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The History and Use of Chopsticks


Chopsticks originated in ancient China as early as the Shang Dynasty (1766-1122 BCE). Up till now, China has had a history of at least 3,000 years to have meals with chopsticks. Chopsticks seems quite simple with only two small and thin sticks, but it is in possession of many functions, such as picking, moving, nipping, mixing and digging. Besides, it is convenient for use and cheap in price. Chopsticks are unique tableware in the world. Anyone using chopsticks, no matter Chinese or foreigners, would without exception admire the inventor of chopsticks.

Due to its lightness and convenience, chopstick was introduced to our neighbor countries, such as Korea, Japan, and Vietnam, more than one thousand years ago. After the Ming and Qing Dynasties, chopsticks were introduced to Malaysia, Singapore and etc.. The appearance of chopsticks is not only a revolution of Chinese cuisine culture, but also a symbol of human civilization.

Many rules of etiquette govern the proper conduct of the use of chopsticks. Held between the thumb and fingers of one hand, chopsticks are used like tongs to pick up portions of food which are prepared and brought to the table in small and convenient pieces. They are thought of as an extension of one's fingers. Chopsticks may also be used (except in Korea) as means for sweeping rice and other nominal morsels into the mouth directly from the bowl.


Chopsticks are traditionally held in the right hand, even by some left-handed people. Although chopsticks may now be found in either hand, a few still consider left-handed chopstick use as improper etiquette. This practice prevents a left-handed chopstick user from accidentally elbowing a right-handed user when seated closely together.

The chopsticks most frequently used by people are bamboo chopsticks. The purple bamboo chopsticks and Xiangfei bamboo chopsticks are also the rare varieties which are hard to be found at present. The Nanzhu chopsticks of Hunan can stand vertically in the clear water without falling and is called the magic chopsticks. The West Lake Tianzhu chopsticks of Hangzhou also turn out to be a special local product in this scenic spot. In addition, the silver chopsticks have the function of sterilizing, for scientists find that the sliver ion can sterilize most of the bacteria. The delicately made silver chopstick is very popular up to now, but people have regarded it as craftworks. The gold chopsticks with a high price are the symbol of royal and noble luxury. Moreover, in China, there are also chopsticks made of ivory, bones of cattle, camel and deer as well as tortoise shell. Even some clever craftsmen skillfully connect the tooth bones and make them craftworks. A kind of jade chopsticks are also the precious ones and the gold chopsticks and jade chopsticks used by Empress Dowager Cixi are on display in the Precious Treasures Museum of the Imperial Palace.

Today, chopsticks are not only one kind of tableware, but also a unique culture form, representing a kind of civilization, coming in front of us as a work of art for research, use, appreciation and collection.

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