Gourds, Calabashes and Coconuts

A gourd is a fruit of the calabash tree; here the term gourd and calabash mean the fruit of the plant. The terms refer to a number of species and subspecies of various shapes and sizes, many with hard shells, and some without.

Gourds and calabashes are some of the earliest domesticated types of plants; bottle gourds have been discovered in archaeological sites dating from as early as 13,000 BC. Since the beginning of their history, they have had a multitude of uses, including food, kitchen tools, toys, musical instruments and decoration. Coconuts occur naturally in tropical regions and throughout the world dried coconut shells are used as bowls and in the manufacture of various handicrafts, including carved buttons.

Dried and carved calabash, From Nigeria.

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Gourd, decorated with pokerwork, from East Africa.

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Carved gourd, decorated with pokerwork, from East Africa.

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Decoratively carved coconut shell, from Zanzibar.

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Calabash bowl with gouged and cut patterns, from Nigeria.

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Decorated and stained bottle gourd, from Yugoslavia (now Serbia).

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Bowl carved from a gourd with feet, East Africa.

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