Boat tracker refers to the people who make a living by towing boats. They drag boats full of passengers, coals, woods, agricultural materials and daily commodity alongside the Yangtze River.
The Boat Tracker Culture
It was impossible for a boat travelling in fast-running water of Yangtze river, so, a special kind of boat worker, so-called the boat tracker, towed the boat in the right navigation became more and more important to the Yangtze River. Centuries has passed, boat tracker has became not only a kind of job, but also a form of culture.
When the boat sail against the current, trackers always sing and tow together. Always, it is just a work song without lyrics. Sounds echoed in the valley and passengers feel shocked. They sing not only because the song is a symbol of joint effort, but also power over nature.
Why Half Naked
Boat tracker usually don't wear shirt when they are working in late spring, summer and early autumn. Because they were born in poor families and their shirts will be soaked with sweat, besides, damages from the ropes may make the shirts even short lasting. They don't have enough money to always buy new clothes, therefore, boat trackers usually don't wear shirts. Another reason is that boat trackers always have to work in the water, they don't have time to get changed. The main reason not to wear a shirt is to prevent from diseases. If the shirt is always wet and dry in turn, the boat trackers will tend to get rheumatism and arthritis.
Related Art Works
From the famous “Trackers on the Volga” by Repin of Russian, we can see the tough life of trackers at that time. It shows us trackers in tattered clothes, walking with difficulty, were towing a cargo ship. And the haze weather increases the tragedy atmosphere. Repin showed sympathy to boat trackers and illustrated the miserable life of labor people.
Footprints of Boat Trackers
In the late 1980s of last century, the Shennong Stream of Badong began to engage in the development of tourism, towing a boat by trackers became the biggest selling point of tourist attraction. If you are in a boat floating in Shennong Stream, you can see a queue of trackers with clothes towing the boats. There are two Tujia nationality helmets at the river side, and you can get off to have a rest, swim, watch traditional performance, picking colorful stones or take photos here.
Modern Boat Tracker
Boat trackers are no longer the most important element in Three-Gorge navigation because of modern technology and mechanization. There had hardly any boat trackers in the Three Gorge by 1980. However, the boat tracker culture is well-preserved through tourism and it has a brand new look to us.
>>Some representative itineraries including Boat Trackers show:
13 Days Snowy High Land Tour & Luxurious Yangtze Cruise (downstream)
7 Days Shanghai, Yangtze Cruise Tour (downstream)
11 Days South China Artistic Tour & Yangtze Cruise (downstream)
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