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Chinese Chopsticks
China Information - China Folk Culture and Art

Chopsticks (Kuai Zi)

Chopsticks play an important role in Chinese food culture. Chinese people have been using kuaizi as one of the main tableware for more than
3,000 years.

In ancient times, chopsticks were called "jia" (meaning "to take") in the "Book of Rites". Later, it was called "zhu" --- a homonym with another
Chinese word which means "to stop". This was an unlucky word, especially for the sailors. Ships stopping en route could mean a disaster. In
order to avoid the ominous sound, fisherman called chopsticks "kuai", which means "fast" in Chinese. And "zi" is a suffix added to many small
things and kitchen utensils. Therefore, chopsticks became "kuaizi".

Chopsticks, which are usually 25 centimetres long, may be of many different kinds. The plainest of all are made of bamboo or wood (disposable
wooden chopsticks are now universally available), the most elaborate are of lacquered wood, bone or ivory. They may also be made of tin or silver.

There are a few things to avoid when using chopsticks. Chinese people usually don't beat their bowls while eating, since the behavior used to be
practiced by beggars. Also don't insert chopsticks in a bowl upright because it is a custom exclusively used in sacrifice.


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