Why are traditional Chinese chopsticks 7.6 inches long?
Updated: May 9
The use of chopsticks (筷子 kuàizi) as an eating utensil has been practised for thousands of years and is deeply rooted in the Chinese heritage. Since ancient times the length of a pair of chopsticks has been 7.6 Chinese inches long, representing our 7 emotions and the 6 senses.
Being joyful, angry, mournful, happy, sad, fearful and worried are the 7 emotions that we experience as human beings and having ears, eyes, nose, tongue, body and feelings represent our 6 senses. It was believed that these were the basic traits that defined us as human beings.
The typical pointed diamond shape at the end of a chopstick is not just for decorative reasons. It symbolises good luck and prosperity. The ancient Chinese believed the sky to be round and the earth to be square. As such, the chopstick is round on one end square the other, depicting the sky and earth, and our hand that holds the chopsticks in the middle, portrays man as the centre of the universe.
With the two chopsticks facing one another, represent the harmony of Yin and Yang.
Our 5 fingers represent the five elements of the universe which are metal, wood, water fire and earth.
The art of using the chopstick is not to be too forceful nor to weak. This serves as a reminder to be moderate and to focus on having a life committed to balance and wholeness.
Oscar Wilde once quoted: “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”