I have two reasons for writing about this new and very elegant hashioki.
First, it features a pair of Mandarin ducks. As I have already written this blog before (“Lonely hearts,” May 2016), Mandarin ducks are a common Asian symbol for fidelity and marital love. A. little informal Internet research suggests that they an especially popular symbol in Korea, where they are thought to represent peace, fidelity and lots of children, making items with a Mandarin duck motif a popular Korean wedding gift.
So, in addition to featuring an item with a connection to love and marriage during the month that includes Valentine’s Day, it also seems appropriate to feature an item that represents a customary gift in Korea, given that the Winter Olympics are currently being held in South Korea.
Unfortunately, my research also indicates that Mandarin ducks are not quite as they seem. First, they don’t always mate for life; some pairs only mate for a season. Second, the colorful male ducks may be avid suitors, but they don’t make good fathers. Third, Mandarin duck females like to lay their eggs in the hole of a tree trunk, which seems like a very strange place for a water fowl to place her nest. And finally, female Mandarin ducks don’t quack. Instead they make a chicken-like clucking noise when they sense danger… or possibly when their spouse returns to the next after a night out with the boys.
Despite these discoveries, I am a little disappointed that this beautiful chopstick rest was sold on its own, and didn’t come with a mate. How can I use it when I set the table for dinner with my own mate?