In China, the calabash, or "bottle-gourd" plant, has long been used as a food and medi cine, and its hard shell as a bottle, a dipper and even an anci ent musical instrument. Gourds have traditionally
been used to carry medicine, wine and "magic" elixirs. Gourds were also tied to the backs of children
and boat people to serve as life preservers.
The Chinese word for gourd, hulu (葫芦), has other auspicious associations as well. In some dialects,
the character hu (葫) has a similar pronunciation to fu (福) which means "happiness" or "good fortune".
Therefore, saying hulu (葫 芦) for gourd would sound similar to fulu (福禄) which means "happiness and
rank (as in attaining a high government office)"
Gourds have had a multitude of uses, including food, kitchen tools, toys, musical instrumentsand decoration.Today, gourds are commonly used for a wide variety of crafts, i ncluding jewelry, furni ture, dishes, utens ils and a wide variety of decorations using carving, burning and other techniques.The Chinese developed a technique of tying a two-part mould round young gourds, or a part of them, so that the gourd grew into the mould and took its shape. Shaped gourds had various decorative uses,especially as boxes, bottles and other containers.