the thank you finger tap on Flickr – Photo Sharing!
how to say “thanks” quietly at the dining table.
“When someone is pouring tea, you will often see the recipient tap the table with three fingers three times. This is a polite form of saying thank you and has its origin in an incident from Chinese history.
Legend says that during the Qing Dynastyan emperor wanted to see how the common people really lived and decided to inspect his lands by going incognito and pretending to be an ordinary traveler. While visiting South China, he once went into a teahouse with his companions and in order not to arouse suspicion to his special status, took his turn pouring tea for his courtiers.
His shocked companions wanted to kowtow (ritual bow) to him for the great honor he was doing them, but this would reveal his identity. Therefore, the emperor told them to discretely tap three fingers on the table. One finger represented the bowed head and the other two the prostrate arms. This is the origin for the custom of discreetly ‘tapping-your-thanks’ whenever someone pours you a cup of tea. Likewise, when offering a match or light for someone’s cigarette they may tap the back of your wrist also signifying thanks.” www.chinastrategies.com/cbeexcerpt.htm