The Displaced Nation

A home for international creatives

EXPAT MOMENTS: Decorative Gourds

So summer ends, at least where we are, and we mark that with another Expat Moments.

The debate over whether aesthetics are universal or encultured is answered definitively in the high aesthetic value North American women place in “decorative” gourds.

Bubonically bucolic, these hideous, misshapen vegetables appear in supermarkets and at farm stands every autumn. The gourds I’m looking at have ridges, bumps and warts that cover the rind completely. Staring at these, my thoughts aren’t of pumpkins and butternut squashes, but of a diseased, pustule-covered body part. The talon-like stem of the gourd is dark, almost black. These . . . things . . . these devil squash would be better placed in a jar of formalin and displayed in the Hunterian alongside Charles Byrne’s skeleton and other morbid curiosities, instead they are arranged into wicker baskets and called seasonal centerpieces.

This post was first published on Culturally Discombobulated.

STAY TUNED for next Monday’s post.

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Image: MorgueFile

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3 responses to “EXPAT MOMENTS: Decorative Gourds

  1. Janice September 28, 2012 at 8:13 am

    My cousin, who lived in Tennessee, had gourds growing up the side of her house. She would do all kinds of decorative things with them. Most of them did not look as crazy as the ones you have pictured, but it was fun to see what she would do with them.

    • ML Awanohara October 1, 2012 at 12:24 pm

      @Janice
      What kinds of things did your cousin do with these gourds? I am genuinely curious. Like Anthony, I was surprised at their popularity when I came back to live here (I think the gourd phenomenon must have started while I was living abroad). But the only thing I could think of doing is to arrange them as a centerpiece on the table…

      • Janice October 1, 2012 at 4:38 pm

        She made bird houses, water dippers, painted pictures on them. She would clean them with some type of solution, let them dry out and then paint, cut them open and clean them out and do whatever. I wish I could tell you more, but she died six years ago and I don’t know of anyone else who does what she did.

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