9Dave Tacon/ Polaris/ Al Jazeera

Instead, it is the workers bamboo pole known as a bang that has iconic status in thissprawling southwestern river harbour city of almost 30 million.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CHONGQING_BANG_BANG_ARM/slideshow/no-caption/8c7ca89f450a6f2b49d29328510d1668

Chongqing Bang Bang Army of freelance labourers ,so called for the bamboo poles by which they are easily identified, are part of an ancient tradition.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CHONGQING_BANG_BANG_ARM/slideshow/no-caption/8c7ca89f450a6f2b49d29328510d1668Dave Tacon/ Polaris/ Al Jazeera

Chongqing Bang Bang Army of freelance labourers ,so called for the bamboo poles by which they are easily identified, are part of an ancient tradition.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CHONGQING_BANG_BANG_ARM/slideshow/no-caption/85b2762bbb538e5b81ea27745b590e3b

For more than a thousand years, before modern plumbing, porters carried water from the Yangtze and Jialing Rivers to homes high in the hills above.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CHONGQING_BANG_BANG_ARM/slideshow/no-caption/85b2762bbb538e5b81ea27745b590e3bDave Tacon/ Polaris/ Al Jazeera

For more than a thousand years, before modern plumbing, porters carried water from the Yangtze and Jialing Rivers to homes high in the hills above.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CHONGQING_BANG_BANG_ARM/slideshow/no-caption/c948501d1062647197906d27b46993e6

The Bang Bang Army gained fame throughout China thanks to a mini series popular in the mid 1990s titled Bang Bang Army in the Mountain City.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CHONGQING_BANG_BANG_ARM/slideshow/no-caption/c948501d1062647197906d27b46993e6Dave Tacon/ Polaris/ Al Jazeera

The Bang Bang Army gained fame throughout China thanks to a mini series popular in the mid 1990s titled Bang Bang Army in the Mountain City.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CHONGQING_BANG_BANG_ARM/slideshow/no-caption/368ffa5eafdec670b32d12053ca3c2b9

Today as the city becomes increasingly prosperous there is still enough grunt work for the bang bang army.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CHONGQING_BANG_BANG_ARM/slideshow/no-caption/368ffa5eafdec670b32d12053ca3c2b9Dave Tacon/ Polaris/ Al Jazeera

Today as the city becomes increasingly prosperous there is still enough grunt work for the bang bang army.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CHONGQING_BANG_BANG_ARM/slideshow/no-caption/9126eafcf973ea9578c1a49503243357

The porters work from sunup to sundown seven days a week. Chongqings summer months are particularly cruel with temperatures in the furnace city frequently topping 40C.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CHONGQING_BANG_BANG_ARM/slideshow/no-caption/9126eafcf973ea9578c1a49503243357Dave Tacon/ Polaris/ Al Jazeeraa

The porters work from sunup to sundown seven days a week. Chongqings summer months are particularly cruel with temperatures in the furnace city frequently topping 40C.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CHONGQING_BANG_BANG_ARM/slideshow/no-caption/7cfbcd2d3b5a2e31eff20ac84a5be6a5

Zhou Nan Zhong, 54, has worked as a 'bang bang' for around 30 years. Once a farmer in Tongnan District, Chongqing, he says that a bang bang can earn anything from 10,000 CNY, approx USD1,630, to just 1,000 CNY ,USD163, per month.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CHONGQING_BANG_BANG_ARM/slideshow/no-caption/7cfbcd2d3b5a2e31eff20ac84a5be6a5Dave Tacon/ Polaris/ Al Jazeera

Zhou Nan Zhong, 54, has worked as a 'bang bang' for around 30 years. Once a farmer in Tongnan District, Chongqing, he says that a bang bang can earn anything from 10,000 CNY, approx USD1,630, to just 1,000 CNY ,USD163, per month.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CHONGQING_BANG_BANG_ARM/slideshow/no-caption/7656b2e4c5b80b854200613baf30fb90

Zhou shares this small room with 11 other migrant workers who work as 'bang bang' laborers. They each pay 80 CNY, approx USD13 per month for rent.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CHONGQING_BANG_BANG_ARM/slideshow/no-caption/7656b2e4c5b80b854200613baf30fb90Dave Tacon/ Polaris/ Al Jazeera

Zhou shares this small room with 11 other migrant workers who work as 'bang bang' laborers. They each pay 80 CNY, approx USD13 per month for rent.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CHONGQING_BANG_BANG_ARM/slideshow/no-caption/86968d6d6d4a670dd83c1f3f1a574802

Despite the back breaking nature of his bang bang work Zhou much prefers it to life as a farmer. 'This work is much easier than growing vegetables' he says. 'It is not seasonal and fertilizer is expensive. This pole cost me just 10 CNY and it has lasted me three years.'

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CHONGQING_BANG_BANG_ARM/slideshow/no-caption/86968d6d6d4a670dd83c1f3f1a574802Dave Tacon/ Polaris/ Al Jazeera

Despite the back breaking nature of his bang bang work Zhou much prefers it to life as a farmer. 'This work is much easier than growing vegetables' he says. 'It is not seasonal and fertilizer is expensive. This pole cost me just 10 CNY and it has lasted me three years.'



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