I hope you're having a happy decorative gourd season! Gourds, the versatile fruits from one of the earliest domesticated plants, have a very long and storied history: they've served as containers, telephones (sort of), utensils, instruments, clothing, loofahs, weapons, and autumnal decorations. Here are some good gourd facts.
- Have you ever wondered where loofahs (scrubby shower thing) come from? Gourds! You can even grow your own. I should note that there are also plastic loofahs which do not come from gourds.
- 1200 years ago, humans used gourds to make a crude telephone. They connected two gourds with 75 feet of cotton-twine, creating a device that transmitted sound. The artifact is now in Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.
- Bottle gourds were domesticated an estimated 12,000-13,000 years ago, making them one of the first species ever domesticated. One paper says that gourds "join the dog as a second 'utilitarian species' brought under domestication by humans long before any plants or animals worldwide were targeted for domestication as food sources."
- Indonesia once led an attempt called "Operasi Koteka" to get people in Papua to stop wearing penis gourds (called koteka) and instead wear modern, Western clothes. It failed miserably. A publication from the Textile Society of America notes "the impact it did have to elevate the koteka's status and make it a symbol of local identify.
- In battle, the Mayans threw gourds filled with hornets at their enemies.