We had so much fun with cabbages in the last post, I thought we’d try gourds. No toilets this time, though.
Why are these gourds, which are called hú lu (葫芦), all over this neighbourhood?
Taxi drivers hang little ones from their rear-view mirror sometimes. Restaurants and businesses hang them on the walls. People hang them from the bars over their windows. What’s the deal with the gourds?
I’ll give you a clue: it’s indirectly related to cabbages, and it’s a wordplay.
[CLICK HERE to reveal the answer.]
- The gourds are shaped like number 8’s. “Eight” in Mandarin is pronounced bā. Bā sounds like fā (发), and fā cái (发财) means “to get rich.” Fā (发) is also part of the Chinese New Years greeting we used to mimic in elementary school: gōng xǐ fā cái (恭喜发财). The connection between the shape of the gourds and getting rich makes them a popular good luck trinket.
- Our neighbours, who grow húlus on their yángtái, say it has nothing to do with the number 8. They say people like them because húlu sounds like fúlù, which has something to do with 福 (blessing; good fortune), and I’m guessing the lù is 禄 (good fortune; government job) but they didn’t give me the hànzì.
I asked how much they cost – apparently it depends on the shape and quality. The guy told me over 800元 ($114) for the best ones with painted pictures on them, and 5元 ($0.71) for the cheapest ones.