Name ID 2441
Ondaatje, Christopher Journey to the Source of the Nile
Extract Author: Richard F. Burton
Page Number: 121a
Extract Date: 1857
The Lake Regions of Central Africa
In a country where pottery is scarce and dear, the buyu or Cucurbita lagenaria [which is the same plant as the European bottle gourd or calabash gourd] supplies every utensil except those used for cooking; its many and various adaptations render it a valuable production. The people train it to grow in the most fantastic shapes, and ornament it by tatooing with dark paint, and by patterns worked in brass tacks and wires; where it splits it is artistically sewn together. The larger kinds serve as well-buckets, water-pots, travelling-canteens, churns, and the sounding boards of musical instruments: a hookah, or water-pipe, is made by distorting the neck, and the smaller varieties are converted into snuff-boxes, medicine-cases, and unguent-pots. The fruit of the calabash-tree is also called buyu: split and dried, it is used as ladles, but it is too small to answer all the purposes of the gourd.