Hu Lu in Canada quoting Chinese classics about gourds
Hu Lu began his speech with a gourd ladle brought from China which can be got when one gourd is divided into two parts. There is a gourd ladle story in The Analects of Confucius.The Analects of Confucius·Yongye says, "Yan Hui lives simply on a bamboo dish of rice and a gourd of drink in a poor alley. Few people can bear it while he doesn’t change his positive attitudes towards life and happiness. What a noble person Yan Hui is!" This is an allusion to the diligence of Yan Hui, the favorite disciple of Confucius 2,500 years ago. Yan Hui lived a simple life in an alley of Qufu, eating with a bamboo utensil (Dan) and drinking with a ladle, which was unbearable for others. However, in the circumstances, he followed his master Confucius, studying assiduously. Eventually he made brilliant achievements.
Hu Lu spelt it out by citing the classics. The Book of Songs · Youfeng says, “Eat melon in July, break pot in August.” Here “eating melon in July” means that the sweet gourd can be eaten in the seventh lunar month, while the bitter gourd cannot be eaten in large quantities, which may lead to body poisoning. There is a story about bitter gourds in the Analects of Confucius. The Analects of Confucius ·Yanghuo says, "Am I a bitter gourd? How can I be hung up out of the way, unable to be eaten?" It fully expresses the speaker's wish to actively enter the society and practice what he stands for in accordance with righteousness.
Hu Lu said that the gourd is round in shape, harmonious in upper and lower spheres, and has a distinct image of harmony, which is consistent with people’s desire for happiness, fortune, auspiciousness and harmonious and perfect life. In the cultural life of the Chinese nation, the gourd is a symbol of peace, auspiciousness, beauty and harmony and has become one of the most important auspicious totems. There is one beautiful folklore that hanging gourds above the bed can promote harmony between husband and wife. Such an auspicious totem is highly consistent with the concept of "Appreciating Harmony", the core of the traditional Chinese culture of Confucianism. For example, the idea of harmony among all countries in the world is embodied in such an expression as “Within the four seas all men are brothers” (the Analects of Confucius · Yan Yuan), the idea of harmony between people is embodied in such an expression as “A gentleman seeks harmony but not uniformity,” and the idea of harmony between man and nature is embodied in such an expression as “Man follows the earth, earth follows the heaven, the heaven follows Tao, and Tao follows the nature” (Tao Te Ching). All the above can fully demonstrate that gourd culture is closey tied to Confucian culture. We hope that through gourd, the ancient Chinese cultural symbol of hamony and auspiciousness, we will tell China's gourd story, spread the excellent traditional Chinese culture and promote family harmony, social harmony and world peace.
The writing art of Chinese characters – calligraphy – is also closely related to the gourd. Hu said that the initial form of Chinese characters are inscribed symbols, namely hieroglyphics or pictographs. The image of the gourd can be clearly seen during the development of Chinese characters. Many scholars believe that the Chinese character "卣" was once used to refer a gourd more than 7,000 years ago. It is clear that the image of gourd can be identified in the evolution of Chinese characters. The writing form of cursive script can best match the freehand brushwork of the gourd vine. The sketch of the cursive script twists up and down intermittently, swaying, looking forward, squatting back, overlying the underside, hoisting and contracting, being dense and wide, just like the winding gourd vines. Mrs. Wei, teacher of the great ancient calligrapher Wang Xizhi, once described the strokes of Chinese characters as follows: “A horizontal stroke is like a thousand li of clouds while a vertical one is like a long-lived withered vine.” The shape, situation and scene produced by the long-lived vines are just like the appearance of gourd vines which are old and hard, thick and elegant with vines twining themselves around each other.
On July 6, 2018, an article entitled “‘Belt and Road’ and Gourd Culture” by Hu Lu was published in Guangming Daily. The article said that the Chinese people love the gourd, so do the people in countries along the “Belt and Road”. Both Chinese people and the African people have a long history of gourd planting. At the same time, historical documents show that the Indian people share the same common understanding of the gourd’s cultural meaning of “multiple sons and grandchildren” with Chinese people, which can be verified by Ji Xianlin's translation of the seventeenth poem in the first thirty-seventh chapter of the great India epic Ramayana, "Sumati, a tiger-like person, gave birth to a long-shaped gourd. When people broke the gourd, sixty thousand babies jumped out of it". Gold Eagle, the folktale of Mongolia, also shows that gourd is an embodiment of breeding in Mongolia. As daily necessities and auspicious handicrafts, the gourd is loved by people from all walks of life in countries along the “Belt and Road”. Afghans in Central Asia have the habit of making cosmetic containers and snuff bottles out of gourd on festive occasions. In Israel, Turkey and some Arab countries, gourds are commonly used as smoking sets and decorative handicrafts. Gourd culture also boasts a long history in the United States, Japan, South Korea and South American countries.
General Secretary Xi’s proposal for the “Belt and Road Initiative” in 2013 to build a the community of shared future for mankind has been written into resolutions by the United Nations and has been widely recognized by the international community, which fully demonstrates the charm of harmony. Mr. Hu believes that “Glamor of the Gourd --Gourd Culture Tour Along the Silk Road into Canada” is a powerful manifestation of the implementation of the “Belt and Road” initiative.
“Both the left and right gourd ladles can hold thousands of fortunes; Both the big belly and small belly can accommodate all things in the world”. The homophonic “Fulu” gourd represents Chinese people's yearning for a better life. In the eyes of Hu Lu, the gourd is a big world.
(Pang Chunjie: Senior reporter of Dazhong Daily, member of the Chinese Writers Association)