Chinese chopsticks eating culture

Woman learning child how to eat with Chinese Chopsticks
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The history of Chinese chopsticks

Before the Shang dynasty, Chinese people didn’t use chopsticks to eat, they used their hands. So who started the culture of eating with Chinese chopsticks?

The translation for Chinese Chopsticks displayed in Chinese Characters

It’s said that the leading tyrant of China, King Zhou, slaughtered people like it was nothing. His beloved concubine, Da Ji, was a fox demon who added to his tyranny. They used their hands to eat but had different styles. King Zhou was hot tempered and liked to take large chomps. As soon as the food came to the table, he hurried to grab it. If it burned his hand, he would be furious and had to kill people. As for Da Ji, her appetite was small and couldn’t eat cold food. If the food was cold, she would kill too. One wanted cold, one liked hot. They kept killing people every now and then and killed a total of 81 chefs. This caused no one to dare to cook for King Zhou.

Later, the prime minister thought of an idea and said to King Zhou “My king, you have great fortune with food. Concubine Da Ji’s father is a prodigal chef. His cooking tastes amazing! It’s so nice that Chinese people forget about their worries.”

Hearing this, King Zhou was very happy and appointed Da Ji’s father to be the imperial chef.

Hearing this, Da Ji was quite shocked. She was worried about misfortune befalling her father. She quickly reached to the table and touched the food. It was quite hot. She thought to herself “Not good!” In her desperation, she pulled down the ivory hair pin and picked up a piece of meat with it and gave it to King Zhou saying “My lord! You don’t need to use your hand. Eating it this way feels better!”

King Zhou took a bite and it indeed felt better. Thus, he ordered to make a few more ivory sticks for dining purposes. He gave it the name ivory zhu. This was the first Chinese chopstick.

Woman learning child how to eat with Chinese Chopsticks

By the time King Wu attacked Zhou, King Wu of Zhou kingdom set up a banquet to treat the generals. Before the banquet, he grabbed the ivory zhu and wanted to say some encouraging words. But as soon as he thought of the word zhu, he frowned. Zhu was a homonym to zhu which meant stop. This wasn’t auspicious. Thus, he changed the word zhu to kuai and said “Please pick up the kuai and get your food! I wish you a speedy trip!” Therefore, zhu became kuai which is the modern day word for Chinese chopsticks.. Because ivory was expensive, most citizens used bamboo to make kuai. Therefore, the kuai character had the bamboo character added on top. This is the origin of Chinese chopsticks.

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