Reflections: Decorative gourds

by awindram

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The debate over whether aesthetics are universal or encultured is answered definitively in the high aesthetic value North American women place in “decorative” gourds.

Bubonically bucolic, these hideous, misshapen vegetables appear in supermarkets and at farm stands every autumn. The gourds I’m looking at have ridges, bumps and warts that cover the rind completely. Staring at these, my thoughts aren’t of pumpkins and butternut squashes, but of a diseased, pustule-covered body part. The talon-like stem of the gourd is dark, almost black. These . . . things . . . these devil squash would be better placed in a jar of formalin and displayed in the Hunterian alongside Charles Byrne’s skeleton and other morbid curiosities, instead they are arranged into wicker baskets and called seasonal centerpieces.

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