Thoughts About the History of Chopsticks in China

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The following is an excerpt from the catalog of a manufacturer of chopsticks in China. It reflects how much the Chinese regard chopsticks as a vital part of their history and culture.

Thoughts and Feelings on Chopsticks

Preface

You come from the remote past, delicate and slim, despite the vicissitudes of life in a fast-changing world. You carry on towards the future with determination. Your name is 'Jia', 'Kuai' or 'Zhu'. Billions of people hold you tight in hand three times a day - breakfast, lunch and supper - continuously from generation to generation linked by the ties of blood, good luck and long life.

Legends

In the beginning our ancestors taught us how to drill wood for fire. And then how to use it to cook food. Thus, man stepped from savagery into civilization.

When King Zhou demanded to be served at meals with ivory chopsticks, he was destined to lose the heavenly mandate for his Shang Dynasty.

When Xuan Zong awarded his prime minister a pair of gold chopsticks for his straightforward admonition, he set a model of correct governance that went down as a shining achievement of the great Tang Dynasty.

When Empress Dowager Ci Xi had a pair of chopsticks wrapped with a piece of silk before burying it in a dug hole to pray for the safe delivery of her heir apparent, she was unable, nevertheless, to arrest the downward trend of the fall of the Zing Dynasty.

When President Nixon used chopsticks at the state banquet given in his honor in Beijing, Sino-American unfriendliness began to thaw.

Oh chopsticks, commonplace household utensils in China, you have borne witness to the full sweep of the millennium-old magnificent cultural history of China.

Subtle Associations

Let me present you a dozen pairs of chopsticks or twenty-four chopsticks to be exact. Each has a wonderful tale to tell.

'Dozen' stands for the twelve months of the year together with their respective features. 'Twenty-four' is for the twenty-four festivals spread over the four seasons with their respective propitious winds and rains for farming. Together they provide for happy and lucky occasions for one to make great plans or launch ambitious enterprises, and will make your family rich and prolific with offspring ever more and more successful.

Let me present you a dozen pairs of red chopsticks as the dowry for your daughter, wishing the couple to love each other dearly and their family to grow up in prosperous and healthy circumstances. Let me again present you a dozen pairs of red chopsticks to celebrate the laying of the upper beam in your new house. May the location of your house attract a continuous flow of financial resources.

Let me finally lay a dozen pairs of chopsticks on the banquet table under the new roof to entertain your honored guests and relatives.
Now shall we raise the golden cups to pray for the happiness and the best of health of all!

All Chinese treasures are wonderful but only chopsticks are auspicious as well. Let all of us be well-satisfied. Long live the People's Republic of China!

Characteristics

Graceful green bamboo is firmly rooted in rugged cliffs, tenacious, noble, unrelenting, and ever pressing forward. It is made into a pair of plain-looking chopsticks. They symbolize equality, amity, cleverness and dexterity, equal share of weal and woe, and quiet devotion. These characteristics fully reflect the fine qualities of Chinese youth, male and female alike. Even conjugal bliss and racial unity are achieved through chopsticks as go-between. They are the cultural heritage of the East including Japan and Korea. Let the rest of the world regard us in a new light whether we are addressing to Australia or Africa or to France or the United States.

Tribute

Why do Chinese students capture the world academic olympiad championships so often? Scientists say that the use of chopsticks can raise one's intelligence.

Why do the Japanese head the world's life span? They often change their chopsticks - a hygienic habit.

The Chinese chopsticks have made a great contribution to the civilization of the world. Why haven't they become the fifth great invention of China? They not only have wielded a great influence on its neighboring countries but have made them regard China in a totally new light as well.

Who of the billion-odd Chinese do not use chopsticks at meals? The luxuriant blue bamboo covering the mountains are their inexhaustible raw material which also makes the hills ever green and waters ever blue and China incomparably beautiful.

Tens of billions of people must have eaten with chopsticks through the ages. Have you ever realized the significance of such a striking statistic? If the people of the whole world use chopsticks instead of forks and knives, what a tremendous amount of metallic resources can be saved.

Blessings

A pair of chopsticks may represent a phase of long history, a stretch of beautiful scenery, a moving story, a close-up, a difficult complex, or simply honest blessings. Let the plain-looking chopsticks be the cultural messenger of China to disseminate throughout the world the finest racial image it can leave for mankind so that it may go down in history as the eternal Chinese story in the treasury of human culture.

May happiness always keep company with good people! May the whole world live in eternal peace!

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