Chopsticks, also known as "zhù" (箸) and "jiā" (梜) in ancient times, are one of the symbols of Chinese food culture. They are also one of the most commonly used eating utensils worldwide. They were invented in China and have a history of over three thousand years of daily use.
As the most common tableware used in everyday dining, the shape of chopsticks is carefully considered and holds great significance. One end of the chopstick is round, while the other end is often square. The round end symbolizes the heavens, while the square end symbolizes the earth, corresponding to the concept of "round sky, square earth." This represents the Chinese people's traditional understanding of the fundamental principles of the world.
Six Arts Members recently came together at the Six Arts DIY Handicrafts Center to participate in a hands-on DIY experiential activity making hand-made chopsticks. During the activity, the participants primarily used a woodworking plane, a tool commonly used in woodworking from ancient times until today. You can find a display of hand-made traditional woodworking tools, including the woodworking plane, in the Carpenter's Tools Gallery on the second floor of the Six Arts Museum.
Carpenter's Tools Gallery
The chopsticks are approximately 7.6 inches long, which is about 25 centimeters. First, the participants used a woodworking plane to remove the excess wood from all four sides of the chopsticks. Then, they used a file to smooth off the four edges on the front end of the chopsticks, resulting in a cylindrical shape.
Next, the participants rubbed the tip of the chopsticks against coarse sandpaper to create a pagoda-like shape. Then, they used sandpaper to gradually polish the chopsticks from coarse to fine, making them smooth. Finally, they applied food-grade wood wax oil and let it naturally dry, thereby completing the chopstick making process.
Making hand-made chopsticks not only allowed Six Arts Members to learn traditional woodworking techniques, but also helped them to cultivate concentration and patience. The completed chopsticks can be given as gifts to family and friends, or used as utensils to enjoy delicious food themselves.