chopsticks hold a special place in the history of chopsticks and China.
China is not naturally rich in silver and was a rare commodity. During
the expansion of global trade in the 1500-1600's European countries
would travel the world, exploiting deposits of silver in places such as
South America and trade that with China for their fine silks and
ceramics. Silver was in such demand that it held mystical qualities.
made of silver have been around for more than 2,500 years. Mostly
silver chopsticks were exclusive to emperors and aristocrats. Commoners
could not afford such a luxury and sometimes would be executed if caught
with such a precious item reserved for only the highest of people.
was believed that silver would turn black if they came in contact with
poison and therefore were used by emperors as a protection against
poisoning. The desire for silver chopsticks and the poison-detecting
belief spread to Korean aristocrats.
Today we know silver has no
reaction to poison. Silver chopsticks are still popular among wealthy
families in China and Korea. Solid silver chopsticks typically cost
US$200-$400. Cheap silver plated chopsticks can be found for less but
their quality is generally very poor and will not last.
One of the
earliest silver chopsticks on display can be found at the Luoyang
Museum in Luoyang, China. The silver chopsticks are from the early Song
Dynasty and are part of a set along with a cup and spoon. Luoyang was
the capitol of the Han dynasty in the early 1st century and the museum
offers exhibits of the rich cultural heritage of early China.
Although they do not have silver chopsticks you can find many beautiful chopsticks at