The word gourd is homophonic with "Fu" (means blessing) and "Lu" (means prosperity) in Chinese, and gourd has stretching vines and many seeds, meaning richness and many children, so it is liked by many Chinese people. Wu Changshuo (1844-1927, born in Anji, Zhejiang) was good at presenting gourds’ morphological characteristic and cultural connotation through freehand brushworks, and this painting is his representative work. In this painting, there are many gourds, the painter adopted boneless painting technique (no brush lines but just colors) to shape the fruits, not only showing its volume and weight, but also indicating a wealthy and abundant life. The layout of the picture is quite dense, with lush and overlapping leaves, indicating that gourds’ growth is exuberant. The gourds are in different sizes, and the painter distinguished tender ones from mature ones by different shades of colors. By bold and free-style cursive calligraphy, the painter presented winding and stretching vines, injecting vigor into the picture. Gourds can be used as containers, so the inscription on the painting reads: "We cut you open to be a wine gourd ladle, and my small room is about to get drunk!" This not only makes fun of the large gourd, but also displays the painter’s sense of humor.


  • Title: Gourds
  • Creator: Wu Changshuo
  • Date: 1890
  • Provenance: National Art Museum of China
  • Medium: ink and colors on paper
  • Artist's birth and death date: 1844-1927

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