Gallery tag with gourd definition is included:
This Is A Vegetable?
Gourds are hard-shelled members of the squash and pumpkin families. They grow in a variety of shapes, and, once dried, are suited for many uses. Natives in many cultures grew them for use as containers, scoops, rattles, masks, and other ceremonial and functional vessels. American Southwest, Plains, California, and Northern/Eastern Woodlands Indian Nations used them in their daily routines for centuries, but upon their arrival, early settlers soon discovered their value.
Grown in a field for several months, a gourd after harvest must cure properly, taking months to dry and harden, slowly and evenly. Only then is it ready to serve its purpose, which may vary from holding sacred herbs and stones during ceremonies, to being coated with beeswax, filled with water, and tied to a saddle or backpack as a canteen, or indeed, simply a beautiful piece of art. There are some 25 different varieties, ranging from tiny "jewelry" gourds as small as two inches, to huge 18-inch diameter giants. When dry, they can be carved into vessels and other functional art.
Carefully coaxing lids and creatures from the hard, dry surface requires careful and gentle strokes of the knife. The thinner the gourd, the more easily broken is the shell. The thicker the gourd, the harder it is to carve without using force, which causes breakage. Cleaning the seed ball and membrane from the interior of the gourd is sometimes painstakingly slow. The result, however, reveals a velvet-like interior which can be dyed, painted, coated with wax or other finishes, or left in its natural splendor. To keep it looking its best, dust with a soft cloth. Each gourd presents its own challenges to emerge as a work of art, and offers a prayer for its owner.