Skip to main content

The story of Chopsticks

When the first English Seaman set his foot on the beach of the Yangtze River near Shanghai, he saw some Chinese fisherman having their lunch. Those fishermen invited him to join in, and gave him a bowl of boiled rice and a pair of bamboo sticks, and they shared a pot of chicken stew.

When the English seaman was watching interestingly how those Chinese fishermen pick up rice and chicken from the pot using a pair of bamboo sticks. Those fishermen waved their chopsticks, saying: "Chop, Chop. "(Eat, eat!) Then they showed him how to pluck chicken meat off the bone by the chopsticks. What they meant actually was to encourage the seaman to start eating, but the English seaman mistook it as the name of bamboo sticks. So he wrote in his sea diary: Chinese don't eat with forks and knives, they use chopsticks instead!

That's how this English word chopsticks has been invented. Actually, the Chinese word for Chopsticks was "Zhu", which sounds similar to the word "stop", so it became a taboo among the superstitious fishermen on the ship. They wish their boat sailing quickly, so they call chopsticks "Kuai", which means "quick". As such "Kuai zi" eventually replaced the original word "zhu".

Ying C Compestine invented a story for the origin of chopsticks in her book, and said "all Chinese people ate with their hands", and she gives credit for the invention of chopsticks to a hungry boy named "Kuai zi", who "pulled two sticks from the kindling pile and used them to spear chunks of hot food."

I wonder why Mrs. Compestine invents this story which is neither witty nor humorous, nor lacks of culture meaning. Actually, why do we need a human brain to use a stick to fish out food from a hot pot? The world’s foremost authority on chimpanzees, Dr. Goodall observed that even a chimpanzee can  use thin sticks to fish termites out of a termite mound, and they even use sticks to measure the depth of water and as "walking sticks" to support their posture when crossing.

Western people don't know how to use chopsticks, because they have been evolved too far away from their ancestor, and totally forgot how Adam and Eve ate with a pair of sticks, for there is no records in the Bible. But Chinese people continue to use chopsticks generation after generation, and they decorate the chopsticks with delicate calligraphy, pictures of dragons and phoenixes, and images of Chinese opera and landscapes. We use different materials such as wood, bamboo, silver, gold and ivory. We turn chopsticks into wonderful artworks, a pair of chopsticks are not only just eating tools, but also collectible art which bears five thousand years of culture and history.

It's said that the tyrant King Chou of Shang dynasty first ordered his craftsman to make chopsticks out of ivory, but we now know that there are no elephants around the Yellow River basin in the North China. Archeologists develops a theory of climate change on Central Kingdom, where once was a very warm area such as India. But most of the historians belive that the ivories which King Chou used had been tributed by nations from the south.

Ancient forensic also used silver needle to detect poisons such as arsenic, so it's wide spread belief that that silver chopsticks can detect poison for they may turn their silver colour into black when they came in contact with poisonous food. The fact was that the arsenic was not pure due to poor refinery technology, which contains traces of sulphur or sulphide which can produce a layer of silver suphide by chemical reaction, so that change the colour of silver.


Chopsticks is also a lethal weapon as deadly as knives and forks in the hands of Chinese kungfu master. I am not kidding, and it's one of real hidden weapons, and even more difficult to defense because the kungfu master don't have to take out flying darts, he simply shoots out his chopsticks while he's feasting with his enemy. A normal bamboo chopstick can penetrate a metal washing basin, you can imagine how it may happen when it hit human flesh!


We all know that you can easily break one chopsticks, but it's quite difficult to break a bunch of chopsticks. This is so called "unity is strength", and this story has been handed down generation after generation. Once upon a time, an ancient King who had twenty sons, every one of them has one merit or another, but they always fought against each other. One day, the King was lying in his deathbed, he summoned all his sons to his room, and gave one chopstick each, and ordered them to break it. The sons did easily. Then he gave them each a bunch of chopsticks, and again asked them to break it. But the sons found it was very difficult to do so, almost impossible. The King looked at them meaningfully, and breathed his last. The princes understood what their father was trying to teach them, and they stopped fighting each other, and worked together to create a powerful dynasty.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The wonderful pear-tree

Once upon a time a countryman came into the town on market-day, and brought a load of very special pears with him to sell. He set up his barrow in a good corner, and soon had a great crowd round him ; for everyone knew he always sold extra fine pears, though he did also ask an extra high price. Now, while he was crying up his fruit, a poor, old, ragged, hungry-looking priest stopped just in front of the barrow, and very humbly begged him to give him one of the pears. But the countryman, who was very mean and very nasty-tempered, wouldn't hear of giving him any, and as the priest didn't seem inclined to move on, he began calling him all the bad names he could think of. " Good sir," said the priest, " you have got hundreds of pears on your barrow. I only ask you for one. You would never even know you had lost one. Really, you needn't get angry." "Give him a pear that is going bad ; that will make him happy," said one of the crowd. "The o

The Fox and The Tiger

ONE day a fox encountered a tiger. The tiger showed his fangs and waved his claws and wanted to eat him up. But the fox said: 'Good sir, you must not think that you alone are the king of beasts. Your courage is no match for mine. Let us go together and you keep behind me. If the humans are not afraid of me when they see me, then you may eat me up.' The tiger agreed and so the fox led him to a big high-way. As soon as the travellers saw the tiger in the distance they were seized with fear and ran away. Then the said: 'You see? I was walking in front; they saw me before they could See you.' Then the tiger put his tail between his legs and ran away. The tiger had seen that the humans were afraid of the fox but he had not realized that the fox had merely borrowed his own terrible appearance. [This story was translated by Ewald Osers from German, published by George Bell & Sons, in the book 'Chinese Folktales'.  Osers noted that this story was

The Legend of The Three-Life Stone

The Buddhist believe metempsychosis, or the migration of the souls of animated beings, people's relationships are predestined through three states of life: the past, present, and future life. Legend has it that there's a road called Yellow Spring Road, which leads to Fogotten River. Over the river there's a bridge called Helpless Bridge (Naihe Bridge), at one end of the bridge sits a crimson stone called Three-life Stone. When two people die, they take this route to reincarnation. if they carve their name on the Three-life Stone together while they pass the stone, they are to be predestined to be together in their future life. Although before their rebirth they will be given a MengPo Soup to drink and thereby their memory of past life are obliterated. In reality, San-Sheng Shi (三生石), or Three-Life Stone is located beside Flying Mountain near the West Lake, Hangzhou. On the stone, there is seal with three Chinese characters that say "The Three-life Stone," and a