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Gourd Water Jug

Curated Submission
Delta, British Columbia
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
26 x 18
Materials & techniques
Gourd, rattan, twine; Basketry
A. Forres Davie
Delta Museum and Archives Society DE2006.26.22
This water jug was created from a hard shell gourd, skillfully encased in a woven rattan wicker basket. While the use of gourds to carry liquids has a tradition that extends around the world, this particular example comes from Guangdong. Many Chinese settlers in British Columbia came from this region in southern China, and this jug a fine example of Chinese immigrants using local resources and recycled imported goods in the face of restricted means. Recycling and reuse of materials were necessary practices owing to poor working conditions, low pay, and high taxes, such as the head tax that was applied to those of Chinese descent.
The wicker acted in the same manner as a cloth covering for metal canteens. By soaking the covering in water, evaporation allowed for cooling of the canteen contents – necessary when working long hours in the fields. Rattan comes from the inner fibre of any one of 600 species of palm trees in Southeast Asia and is stronger than other forms of wicker. The method of weaving is significantly different from other basketry methods common on the west coast, where a distinct warp and weft is visible.
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