Enjoying Gourds

Enjoying Gourds
By James Gutschmidt
November 17, 2016

On Saturday last we visited Chesaw. Chesaw is an out of the way unincorporated town of a couple dozen people in Central Northern Okanogan. It is 19 miles from Oroville, and 7 miles from where we live. Its population swells to about 5000 on July 4 every year when they hold their rodeo. Other than that the only stimulating activities are their mercantile store, their country store and gas station, their community hall, their Quonset hut meeting hall, and their tavern with conversation and good eats, and, of course, the usual libation. For the religious minded they hold church in the community hall every Sunday. There is no city hall, no visible government, except that everyone just naturally behaves themselves most of the time.

This Saturday, we attended the bazaar in the Community Hall. It was filled with vendors. On sale were the usual fare of crafts, bead trinkets, fabrics and such, but the stand out items, to me, were the crafted gourds by Star Parker.

These containers were fashioned by Star in various sizes and shapes. Actually, they are grown into their shapes, but then carefully fashioned into the end product. They were crafted, decorated artistically, fabric lined, edged with Florida white pine needles, and, like I said, fashioned into their final product, worthy to display in a prominent place in ones home. I was told by Star that the original plant had to be cured for a year, before any crafting can begin. Now, I had never experienced a gourd, so the concept especially interested me, being a somewhat craftsman myself. Much care went into Star’s product. Some were decorated with painted on feathers, animals, vines, and flowers. They were superbly finished. A surprise vendor’s product worth traveling to see. For you gourd aficionados: Star Parker will be displaying her gourds at the Tonasket High Bazaar on December 2 and 3. And, she will again be displaying at the Oroville Senior Center Bazaar on Saturday, December 10, from 9 AM till 2 PM. That’s at 1521 Golden Street, Oroville.

I did some online searching and discovered more about gourds.

Chinese snuff bottle (Biyanhu) with body from a molded gourd, and a jade stopper
Chinese snuff bottle (Biyanhu) with body from a molded gourd, and a jade stopper

The Chinese developed a technique of tying a two-part mold around young gourds, or a part of them, so that the gourd grew into the mold and took its shape. Shaped gourds had various decorative uses, especially as boxes, bottles and other containers.

L. siceraria (gourd) was brought to Europe and the Americas very early in history, being found in Peruvian archaeological sites dating from 13,000 to 11,000 BC and Thailand sites from 11,000 to 6,000 BC. Wikipedia.

So, I guess gourds have been around a long time, everywhere, but this was a first for me. Never too old to learn I guess. There’s more:

There are gourd Craft books: “Complete Book of Gourd Craft.” (Link)

Gourd art: (Link)

There are gourd growing books: (Link)

There are gourd historical texts: (Link)

There are even erotic gourds (not for children): (Link)

Decorated to the masculine taste; I guess they serve some scandalous social function; maybe as a conversation piece?

Never would have thought. Imagine, gourds, in Chesaw.

After attending the bazaar I had a hamburger at the Chesaw Tavern; interesting tavern, interesting people, good hamburger. Great fun, unwinding from the grind in Chesaw, and enjoying gourds.

A place where time stands still. Chesaw.

Article by James Gutschmidt is on special loan to North Okanogan – an Online Magazine. All rights reserved by international copyright laws.

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