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abcdefg

Long chopsticks

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abcdefg

It's a lazy Sunday morning and I wanted to ask a small historical question that definitely does *not* have any earth-shattering consequences. I was re-watching an episode from "War of Three Kingdoms" earlier this week (episode 12) and came across a scene in which a character (Cao Cao) is eating a simple meal at home alone. 

 

He appears to be using really long chopsticks. Much longer than ones in common use today. At first I thought it might be a trick of cinema perspective, but it was consistent from different camera angles. This series has been very historically accurate with details such as weapons of war, and I got to wondering if chopsticks back then, late Han Dynasty, were simply longer than they are now. 

 

475613280_longchopsticks2--episode12-60-50.thumb.PNG.684cc6e89051b4e4f46a441b4eedafae.PNG     1651247624_longchopsticksepisode12-60-50.thumb.PNG.950f20f6a4eaaa731797b6565b3015e6.PNG

 

Here's a snapshot of my daily use chopsticks beside a pair used for cooking or serving 共筷子。Cellphone and wristwatch for size comparison. 

 

1984674762_IMG_4574-45.thumb.jpg.f3d023e8f22e13cc9501f5e5c94745de.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anybody know? Like I said at the start, this is definitely not a life or death question: Just the product of an idle mind while sipping Pu'er tea on a quiet morning and I apologize in advance for wasting your time. 

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LuDaibola

Wasting my time?  Not a chance...questions like this are what makes this forum interesting, at least to me.  Relatedly, I've been watching the historical drama Nirvana in Fire and there's a wonderful scene where two martial arts spar with chopsticks.  They're seated at a birthday celebration and one challenges the other by catapulting her chopsticks across the room where the other party manages not only to deflect them but sends them back her way.  They then fly into the middle of the room and use the chopsticks as swords of a sort.  Chopsticks as lethal weapon?  I can see it.  (BTW, in another post I was questioning whether immersion through watching dramas was really as effective for language-learning as it's said to be.  Well, after watching another few episodes, I take back what I said.  I am really getting some phrases and words down by hearing them used repeatedly in this drama.  It's also helping my listening comprehension as I often stop to translate what I'm hearing (I mean into Pinyin as I'm watching with English subtitles, of course).)  I'll now have to check out War of Three Kingdoms.  Thanks abcdefg.

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Zeppa

@abcdefg How long in inches/centimetres are the two sorts?

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Luxi
15 hours ago, abcdefg said:

wondering if chopsticks back then, late Han Dynasty, were simply longer than they are now. 

 

Could he just be using the cooking chopsticks because he forgot he used his eating chopstick to hold his topknot?

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abcdefg

@Zeppa --  My individual eating chopsticks are 23 cm long, whereas my cooking/serving chopsticks are 30 cm long. I've seen longer cooking chopsticks at use in restaurant kitchens, used for stirring things in really big woks. Later today or tomorrow I'll go to a supermarket and have a look at the chopsticks section to see how uniform the size of the individual eating ones are. 

 

It could be that longer ones are considered more elegant or more formal, even today. Not sure, and I haven't had a chance to ask any of my well-educated Chinese friends.  

 

@Luxi -- I suppose that's possible (smile)! 

 

@LuDaibola -- Here's more about the "War of Three Kingdoms" TV movies. Excellent historical drama, well researched, well acted, well produced. This particular edition has fansub-supplied English subtitles, but they still speak Chinese. One thing that makes this a good learning tool is that there are 95 episodes, so you can really get to know the characters over time; you can become accustomed to the mannerisms of their speech.  

 

https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/55971-three-kingdoms-tv-movies/?tab=comments#comment-431780

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lakesandrivers

Do not mean to insult Qin warriors, but outsized chopsticks are as funny as outsized spoons:

 

Clipboard02.thumb.jpg.6d84f16fde03a0de69826bbc6b273896.jpg

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LuDaibola

Thanks for the link abcedfg.  This will definitely come after Nirvana in Fire.  I was a Korean drama addict before I started learning Mandarin and, for some reason, had found it difficult to get into Chinese dramas until I began watching Nirvana in Fire.  Now I'm hooked.  It helps when they're on YouTube because then you can slow the audio down.  Also, I became a Viki member because they offer a feature called "Learn Mode" that allows you to put your mouse over a subtitle and get the meaning and pronunciation of words and phrases.  Here's a link, for anyone who's interested: https://support.viki.com/hc/en-us/articles/231829048-How-to-use-Learn-Mode-

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Zeppa

@abcdefg I find this interesting but am ignorant about it. Like about most things in this forum. Wikipedia talks about length in inches. So your normal chopsticks would be about 9 in., which it regards as short, and your cooking chopsticks 12 in. It says that in China chopsticks are usually 27 cm/11 in. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chopsticks

I will be interested to hear more!

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abcdefg

Stand by for some major scientific research. I'll be going to Walmart later this morning. 

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Jim

Thought this was an interesting question. Quick search through some not very authoritative Chinese sources on the web seems to suggest that chopsticks coming out of early archaeological digs were about the same length or even shorter than the most common sort today. Wonder if they have some specific set in mind that inspired the ones in shot?

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abcdefg
4 hours ago, Jim said:

Wonder if they have some specific set in mind that inspired the ones in shot?

 

Could be. Maybe historically Cao Cao was known to his close friends as "that strange guy who always uses long chopsticks when nobody else is around." 

 

This afternoon I went to a nearby small Walmart and took a look at the chopstick part of the eating utensil section. Got a couple odd glances because I took along my tape measure. They had quite a few models, including metal ones, hanging side by side in a large rack. All of the "individual use" eating chopsticks were between 23 and 25 cm long.

 

602908053_IMG_20180522_142822_1-40.thumb.jpg.57256a05c8cb89791170cdaf77c9c6ba.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On another aisle nearby, I found some that were intended for cooking, according to the package. This type is also used for serving communal dishes in restaurants. They measured 30 cm. I've seen some for cooking that are longer. 

 

1172027366_IMG_20180522_143252_1-40.thumb.jpg.116c940a5d554e914a8e422c4f30ed5c.jpg  285131770_IMG_20180522_143050_1-50.thumb.jpg.4d83e6b88e94b1acb8da2dc1e9383753.jpg

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Timetrip

At Mawangdui they found at least one pair of Han dynasty chopsticks, if I remember correctly. Not sure about their length, though.

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carlo

According to this Mawangdui chopsticks were only 17 cm long, while Tang dynasty silver chopsticks reached 33 cm.

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abcdefg

Very interesting, @carlo -- Thanks!

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889

Could there be such a thing as over-sized stage-prop utensils, so the audience can make out the action clearly?

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Publius

My regular chopsticks and the very long chopsticks I use to practice kung fu.

IMG_20190504_210155.thumb.jpg.bb3343d4af343fd52cccf4bca68beb7f.jpg

Kidding. I though it would be useful when frying things. Used once and never looked at it again. lol

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abcdefg

I routinely use long ones for cooking. About 30 cm, as shown above in an earlier post. Your's look longer, @Publius -- closer to 40 cm. 

 

I have visited friends who live in the country and cook over a very large wok permanently set into a stone cooktop. A wood fire is built underneath, mainly with small sticks and twigs for fast, high heat. Wouldn't surprise me to learn that such oversized chopsticks as yours, the 40 cm ones, are used in such a setting instead of in a city home kitchen. 

 

Family with whom I spent a national holiday one year in a small village located in 弥勒县 also had a long, two-handed wooden paddle for stirring that big pot. The cooking room was halfway outside the actual home, covered by a roof but with one half wall open to the surrounding fields. Had to go outside into the courtyard to get from kitchen to living room 客厅。

 

Quote

My regular chopsticks and the very long chopsticks I use to practice kung fu.

 

I have a kung fu umbrella, but no kung fu chopsticks. Clearly I've been missing out. Will mention it to 师傅 next week. 

 

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