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A “bowl” is what we used to serve food daily. Chinese bowl shows a continuous development since imperial times, from iron bowls used by grandparents, to ceramic bowls which are now been using by us. Different sizes of bowls are used accommodate to different purposes. Chinese is very particular when it comes to bowls, that is why taboos such as not to anyhow throw old bowls away, not to use cracked bowls, etc. are often heard. Here are the 10 things we need to know about “bowl”, remember to keep it as reference!
1. Do not simply throw your bowls away
Many people think that moving house might need to dispose of old furniture and buy a new set, and of course, this would include the used bowls. However, this is a taboo in Chinese culture. No matter it is a new or old rice bowl, it means your job, career, business; hence, by throwing bowls away means that you are getting rid of your job and business! Furthermore, “bowl” sounds the same as “finish” in Chinese [bowl (碗 wăn) and finish (完wán) are homophones], if you throw it, you are finished. This is the reason why some people’s career and family live have deteriorated after they move their house. Therefore, please bear in mind that do not simply throw your used bowls away!
2. What should you do with unused bowl?
You can’t throw old bowls away, so what can you do with those unused bowls when you are not planning to keep them? You can gift it to your friends or families, which carries the meaning of “long-lasting”. Take note that only “longevity bowl” can be given away to outsiders. It is impolite to give normal bowls to outsiders as it represents “finish”.
Note: If you really have to throw old bowls away, wrap it up using red cloth before disposing of it!
3. It is a bad sign when rice bowl breaks into two pieces!
If your rice bowl breaks into half when you are eating halfway, it might be a sign of bad luck, the spirit of the deceased coming back home, or patient is in critical condition. In Chinese belief, if the bowl breaks by its own, you have to pay more attention to the elders and patients around you.
4. Do not use cracked bowls!
To save money, people choose to keep using cracked bowls; no matter there is a tiny or large crack on the bowl. Some hawker stalls or downscale restaurants will not replace worn bowls with new bowls. However, this is exactly one of the taboos in Chinese culture! Worn bowls represent your business or job is undependable and unstable, have low income or even the wicked come to power. Furthermore, using cracked bowls might lead to the possibility in cutting your lips; therefore, you are advised not to use cracked bowls.
5. Broken bowls can be used for offering rice to the deceased
In funeral ceremony of Northern China, people serve rice in broken bowls and place it on the altar table, with incense stick standing upright to show respect to the deceased. After the ceremony, the bowl will not be used anymore.
6. Stealing rice bowl at “Laughing Funeral” (Xi Sang)
The laughing funeral is reserved for deceased person who has lived a long life. The next of kin should be happy about the departure and not to be sad. It is said that people who brings back the bowl after attending “laughing funeral” will also live a long life. Bowl like this is called “longevity bowl”, it could avoid evil spirit and prevent disaster for kids while for adults, it may bring in good fortune. However, no one knows when was this culture being practiced, and we seldom see this culture in our country.
7. Remember to say “be safe and sound every year” (Sui Sui Ping An) when you break a bowl
On certain occasions, breaking a bowl is believed to be an omen and sign. Therefore, if that happen, we always say “Sui Sui Ping An(岁岁平安)”. [age (岁suì) and broken (碎suì) are homophones; “Ping An (平安)” means “safe and sound”.] — which means you’ll be safe and sound every year, turning the fact that something is broken to a good wish.
8. Hold the rice bowl in hand rather than putting it on the table!
You must hold the rice bowl in your hand rather than putting it on the table when you are eating. To follow the proper Chinese etiquette for table manners, you should support the bowl with your palm when you are eating with elders or people with higher status; put your thumb on the rest of the bowl, support the bottom of the bowl with the middle, index, and ring fingers when eating with others. If you don’t pick up your bowl, bend over the table, and eat facing your bowl, it will be regarded as bad table manners.
9. Never serve rice using Feng Shui bowl
Feng Shui bowl is not to serve rice, it is to create a good Feng Shui in the office. You have to refer to your element to place a specific kind of bowl such as ceramic bowl, copper bowl or wooden bowl, fill up with Remedy Water (YinYang Water) and place some coins in it. Feng Shui bowl is normally placed by the window because here is the entry of Feng shui energy flow; coins in water brings the meaning of metal generates water, while water represents wealth and this can keep you away from malefactors. However, do note that not all windows are suitable for collecting good luck.
10. Breaking bowls during funeral for good wish
This is a culture practiced among the people. If a wedding ceremony cross path with a funeral procession, people will break the bowls in order to avoid clashing of luck.
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Translated from: 忽略这10件事很可能会害你丢了“饭碗”！不要小看家里的饭碗哦！