Q+A13 Ivory Chopsticks – made in Hong Kong?

From Newsletter 7, sent out on 30th June 2013.

Hugh Farmer saw an AFCD sign by the path leading to Sheung Yiu Folk Museum, Sai Kung, which said,

“Rough leaves of the sandpaper vine, Tetracera Asiatica, were used for polishing ivory chopsticks and tinware…”

I wonder when, where and by whom such chopsticks were made in Hong Kong?

The Image on the Home Page are of “Ivory chopsticks seized by the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department and  displayed during a news conference in Hong Kong November 15, 2011.” Courtesy: Reuters

Sandpaper Vine Tetracera Asiatica Courtesy Lee Kong Chian Nat History Museum Photo Wang Luan Keng

Sandpaper Vine – Tetracera Asiatica, Courtesy: Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum Photo Wang Luan Keng

See: Tetracera indica Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

This Q+A was first published on 6th November 2013.

If you can provide further information about the production of ivory chopsticks in Hong Kong or indeed of chopsticks made of any material please contact:

Hugh Farmer indhhk at gmail dot com


  • Thomas Ngan

    Ah, Ivory chopsticks. They had been popular among locals. At least for those have a better living. It was still very popular just before the Government outlaw local ivory trading and its relative processes services locally in the 1980’s. I am uncertain of the exact date but one of my friends lost his job of ivory works apprentice at that period of time.

    There used to be retailers in many districts, big and small. There were Ivory Mahjong pieces too. Other common ivory products being sculptures, combs, bracelets, pendants, etc. You may still be able to find some Ivory pieces on display in Chinese Arts & Crafts today.

    My 2 cents,
    Thomas Ngan


  • Hugh Farmer

    Thanks Thomas. It would be interesting to know exactly where the range of ivory products you mention were made in Hong Kong. And what techniques or processes were involved. Perhaps your friend could provide some information.

    I believe Hong Kong announced a moratorium on all raw ivory imports on June 16th 1989. However, any traders or importers who had entered into contractual agreements before this date were exempt.



    I have a few pair of ivory chop sticks from the days that I lived in Hong Kong.
    Over time they become stained as you know.
    What is the best way to remove these stains?

    Thank you,

    Wayne Thornhill

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