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Chopstick Descriptions

To help you select your chopsticks we have included descriptions of the upper handle profile and tip design features for all the chopsticks in our store. Use this guide to choose the style of chopstick that best suits your needs.

Profile - The handles of chopsticks come in a variety of shapes. Most chopsticks are a blended shape of round with a slight squaring of the faces.

Square: Square to mostly square with some rounding of the edges.
Round: Perfectly round handles.
Triangle: Triangular shaped with rounded edges.
Blended: Almost round with some slight squaring of the faces.

Tips - Some chopsticks have carving or texturing of the finish to help grip foods. If no description of the tip is given there is no texturing or carving on the chopstick tips.

Grooved: Grooved rings have been carved around the tip for about the first 2 inches.
Textured: A slight texture or roughness has been applied to the finish for about the first 2 inches.
Square: Tip is a square profile with corners that help grip food.

How many chopsticks am I getting? - We only sell PAIRS of chopsticks.  So if you order a quantity of 1, you will receive 1 pair of chopsticks.

Chopstick Origins

Traditional Style Differences

Chopsticks from different parts of Asia traditionally have distinct differences in style and construction. Japanese chopsticks are typically about 9 inches long, generally have anything but round profiles (meaning square, rounded square, hexagon, triangle, octagon, etc.), taper to a fine tip, and feature sophisticated lacquer and finish. Chinese chopsticks traditionally are about 10.5 inches long, feature round or square profiles, have a larger tip that is frequently cut and not rounded, and have lighter lacquer finishes. Chopsticks from Thailand and Vietnam are long like Chinese chopsticks, have round or square profiles, have tips more tapered than Chinese but less than Japanese chopsticks, and relish in their wood and exotic material inlays with no finish except hand polishing of the wood.

Modern Manufacturing Differences

Today China creates a seemingly endless array of what we would call "everyday" Japanese style chopsticks for the export market. "Everyday" Japanese style chopsticks are those that use primarily a decal for the design and are mass produced for use in everyday eating. Many Chinese made chopsticks have the same designs as Japanese made counterparts. However in our experience the Chinese made Japanese style chopsticks tend to have inferior or at least a different level of attention given to the finish work and construction quality, showing blemishes in the lacquer, use of softer woods, inconsistency of shape and poorer quality design of the overlay decal. For this reason we generally sell Japanese made Japanese style chopsticks which cost a bit more.

We do not see Chinese made Japanese style chopsticks in the hand-made and specialty finished chopsticks, which generally includes most Japanese chopsticks priced $8 and up. In fact each region or country's more unique, elaborate, handcrafted styles still come only from their fine indigenous craftspeople.

Instructions for use and care of chopsticks

• After use, wash with hot water and wipe dry with a soft cloth.

• It is possible for warping or discoloration to occur, so please store the chopsticks out of direct sunlight.

• Regarding protecting the paint or designs on the chopsticks, do not place the chopsticks in or near fire or extremely hot water.

• Please do not use brillo pads or abrasive cleansers on the chopsticks.

• Do not use the chopsticks with dish washers, dish dryers, or microwaves.

• If the chopsticks' paint becomes chipped or cracked, please replace the chopsticks as soon as possible.

• The ends of the chopsticks are sharp, so children should be especially careful when using.

• Please do not use the chopsticks for anything other than eating.

The History of Chopsticks

(Zhu)

(Kuaizi)

 

Chopsticks play an important role in Asian food culture. Chopsticks are called "Kuaizi" in Chinese (and means "quick little fellows") and "Hashi" in Japanese. In Chinese ancient times they were called "Zhu." Chinese people have been using chopsticks as main tableware for more than 3,000 years and were first used about 5,000 years ago. By A.D. 500, chopstick use had spread from China to present day Vietnam, Korea, and Japan.

It is thought that people cooked their food in large pots which held heat for a long time, and hasty eaters then broke twigs off trees to retrieve the food. By 400 B.C., because of a large population and dwindling resources, food was chopped into small pieces so it could be cooked rapidly to conserve fuel. The pieces of food were small enough that they negated the need for knives at the dinner table, and thus, chopsticks became staple utensils. It is also thought that Confucius, a vegetarian, advised people not to use knives at the table because knives would remind them of the slaughterhouse.

In Japan, chopsticks were originally considered precious and were used exclusively for religious ceremonies. The earliest chopsticks used for eating looked like tweezers; they were made from one piece of bamboo that was joined at the top. By the 10th Century, chopsticks were being made into two separate pieces.

Traditionally, chopsticks have been made from a variety of materials. Bamboo has been the most popular material because it is inexpensive, readily available, easy to split, resistant to heat, and has little perceptible odor or taste. Cedar, sandalwood, teak, pine, and bone have also been used to make chopsticks for the greater population. The wealthy, however, often had chopsticks made from jade, gold, bronze, brass, agate, coral, ivory, and silver.

During dynastic times it was thought that silver chopsticks would turn black if they came into contact with poisoned food. It is now known that silver had no reaction to arsenic or cyanide, but if rotten eggs, onions, or garlic were used, the hydrogen sulfide they released might cause the chopsticks to change color.

Traditionally Chinese chopsticks are usually 9 to 10 inches long and rectangular with a blunt end. Japanese chopsticks differed in design from Chinese chopsticks in that they were rounded and came to a point; they were also shorter (7 inches long for females and 8 inches long for males) than Chinese chopsticks.

For those really interested in chopsticks visit the Kuaizi Museum in Shanghai. The museum has collected over 1,000 pairs of chopsticks. The oldest pair is from the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907 AD).


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