The history of Chinese spoon

- Nov 29, 2017-

  The spoon (bi) was known as early as the Shang dynasty. The earliest found were made of bone, but bronze specimens are also found that have sharp points, suggesting they were used for cutting. These could be more than a foot long. During the Spring and Autumn period a rounder form appeared, and lacquer spoons are also found, becoming popular in the Han dynasty.

  In ancient China the spoon was more common than chopsticks, which were used in cooking. The spoon was more useful for eating because the most common food grain in North China was millet, which was made into a congee, or gruel. The spoon was better fitted for eating its soupy texture in an elegant way.

  The spoon was gradually undermined as the most common eating utensil starting in the Han, roughly the 1st century A.D., when wheat began to be more widely grown. Milling technology became sophisticated enough to produce flour for noodles and dumplings. Since these were more easily lifted with chopsticks, the spoon lost its prominence by about the Song dynasty, or 10th century. Early-ripening rice, which was introduced from Vietnam at this time, was even easier to eat with chopsticks, since it cooked into clumps.

  The first compasses were created in China in the Han or soon after the Han by using a spoon shaped lodestone which rotated on a bronze plate.(see image below)

  In the system of classification used in the Kangxi Dictionary, compiled in the 18th century, Radical 21 (classifier #21) is "spoon."