Ref. Number: 748

Country: China

Period: 19-20th Cent.

Material: Gourd

Dimension: 20 x 12 cm

A gourd is a plant of the liana family. We know that it could be used as food and medicine. However, in ancient China, calabash was also used to carry medicine and wine, as well as elixirs.

There is an old saying goes that “I don’t know what he has got in his gourd”, meaning that someone is wondering what the person is planning to do.

Ancient Chinese regarded the gourd to be a symbol of prosperity as it is prolific in fruits and seeds. In some areas, there has long been a custom of stealing gourds from others’ fields during the Mid-Autumn Festival, hoping that they could lead to having many children, especially sons.

It is also believed to be a charm to ward off evil spirits and disease because in Chinese, its first character hu has a similar pronunciation to fu, which means good fortune.

The Chinese name for calabash is hulu (simplified Chinese: 葫芦; traditional Chinese: 葫蘆; pinyin: húlu) or huzi (Chinese: 葫子; pinyin: húzi) in Mandarin.

The Chinese art form of nature as a found object encompasses many artifacts that are both functional and sculptural creating a clever association between the natural form, the function and the cultural image. This calabash, with an old glassy patina is a good example of such tradition.

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