US $161

Papers – Washi, Unryushi, card, cartridge
Framed size 914 x 305mm
What is it?
A  gourd or calabash is a fruit on a vine which when harvested mature can be dried and used as a utensil.
In Japan, the species is known as hyōtan  referring particularly to the larger-fruiting variety whose fruits are used for making containers and handicrafts.
Gourds were used as flasks or containers for water, alcohol, medicine and seeds. It was believed that seeds kept in such containers always bloomed successfully. They thus signified happiness or success to people.
The gourd is associated with Hideyoshi, a man of humble birth who is a famous historical samurai hero. He chose the gourd as one of his heraldic signs. No other family had adopted the gourd as a mon, as it was considered to be ignoble, being used to carry sake which led to licentiousness.
He added extra gourd motifs to his ensign every time he won a battle and subsequently it became a famous symbol of victory.
Fun Facts
  • The gourd was one of the world's first cultivated plants grown not primarily for food, but for use as containers.
  • There is a Japanese saying "Hyotan kara koma ga deru” meaning that things can happen in unexpected places.
  • A set of three gourds are a good luck symbol as the sound "san-byoshi sorou" in Japanese means a great person all-round.
  • A set of six gourds is even luckier, because "mu-byou" means no sickness!

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