Have the Chinese ever had an indigenous class of wandering or itinerant people, similar to Ireland’s Travellers, who took their trades on the road from town to town, lived in mobile caravans, and had a wholly separate society, culture, and language? If so, do these people and their culture still exist today, or have they been largely forced to settle? What did settled Chinese tend to think of these people?
If you’re not familiar with the Irish Travellers, ask anyone from southern England about “Pikeys”. They’re not well liked by the general population of the British Isles, and thought of as sneaky and dirty. But they actually have a history, culture, and language that goes back hundreds of years, and can trace their roots to traveling blacksmiths and entertainers from the middle ages.
I know the Chinese have prided themselves on being settled farmers for longer than pretty much anyone else. But since their history is so long and their territory so vast, they’ve doubtless tried many other social experiments at various points.