Wang Weimei, a barber, uses burning tongs to perm hair for his customers. (Photo/Chengdu Business Daily)
(ECNS) -- A video that shows an old barber in Southwest China's Sichuan Province using a pair of fire tongs to curl hair has become an online hit.
Wang Weimei, 74, from Santai county, Mianyang, said using tongs to perm hair is a traditional craft that was popular in the 1980s. Wang's barbershop still has many customers today.
The duckbilled tongs were heated on the stove and then put into water. Holding them in one hand and taking a comb in the other, Wang curls a customer's hair quickly. Meanwhile, his wife Ding Yunzhen continues passing burning tongs to him as clouds of smoke rise together with a burnt odor.
The fast movement of both the barber's hands and the temperature of the tongs are crucial, Wang said. Hair will be burned if the temperature is too high, but the curl cannot be formed if it is not hot enough.
This method of waving hair can make a style that lasts for two to three months, said Yang Suzhe, an 81-year-old customer. No chemical liquids or medicines are used during the process, she said, adding that the service only costs 4 yuan (58 U.S. cents) each time, including a hair wash.
Wang said he has been doing the job since 1977 and has never hurt a customer because of his mastery of the skill. But the craft is not popular in big cities and few young people want to learn it. "It is hard work and brings in little money," Wang said, adding that he worried the craft may die out.
In addition, Wang said he has only three pair of tongs, but few blacksmiths know how to produce them. "Luckily, the wife of my grandson said she is interested in the skill, maybe I can teach her," he said. Some people from the local cultural center also told him that they may apply for intangible cultural heritage status for the old skill.