吉祥如意的葫蘆

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1981 / 1月

文‧楊小萍 圖‧曉陽


葫蘆在中國有悠久的栽種歷史,民間有關葫蘆的傳說故事也很多,相傳它是古時神仙用來裝酒、裝仙丹的寶物,自然多少沾染了仙氣,故一直被視作吉祥如意的象徵。除此而外,它還有許多實用的功能,除了內部果肉可以食用外,外皮晒乾處理後,可以充作多種用途的容器。台北市有一個葫蘆老人鍾盛,種葫蘆、玩葫蘆是他的嗜好,他並且進一步動腦筋把葫蘆加工,加上各種的點綴,使別人看到會忍不住也想擁有一個。於是他不僅使自己的老年生活過得充實而有趣,發揚了傳統文化的一部分,更將祥瑞之氣,散發給許許多多的同胞。


歷史久,用途多

葫蘆原名「壺蘆」,是一種瓜類菜蔬,在中國有悠久的栽種歷史。詩經豳風篇「七月」一文,描述約三千年前中國農民生活的情形,其中提到「七月食瓜、八月斷壺」。這裡的「壺」,指的就是葫(壺)蘆。

葫蘆依外形的不同,可分為好幾種:圓筒長條狀的,稱做「瓠瓜」;由上往下膨大呈梨形的,稱做「匏瓜」;腹大扁圓的,叫「壺瓜」;兩頭圓橢,中有細腰的稱為「蒲蘆」。

上述的前三種葫蘆,目前仍可常在菜市場看到,是廉價的菜蔬。最後一種蒲蘆因中間有細腰,刨起皮來頗為費事,比較不受大家歡迎,所以在市場上很少見到。

其實,蒲蘆不但味道甜美,而且它的造型曲線玲瓏、古雅美觀,適合玩賞,是葫蘆中外型最特出、功用也最多的一種,所以大家都直接以「葫蘆」稱呼它,它的本名「蒲蘆」,反倒鮮有人知了。

在中國關於葫蘆的傳說很多,相傳它是古時神仙用來裝酒、裝仙丹的寶物,而有「葫蘆寶」或「寶葫蘆」之稱。提起葫蘆,就令人聯想起民間神話「八仙過海」的八仙當中,鐵拐李腰間繫掛的那個葫蘆。葫蘆既是神仙隨身所攜之物,自然也就沾染了仙氣,流傳至今,一直是吉祥如意的象徵。

引發思古幽情

在古時候,葫蘆除了食用、觀賞和做「吉祥符」之外,還有不少用途:割成兩半可做水杓和飯瓢;把內部挖空可以裝酒或水。只可惜現在的人有了塑膠、不鏽鋼等各種材料的容器,都捨棄不用了。

然而,科技文明愈發達,人們對傳統古樸的東西愈懷念,也愈感興趣。雖然在今天葫蘆幾乎已經不具任何實用價值,但是許多人都喜歡把葫蘆當做擺設或垂吊的飾物,為緊張枯燥的生活增加古意和情趣,並希望藉此憑添幾分祥瑞之氣。

今年七十多歲的鍾盛,十多年前栽種了一棵葫蘆之後,對葫蘆深感興趣。從此,就忙著種葫蘆、玩葫蘆、賣葫蘆,和葫蘆結下不解之緣,現在已成為遠近馳名的葫蘆老人。

每天下午到夜晚,在臺北市東門市場、中山北路或西門町幾處鬧區,經常可以看到銀髯飄拂的鍾老先生,意態悠閒地推著一輛腳踏車在賣葫蘆。腳踏車的後座有個大木箱,箱面寫著:「葫蘆肚裡乾坤大,妙用無窮法在人」。箱上則掛滿大大小小、各式各樣的葫蘆,吸引了許多好奇的路人駐足圍觀。

期能藉以散播祥瑞之氣

鍾盛用手拂髯笑著說:「我賣葫蘆並非全為了賺錢,而是基於喜好和興趣。我希望大家來和我一起同享玩賞葫蘆的樂趣。」私底下,他喜歡將葫蘆分贈給來訪的親友,得意地向大家展示他心血的結晶。

鍾盛家住台北縣永和市,葫蘆卻種在桃園,地是租來的,約有一甲。他指出,葫蘆是一年生蔓性草本植物,每年要播種一次,今年在這塊地種過後,明年就要換過,因為葫蘆成長特別耗費養料,種過的地就貧脊了,所以每年都要更換種地。

葫蘆在春天播種,約一星期後,翠綠的嫩芽就會冒出土來,攀旋在竹架上,幾個星期就會爬滿整個竹棚。到了暮春開白花、結果實,結實期一直延至夏、秋兩季。這段期間,鍾盛每個星期都要抽出三、四天,到葫蘆園照顧他的寶貝,終日流連於葫蘆棚下,不忍離去。

鍾盛加工的葫蘆成品中,有些刻有古色古香的圖案,最常見的是福字、壽字,和龍、鳳、松、鶴。鍾盛說:「這些圖案,要在葫蘆還小的時候,就刻在它的嫩皮上,隨著果實日漸長大,圖案的線條也會跟著凸現擴大,長大後再刻,就沒有這種效果了。」

為了確保刻畫圖案時沒有失誤,鍾盛想到一個方法。他把需要的圖案描繪下來,做成橡皮模子,刻畫前用模子在葫蘆皮上輕壓,圖案線條就會隱約顯現在葫蘆表皮上,這時,鍾盛只要拿起尖細鐵絲,在葫蘆上「依樣畫葫蘆」就可以了。

辛勤耕種,精心加工

葫蘆在幼嫩時,呈淺淡的翠綠色,聞起來有股清香,到了秋天才老熟,呈黃綠色。鍾盛說:「葫蘆採收的時候最怕風雨,偏偏那時是颱風季。因此,收成的好壞要看天氣,好時可以收幾千個,如果遇上颱風來襲,可能就只剩幾百個。」

葫蘆採摘後,要先在太陽下曝曬個五、六十天,讓果實的水份蒸發乾,瓤肉和籽仔乾縮剝落。這樣葫蘆就不怕摔、不怕蟲蛀,又不會腐爛,可以久貯不壞。

葫蘆曬乾後,鍾盛就想:「如果把內部挖空,不就可以像古人一樣,拿來裝酒和水嗎?」但是葫蘆的形狀奇特,要把內部挖空很不容易,鍾盛走遍台北的大街小巷,都找不到合適的工具,只好自己想辦法。他幾經思考摸索,終於設計出一個機器,拿到工具行訂做。機器頂端有一塊薄鋼片,鋼片的尺寸可隨果實內部空間大小自動調節。插上電後,鋼片迅速轉動,可以把葫蘆內部清除得很乾淨。

把葫蘆的頂端切掉,用電動鑽孔機鑽一個洞,然後用機器挖去裡面的瓤肉和籽子,再在葫蘆口配裝一個軟木塞。在出售之前,鍾盛還要用紅色或黃色絲繩編一個「吉祥結」,繫在葫蘆的腰間,細密的絲穗垂散在葫蘆肚子上,使葫蘆看起來更是古意盎然。

愈是拙樸,愈受人喜愛

鍾盛說:「葫蘆的原色是深黃略帶淺咖啡色,也可隨個人喜好上釉或噴漆,但是一般人還是比較喜歡原色的葫蘆,因為覺得它比較具有自然的拙樸之美。」

鍾盛住在一棟公寓的頂樓,在他家中的樓梯間,屋頂平台的工作間,都堆滿葫蘆。在平臺上還栽種了許多小種葫蘆,在葫蘆葉中,露出一個個拳頭大小的小葫蘆,玲瓏可愛。在鍾家客廳的酒櫃裡,擺的不是酒,而是各色各樣的葫蘆,有原色的,有漆朱紅色的,有刻字雕花的,就連花瓶、燭台,還有鍾盛隨身攜帶的水壺,也都是葫蘆做的。

鍾盛指出,葫蘆當作容器非常理想,不但無毒無臭,食物在葫蘆裡放過,還會沾上一點淡淡的香味。而且葫蘆如果經常使用撫摸,外殼表面會現出一層亮麗的光澤,他那個用了十多年的水葫蘆,就是最好的證明。

子女皆已長大成人的鍾盛,獨自照顧葫蘆園,從租地、鋤地、播種、澆水、施肥、噴藥到收成、加工、出售,全都一手包辦,雖然費神費力,卻樂在其中。或許正因他經常勞動,雖已年逾七十,身體還是非常硬朗,他的眼睛炯炯有神,說起話來聲音宏亮,走起路來健步如飛。

環肥燕瘦,個個都美

終日與葫蘆為伴,鍾盛和葫蘆有著深厚的情感。對於葫蘆,他有一個有趣的比喻。他說:「葫蘆的形狀細腰肥臀,有高、有矮、有胖、有瘦,就像小姐的身材一樣,而且無論『長相』如何,都各有可取之處。有些看來很不起眼,仍會有顧客非它不要。而在我的眼中,每個葫蘆都漂亮,因為它們都是我辛苦栽培的成果。」

種了十多年的葫蘆,偶而發現一兩個形狀怪異的變種,是鍾盛最高興的時候了。在今年的收成中,他發現了一對並蒂葫蘆,一個梨形葫蘆,一個三層(有二個腰)葫蘆,他非常珍視這幾個造型罕見的葫蘆,但並不準備一人獨享,他計畫送到國立歷史博物館展覽,讓大家觀賞。

葫蘆外觀古樸有趣,又寓意吉祥,可說是人見人愛,幾乎看到的人都忍不住想買一個做為紀念,所以鍾盛的葫蘆銷路相當好,一年可賣掉好幾千個。尤其是國慶和新年前後,大批的華僑和外國觀光客來臺,銷路最好。準備出國的留學生也會到處打聽,想要買幾個帶到國外去,藉以宣揚中華文化。

樂在其中,利己利人

鍾盛的年紀雖大,腦筋卻很靈活,他辛勤耕耘,改良設計,不但把自己的嗜好發展為一門賺錢的行業,使自己的晚年過得充實有趣,而且也把葫蘆這種寓意祥瑞的傳統器物保存下來,讓大家有福共賞,實在是一件利己利人的佳事。

〔圖片說明〕

P.18、P.19

圖1:葫蘆在春天播種,暮春時節開花結實,秋天收成。圖2:葫蘆表面的圖案要在果實幼嫩時刻上,圖案線條才會隨著果實的成長而凸現擴大。圖3:採收後的葫蘆要先在陽光下曝曬五、六十天。

P.16、P.17

圖1:鍾盛用鑽孔機在葫蘆口鑽洞,然後把內部掏空,配上軟木塞,繫個吉祥結,就是個理想的擺飾了。圖2:鍾盛在街上賣葫蘆總會吸引許多路人圍觀購買。圖3,4:葫蘆是吉祥如意的象徵,鍾盛加工的葫蘆,有原色的、刻字雕花的,也有上釉、噴朱紅漆的,全都散發出一種古樸、祥瑞的氣息。

P.20、P.21

圖1:加工過的葫蘆還可當成花瓶使用。圖2、3、4:鍾盛採收的變種葫蘆,依次為三層葫蘆、並蒂葫蘆、梨型葫蘆。

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EN

The Versatile Calabash


The calabash, or bottle gourd, has a long history in China. Describing the way of life among Chinese farmers 3,000 years ago, the Pinfeng chapter of the Book of Odes relates: "In July, the gourds are in abundant supply, but by August, the season is over."

Numerous legends have been passed on from generation to generation about the bottle gourd. One of them describes how it was treasured by supernatural beings in ancient times, who used it to store wines and medicines. The calabash also reminds the Chinese of one of the Eight Immortals known as Lee, who is depicted as a cripple who walks with the aid of an iron pole and carries a gourd at his waist. Through this, the bottle gourd has become an auspicious symbol.

The vegetable actually has several names in Chinese based on its variety of shapes, including hookua, paokua, hukua and pulu. Although the first three types can still be found on the market, the pulu has largely disappeared because of its awkward shape, which makes it difficult to peel. But in fact, the pulu is not only good to eat, but also looks attractive and has many uses. Cut into two sections vertically, it can be used to ladle water or rice. When the pulp is removed, it can be used as a container. Although the pulu can be carved into beautiful patterns to make an attractive ornament, it has been largely replaced by more mundane containers made from plastic and stainless steel. Many people have even forgot its original name, and refer to it as "hulu" instead.

Chung Sheng, aged 70, has felt a special bond with the pulu since he planted his first calabash vine 10 years ago. He has become famous for planting and carving pulus in various shapes which he carries on his bicycle through the streets in populous areas such as around the Tungmen market and on Chungshan North Road in Taipei. The sign on his bicycle reads: "The world of the pulu is a wonderful one, and it's up to you to enter it."

Asked about his unusual career, Chung smiles and strokes his white beard. "My motive is my love for the calabash rather than money. I hope everyone can share the joy I feel when I am with my plant." He takes particular satisfaction in presenting his beloved calabashes to friends and relatives.

On a hectare of land he has rented at Taoyuan in northern Taiwan, Chung intends to start sowing seeds for the next crop of bottle gourds. A week after sowing, delicate green sprouts appear, and as they grow, they climb up the bamboo framework he has erected. By late spring, the arbor will be covered with white blossoms, and in the fall, the plant will finally bear fruit. After being gathered, the pulu is laid in the sun for about 60 days to dry and be seasoned. Before he sells it, Chung usually ties a ribbon round the waist of the gourd. Some of his gourds are carved with Chinese characters meaning good fortune and long life, or auspicious animals such as dragons, phoenixes and cranes. Chung has worked out his own method to carve the gourd. After drawing a design, he makes a rubber mold which he presses lightly on the surface. He then uses iron wire to imprint the outline.

In Chung's apartment, which is also his studio, calabashes in various shapes and sizes, some plain and others printed vermillion, can be found everywhere. Since his children are grown up, he takes care of all aspects of his calabash business, from renting land, sowing seeds, watering, plowing and harvesting to processing and selling. His enchantment with the calabash makes all the effort worthwhile.

Chung likes to compare the form of his gourds to that of a woman-delicate, tall, short or buxom. No matter what the shape, a buyer can be found; in fact some of the quaintest gourds are the most sought after. "In my eyes, all of them are beautiful, because they are the fruits of my hard work," Chung says.

In the gourd family, freaks are given a special place. This year, Chung found one with two blossoms on one stalk, which produced a fruit shaped like a pear and having two waists. He is now planning to present it to the National Museum of History in Taipei.

Since bottle gourds are attractive in appearance and are regarded as auspicious, they are widely bought. On average, Chung sells several thousand each year, and business is particularly brisk during holidays such as Chinese New Year and Double Ten National Day, when local buyers are augmented by thousands of overseas Chinese who come to Taiwan. Students going abroad also account for quite a large proportion of Chung's customers.

[Picture Caption]

1. Gourd seeds are sown in the spring and the plant bears fruit in the fall. 2. A bottle gourd should be shaped when it is still immature to make sure it becomes an attractive ornament. 3. After being gathered, the pulu is laid in the sun for 60 days to dry and be seasoned.

1. Using a drilling machine to remove the pulp from the pulu. Chung then blocks the hole with a cork and ties a ribbon around the gourd's waist. 2. Whenever and wherever Chung sells his pulus, many curious customers gather around his bicycle. 3. & 4. Since the bottle gourd is regarded as an auspicious symbol, some of Chung's gourds are carved with Chinese characters meaning good fortune and same are painted vermillion.

1. The processed gourd can also be used as a vase. 2. 3. & 4. These are the unusual gourds grown by Chung this year.

 

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