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April 22, 2017

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Wooden spoons preserve traditions

MEMET Kadir and his son Enwaer Memet were born with a wooden spoon in their mouths.

The duo from Kalpin County in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have followed Memet’s father’s footsteps after the best spoon maker in their village taught his craft to him.

Every spring, apricot trees do not just bring beautiful blossom to people in Kalpin. They also add flavor to their meals, not just through the delicious fruit, but by offering the wood to make the best spoons.

Thanks to the vast apricot forests here, people in Kalpin have been making and using apricot wood tableware, especially spoons, for more than 2,000 years.

But with many cheaper and more durable plastic and metal alternatives, the art of making wooden spoons is fading.

Memet and Enwaer are some of the few craftsmen carrying on the tradition.

Despite their small size, making a good spoon requires many tools. Memet says patience and great care are important.

It usually takes them 20 minutes to carve and polish a spoon and each of them can make 20 to 30 spoons a day.

Wooden spoons are still the most popular tableware in Uygur households. Memet sells their work in the local bazaar every two weeks. Their spoons always sell out within two hours.

Recently, Memet branched out into making spoons with jujube wood, but the new products are not so popular because jujube wood has a stronger odor and a lighter color, says Memet. Kalpin people still prefer to scoop their food into their mouths with the time-tested, fragrant apricot spoons.


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