Popular Science Monthly/Volume 33/July 1888/Gourds and Bottles



STROLLING, this afternoon, down the street El-Akhdar, where silent Arab women, muffled up to the eyes, gliding noiselessly past, disappeared at my approach, to right and left, down darkling doorways in the narrow alley, I chanced to pass the Moorish shop of my friend the Hadji Omar-ben-Marabet, who, removing his pipe gravely from his mouth for a moment, beckoned me in with his hand to the court-yard of his house to bespeak my favorable inspection of his new stock of rustic, hand-made Kabyle pottery. I followed him through the corridor to the open oust, or central hall, and proceeded to look over his latest importations. The Hadji's wares were indeed pretty and curious enough, manufactured in quaint traditional shapes from the coarse yellow clay of the country by the deft-fingered women of the Djurjura Mountains. Two among them took my fancy especially. One was a flattened circular vase or bottle, with a short neck, and two handles at the side, covered with a pretty running arabesque pattern of the kind so common on the Morocco earthen-ware. The other was a quaint little red gourd-shaped vessel, with two bulges, constricted in the middle, exactly like the ordinary shepherd's gourd that one sees so often hanging from a countryman's girdle on the Roman Campagna or the Provençal hill-sides. After the usual chaffering and higgling of the market, conducted on both sides with unabated ardor for several minutes, my good friend Hadji Omar consented at last to accept for the pair—from me only, he called Allah to witness, as a particular customer—one third of the price he had at first demanded; and I walked off in triumph, at the end of our debate, with my two jars slung proudly in my hand, and my purse lighter by probably not much more than double the real value of my two little purchases. Now, at the wine-shop next door, where a Barbary Jew, in dark-blue turban, jacket, and sash, administers drink, in spite of the Prophet's veto, to thirsty humanity, all and sundry, be it Christian or Moslem, there hung at the lintel a whole string of gourds—the natural fruit, look you, not any spurious fictile imitation—which interested me strangely, because they happened to belong to two separate varieties, the originals and models, as chance would have it, of my two curious Kabyle vases. Struck by the resemblance, I bought one of each, to complete my little illustrative museum of native pottery; and I have them now set up in the horseshoe arch by the window before my eyes as I write, a perpetual reminder of the true origin of all the bottles known either to barbarous or civilized people. For even that familiar brown glass receptacle out of which we pour Bass's beer at our modern dinner-tables, derives its shape ultimately from the Mediterranean gourd; and every other form of bottle in the known world is equally based, in the last resort, upon some member or other of the gourd family.

I don't believe, indeed, the importance of gourds, as a class, in the history of civilization has ever yet been properly recognized by the annalists of culture. On them, it would seem, with their close congeners the tropical calabashes, the entire art and mystery of pottery ultimately depend. It is possible to trace back almost every vase or other fictile vessel manufactured to-day at Burslem or at Vallauris to this most primitive and simple of all possible water-jars. It behooves us, therefore, in an epoch of pothunters, to know something of the nature of this earliest pot, as a moment in the evolution of our existing civilization. A plant on which so ancient and universal an art at last bases itself may well claim some twenty minutes of our scanty leisure in this æsthetic, refined, and pottery-worshiping century.

The gourd, then, to begin at the beginning, is of course a cucumber by family, belonging to the same great group of rapidly growing and large-leaved climbers as the melon, the pumpkin, and the vegetable marrow. All these plants are mere annuals, and they are remarkable among their class for the stature they attain in a single year, for the size of their leaves, and for the bigness of the fruit, in comparison with the short time it takes in growing. Only the sunflower and Indian corn can equal them at all in this last respect. Vegetative energy is the strong point of the gourds. They have a power of growth and a vigor of constitution nowhere surpassed among yearling plants. It was not without reason in the nature of things that the creeper which grew up in a night and overshadowed Jonah should have been figured by the Hebrew allegory as a gourd. No other plant grows so fast, or produces in so short a space of time so luxuriant a canopy of shady foliage.

The true gourds, in fact, have adapted themselves entirely to the climbing habit. This is in itself a half-parasitic mode of existence to which many plants have taken as a bid for life, because it saves them all the trouble and expense of producing a stout and woody stem for their own support. The way the gourds climb is by means of spiral, curled tendrils, which are in reality small abortive stipules or leaf-appendages, specialized for the work of clinging to the external object, be it bough or stem of some other plant, over which the beautiful parasite rapidly spreads itself. The tendrils push themselves out on every side, revolving as they go, till they reach some slender twig or leaf-stalk to which they can attach, themselves. It is curious and interesting to watch them as they grow, and to see how closely their movements simulate intelligent action. The little curled whorls go feeling about on every side for a suitable foothold, groping blindly, as it were, in search of a support, and revolving slowly in wide-sweeping curves, until at last they happen to lay hold with their growing end of a proper object. Once found, they seem to seize it eagerly with their little fingers (for in the gourd the tendrils are branched, not simple), and to wrap it round at once many times over in their tight embrace. It is wonderful how far they will go up out of their way in their groping quest of a proper foothold, and how, when at length they stumble upon it, they will look for all the world as if they had known beforehand exactly when and where to search for it. These actions come far closer to intelligence than most people imagine; they are deliberately performed in responsive answer to external stimuli, and only take place when the right conditions combine to excite them.

Your young gourd, then, once it grows from the seed, begins from the very first to look about for a neighboring bush up which it may climb to reach the sun and air that it could never get at on the ground beneath, or approach by its own unaided efforts. In this respect it is one of the most advanced and highly developed members of its own family. Its humbler ally, the squirting cucumber of the Mediterranean shores (a quaint little creature about which I shall have more to say hereafter), remains to this day a mere lowly trailer, unprovided with tendrils or other means of climbing, and therefore necessarily confined to open, waste places, where alone it can hope to procure its fair share of air and sunlight. In the true cucumber, on the other hand, and the bryony of our English hedges and waysides, there are climbing tendrils, but they are simple and unbranched. In the gourd itself, however, a plant of Indian origin, accustomed to the rough, wild scrub of the tropics, the tendrils are forked, so as to aid the plant in climbing rapidly over the thick and tangled vegetation of its native jungles. The ample leaves then spread themselves out broadly in the full sunshine, mantling their unwilling host with their luscious green, and choking it slowly out by shutting off from its foliage all the life-giving rays and carbon laden air.

All annuals flower as soon as they have laid by sufficient material for producing their blossoms. The flowers of the gourds, however, like those of their allies the melons and cucumbers, present one very curious peculiarity. In all these plants, the sexes are distinct; and, in most of them, the male and female flowers are borne on totally different plants. The reason for this arrangement is no doubt to be found in the common necessity for cross-fertilization. And this is how the gourd and cucumber have solved that great crux of plant organization:

The male flowers are larger than the female, and consist simply of a funnel-shaped corolla, inclosing a column of yellow stamens. They have no fruit or ovary in the center, nor even the abortive rudiment of such an organ. The female flowers, on the other hand, have no stamens, but the corolla caps a small round berry, the parent or embryo of the future fruit. Its center gives rise to a slender style, forked and feathered at the tip, which is the sensitive surface of the unswollen ovary. Now, when the bee or other fertilizing insect visits a male flower, he dusts himself all over (unconsciously, of course) with the fertilizing pollen. If, on flying away, he next visits another male blossom on the same plant, he only collects still more pollen. But if he happens to flit off to a female flower, he brushes off some of the pollen, as he passes, on to the feathery, sensitive surface protruded by the plant right in his path, on purpose to meet him. In this way, each female blossom makes perfectly certain of due fertilization from a separate organism; and such cross-fertilization, as Darwin has shown, produces in the long run the most fertile seeds, and the strongest, heartiest, and most vigorous seedlings.

Originally, there can be little doubt, the flowers of the gourd family were all hermaphrodite, as those of many among their less developed relations still remain to the present day. But, once upon a time, certain progressive gourds happened accidentally to acquire the habit of producing more or less abortive stamens on certain blossoms; and as these gourds would therefore almost necessarily insure cross-fertilization, and so produce in the long run the finest seedlings, the habit once accidentally set up would be carefully fostered by natural selection, till it grew at last into a confirmed practice of the entire race. All through nature, indeed, we find that the scrubbiest, weediest, and shabbiest species still retain the primitive habit of self-fertilization or in-and-in breeding; but that all the chief places in the hierarchy of life are filled by species which have acquired in one way or another the salutary practice of cross-fertilization, and which thus encourage to the utmost of their power the frequent introduction of fresh blood. The gourds, as a very dominant race, have naturally conformed to the general practice of higher types in this respect; and gardeners find, when they exclude insects from their hot-houses and cucumber-frames, that they have to come to the aid of Nature by artificial means, and to fertilize the blossoms with a camel's hair pencil.

The flowers of the melon, the cucumber, and the vegetable marrow are bright yellow and almost, if not quite, scentless. Those of the true gourd, on the other hand, with which we are here chiefly concerned, are white and perfumed. Now, nothing in nature is without a reason; and this change of color in the gourd kind from the ordinary normal hue of its race at large is not without a sufficient purpose either. I don't know whether most people have ever noticed that hell-shaped or tubular white flowers are almost always heavily scented. Examples familiar to everybody occur in the jasmine, the stephanotis, the gardenia, the tuberose, and the large white tobacco so much cultivated of late in garden borders. It often happens, indeed, that a plant possesses two allied varieties, one of them blue, pink, or yellow, and scentless, while the other is white and deeply perfumed. In these cases, the first kind is a day-flowering plant, while the second opens and spreads abroad its scent in the dusk of evening. One well-known instance exists in England: the red campion or day-flowering lychnis is pink, scentless, and strictly diurnal; while its ally, the white campion, is beautifully perfumed, and opens its flowers at the sunset only. The reason is that the one species is fertilized by day-flying bees or butterflies, and the other by crepuscular or night-flying moths. Now, in the gray dusk no color can so readily be distinguished as pure white; and lest this peculiarity alone should prove insufficient to attract moths to the patch of light among the dark foliage, the added attraction of perfume is thrown in gratis by moth-fertilized plants. Such night-flowering white blossoms never possess the spots or lines or colored marks on the petals, which serve as honey-guides in other plants to lead the bees straight to the laden nectary. In the twilight, variegation or dappling of that sort would be wholly useless.

The blossoms of the gourds, then, are fertilized by moths, attracted to the plant at nightfall by the white corolla and the rich, heavy perfume of the bell-shaped flowers. This perfume is one of a type much affected by aesthetic moths, and not unpleasant to ourselves in the open air, but too cloying for a room, as is the case also with the kindred scent of stephanotis and tuberose. As soon as the flowers have been all fertilized, the male blossoms wither away to nothing; but the small berry underneath the female ones begins to swell out into a big, round fruit with surprising rapidity. Great heat and much sunshine are of course needed in order to produce this startling result with an annual plant; and hence the gourd family consists mostly of luxuriant tropical or subtropical species. Their center of origin would seem to lie in India, where species and individuals are still most numerous. Thence the gourds have spread, with gradual modifications to suit climatic changes, to all the hotter climates of the Old and New Worlds. Some of them have reached as far as Peru and the Cape of Good Hope. But very few of them have spread far northward, because a northern climate is ill-adapted for such large and rapidly growing tropical plants. The best known North American example, in the north and east at least, is the pretty little "prickly cucumber," so commonly used in New England and the Middle States as a climbing plant for arbors and trellis-work. A single species alone reaches England, the familiar bryony; and, in this case, the necessary modifications and dwarfing of parts to meet the circumstances of a cold climate are at once apparent. The plant has been forced to become a perennial, and store by nutriment for coming years in its thick and poisonous roots; for the short and treacherous English summer would not suffice for it to bring its fruit to maturity in the first season. The berry has also been fined down from its tropical dimensions to about the size of a haricot-bean, in accordance with the needs of English fruit eating birds, for a reason which we shall fully examine a little later. If one compares these two tiny northern gourds with the great tropical calabashes, often six feet long and eighteen inches round, one will see at once the amount of degradation undergone by the gourd kind on its northward progress, in adaptation to the needs of a chillier climate.

All the gourd-like fruits are the same in ground-plan, familiar to everybody in cross-section in the case of the unripe cucumber as it appears at the dinner-table. There are always the same three or five rows of flattened seeds, immersed in soft pulp, and surrounded by the fruit with its harder skin, often brilliantly colored with red or yellow. But infinite variations of shape and size are permitted in every direction upon this single original central plan. Nature runs riot in modifications of detail. In order to understand them, we must remember that the gourds, as a family, are berry-bearing plants, dependent in most cases for the dispersion of their seeds on the friendly offices of birds or animals. It is to meet the varying views and tastes of these their animate friends and allies that the different hues, coverings, and pulps of the diverse sorts have all been adopted.

We shall see this better if we look at the one early member of the gourd family which does not seek to attract animals to devour its fruit—the squirting cucumber—and observe the many conspicuous points in which it broadly differs from all its congeners. The squirting cucumber is a scrubby Mediterranean trailer, known to all the world at Nice and Cannes, bearing a long, hairy, and almost prickly fruit, which remains green even when ripe, and is bitter, fetid, and sickening to the senses in all stages. It derives its common name from its curious habit of breaking off short whenever touched, and jumping away from the parent stem, as if alive, while at the same time it squirts out all its seeds, with the surrounding pulp, into its aggressor's face, through the opening left by the broken stem. The squirting cucumber, in short. if I may venture so to describe it, is the skunk among vegetables. Its object in life, its sole aim and desire, is to deter animals from eating its fruit and seeds; and therefore it makes itself as unpleasant and as inconspicuous as it possibly can. It is green, so that animals may not readily detect its presence among its leaves; it is spine-clad, so that they may not attack it with their tender noses; it is nasty to the taste and disagreeable to the smell, so that they may avoid its neighborhood when once they have learned to know its personal peculiarities. If a goat or a donkey, wandering among the scrub, chances to touch the long, trailing branches, the cucumber squirts out its juice in his eyes, and at the same time sows its seeds all round on a spot where no hostile creature is likely to interfere with them. We have here in a very extreme form a specimen of that rare type of succulent fruit which does not lay itself out at all to attract the attention of friendly animals, but, on the contrary, endeavors energetically to repel them.

The mass of the gourd-kind, however, pursue the exactly opposite tactics. They have learned by experience to imitate rather a policy of conciliation, and to turn the birds, quadrupeds, and fruit-eating animals generally in their environment from deadly foes into friendly disseminators. For this purpose, their fruits, when ripe and fit for seeding, become red, yellow, pink, or orange, though they only assume these brilliant hues at the exact moment when the seeds are ready to be severed from the parent stem and dispersed for germination. Till that time, they remain green and sour, or at least tasteless. The seeds in these cases are surrounded by a soft, sweet* pulp, especially noticeable in the melon and the watermelon; and this pulp the plant gives in, so to speak, as an inducement to animals to disseminate its seeds over the surrounding country. It has learned organically the value of rotation of crops. It desires fresh soil in which to expand. The actual seeds themselves, however, are not sweet; they are inclosed in a hard and somewhat horny or leathery shell; and they are seldom eaten and still seldomer digested by birds or animals, owing to their tough and slippery surfaces. We have here, then, the very same inducements of food, sweetness, perfume, and color expended by the plant upon its fruit for the sake of its seeds that we saw before expended upon the flower for the sake of obtaining cross-fertilization by the aid of insects.

At the same time, it is interesting to note that almost all the gourd family possess in some part or other of their economy certain bitter, nauseating, medicinal principles, expressly intended to deter animals from meddling with or eating them. But these bitter principles are variously distributed in the leaves, stems, stock, or fruit, according to the special type of dangers to which the particular plant is specially exposed. The red berries of our English bryony are eaten by birds, who aid, of course, in disseminating the seeds; but the big and swollen root, known to French herbalists as the navet du diable, in which the plant stores all its accumulated material for next year's growth, is strenuously protected from the attacks of rabbits, pigs, and other grubbing animals by an intensely bitter and poisonous principle which chemists call bryonine. Colocynth, again—the amorous colocynth—is a plant closely allied to the melon and cucumber; but in this case the intensely bitter and poisonous essence (the "uncompounded pills" of the poet) is diffused in the fruit itself, which, like that of the squirting cucumber, desires to repel rather than to entice the attentions of animals. In the edible cucumber, once more, which prefers to be eaten, the bitter principle is collected at the stalk-end of the unripe fruit, as well as generally in the outer rind, thus serving to prevent attacks in the early stages of growth, or unauthorized grubbing into the soft pulp by useless insects. I suppose I need hardly remind even the non-agricultural mind in these days of villa-gardening that the ripe cucumber is bright yellow, smooth, and faintly sweetish; on our tables it always appears in its unripe stage, when it is green, hard, and covered externally with rough excrescences, intended to repel the attacks of enemies. In the early gherkin state it is even prickly.

The fruit of the actual bottle-gourd itself is intermediate in size between the great tropical calabash and the little bryony berries of our northern hedge-rows. Its one noteworthy peculiarity lies in its hard, coriaceous, and shining rind, far more woody in character than even that of its near allies the pumpkins and the calabashes. This peculiarity, again, is not without a meaning in the history of the race: it points back with no uncertain finger (why should gourds be denied fingers?) to the subtropical origin of the gourd species. For the bottle-gourd itself, to employ the language most frequently applied to our Aryan brother, is a native of India, though it has long been cultivated for the sake of its fruits round the whole Mediterranean. Now, it is a noticeable fact in the philosophy of fruits that most fruits of northern climates, like the strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, and currant, can be picked off the bush, tree, or vine, and popped at once into the mouth without any preparation; but almost all tropical fruits, like the orange, pineapple, mango, and banana, require a plate with a knife and fork to eat them with; in other words, they can only be eaten after we have stripped off a hard or nauseous rind.

Why this difference? Well, it has reference clearly to the kind of animals by which the seeds of each are oftenest disseminated in the native condition. Northern fruits, in short, are mainly eaten by small birds, which swallow them whole, but never digest the hard, knobby seeds, so conspicuous in the blackberry, the currant, and the grape. Southern fruits, on the contrary, are mainly eaten by parrots, monkeys, and other large fruit feeders, for whose attraction the plants specially lay themselves out. Hence the southern types desire to keep off unauthorized small intruders, which would merely pick holes in their pulp without doing any real good to the plant, as wasps do with our northern peaches. For this purpose, natural selection has favored in their case the development of various abstruse devices for keeping off the smaller birds and animals. Sometimes, as with the orange, lemon, and citron, the outer rind is bitter and nasty; sometimes, as with the cashew, it is violently pungent, acrid, and irritating; sometimes, as with the pomegranate, it is merely hard, stiff', and leathery. But, in all instances alike, it is meant to repel by every means in the plant's power the small intruder. Monkeys and parrots, however, the friends of the species, do not mind these slight outer defenses; they strip them off easily with hand or beak, and reach the sweet pulp within, duly intended by the grateful tree for their edification. On the other hand, the actual seed itself in tropical fruits is always thoroughly well protected against their teeth or bills, either by a very hard stone, as in the olive, date, and mango, or by intense bitterness, as in the orange and lemon.

It is to this specially defended tropical type of fruits that the true bottle-gourd essentially belongs. Our little English bryony has a mere northern bird-berry, round, and red, and soft, and almost rindless; it has adapted itself in this matter to the small ways of robins and finches. But the gourd has a hard and forbidding rind; it fastens itself up in a firm covering; it lays itself out with all its soul for the larger fruit-eaters of tropical forests. Not, indeed, that in its raw ripe state the gourd is by any means so dry and hard as in the arid form which we see in southern wine-shops. The method of preparing gourds for use as bottles is, indeed, a sufficiently lengthy one. You pick your fruit and hang it up to dry, not in the sun, but under the shade of the roof, for a whole year before it is fit for boring. As soon as it has hardened evenly all over, you cut a round hole at the stalk-end (at least in the common double-bulging form employed as a flask by southern shepherds) and rattle out the dry seeds and pulp, which easily come out of themselves through the opening. The remaining husk is hard enough and thick enough to bear carving. I have several gourds in my little collection thus carved in deep relief with Moorish patterns, including one which bears on its face, four times repeated, a text from the Koran.

Gourds, calabashes, and the shells of cocoanuts, together with human skulls and the horns of cattle, sheep, and antelopes, seem to have formed the earliest natural objects employed as vessels by primitive humanity. But of all these the gourd, by its singular variety of shape, best lent itself to the greatest and most varied uses. Besides the common double-bulging form, constricted in the middle, with the little bulb above and the big one below, so frequent as a water-bottle, you can get gourds in an immense number of other types, globular, compressed, bowl-like, or flask shaped. A Corsican model, which lies before me this moment as I write, has a flattened circular form from back to front, the back being the side next the stalk, and the front the side where the corolla has fallen off, leaving a little umbilicus or knob to mark its place in the very center. This form is ingeniously turned by the Corsicans into a very neat sort of flask or bottle for the girdle by cutting holes in the narrow side and fastening two handles for suspension at a graceful point half-way between the mouth and the middle line of the circle. The pretty vessel thus obtained is the model on which thousands of exquisite vases have long been turned out in ancient Etruria and at modern Vallauris.

The commonest shape of all, however, is the Syrian gourd with a round bulb, ending toward the stalk in a long neck, and capable, when filled with wine or water, of standing securely on its own basis by means of the slight depression at the umbilicus. This is, indeed, the original parent from which almost all bottles, carafes, and decanters, all the world over, have ultimately descended. The terra-cotta forms used as water-bottles, with a round bulb and long neck, most closely resemble their original to the present day, as the Japanese vases of two or three bulbs, successively constricted and growing larger from top to bottom, most closely resemble the double-bulging variety.

The reason why gourds are so manifold in shape is twofold. It is partly because they are a naturally plastic species, constantly giving rise to various divergent forms, like their neighbors the cucumbers; which divergent forms have, of course, been seized upon and still further developed for his own use by gourd-using man. But it is partly, also, because gourds, while growing, can be made to assume almost any desired shape or curve by tying string or wire round their rind. Primitive man early discovered this simple method of manufacture. I have seen gourds which in this manner have been twisted into the semblance of powder horns or wallets, and others which have been induced to ring themselves round half a dozen times over till they look almost like beads on a necklace.

Early man, no doubt, used his gourd as a gourd alone. But as time went on he began at last, apparently, to employ it as a model for pottery also. In all probability his earliest lessons in the fictile art were purely accidental. It is a common trick with savages to put water to warm on the camp-fire in a calabash or gourd with wet clay smeared over the bottom to keep it from burning. Wherever the clay thus employed was fine enough to form a mold and bake hard in shape, it would cling to the gourd, and be used time and again in the same way without renewal, till at last it came to be regarded almost as a component part of the compound vessel. Traces of this stage in the evolution of pottery still exist in various outlying corners of the world. Savages have been noted who smear their dishes with clay; and bowls may be found in various museums which still contain more or less intact the relics of the natural object on which they were modeled. In one case the thing imbedded in the clay bowl is a human skull, presumably an enemy's.

In most cases, however, the inner gourd or calabash, in proportion as it was well coated up to the very top with a good protective layer of clay, would tend to get burned out by the heat of the fire in the course of time; until at last the idea would arise that the natural form was nothing more than a mere mold or model, and that the earthenware dish which grew up around it was the substantive vessel. As soon as this stage of pot-making was arrived at, the process of firing would become deliberate, instead of accidental, and the vessel would only be considered complete as soon as it had been subjected to a great heat which would effectually burn out the gourd or calabash imbedded in the center. But the close similarity of early fictile forms all the world over, and their obvious likeness to the same simple, natural types, combine to show us that the art of pottery had everywhere the same easy origin, and that it was everywhere based on the same primitive unmanufactured vessels.

Three main forms of pottery, and later of glass-ware, may be safely held to take their origin from the bottle-gourd alone. The first is the double or treble-bulbed vase, so common a type in Japanese and Oriental pottery. This is the most distinctively gourd-like of all, and it has given rise indirectly to endless variations. The second is the flat, circular vase with two lateral handles—the diota—always showing in early specimens its gourd origin by the nature of its ornamentation, which radiates (as is well exhibited by some of my Morocco specimens) from the umbilicus or calyx-scar in the center of the fruit. The third is the clay water-bottle or carafe, with round bulb below and tall neck above, which gives rise in turn to the vast majority of modern vases, vessels, and bottles. Even the common beer-bottle, with the "kink" or "kirck" at the bottom, affiliates itself ultimately upon this last-named form, being derived in the last resort from those long-necked gourds which could stand firmly on their own basis, owing to a slight re-entrant depression about the umbilicus. The bowl or basin, on the other hand, owes its shape rather to the gourd or calabash cut in two transversely, and used as an open receptacle for liquids and powders. Of such bowls I have one or two excellent savage specimens. To this type may at last be traced, I believe, the tea-cup, the coffee-cup, the mug, and perhaps also the tumbler.

I may add that, in simple and early types of pottery, the ornamentation is always based on the natural forms suggested by the first or other primitive model. The decorations were first copied, I believe, from the ornamentation carved or worked on the natural form, except where they arose from the marks of thongs or other suspenders used in the firing. Now, in the gourd we have, so to speak, three natural elements of ornamentation to which all decorative adjuncts, if any, must necessarily adapt themselves: First, there is the stalk cut off to form the mouth in my first and third types, but retained as a central scar or knob, the main focus of the whole, in the second or diotic form so common in Corsica; secondly, there is what I have ventured here to call the umbilicus—the mark left by the faded calyx and corolla in the center of the fruit, retained as a central point of the vessel in all three forms; and, thirdly, there are the lines in the grain of the gourd which radiate like meridians from either pole, running from the stem-scar right round the equator to the umbilicus. Whoever tries to decorate a real gourd, either by carving or painting, will find himself practically compelled to fall in with the natural lines thus inevitably laid down for him; he must obey the laws of his prime material. All gourds actually decorated, however rudely, in simple and naïve societies are so adorned. Hence, in the first and third forms, the decoration runs up and down the sides of the bottle, or in transverse bars and longitudinal lines; while in the second or flat, circular vase type it runs always in concentric rings round a point in the middle.

Now, this pretty Kabyle ware, which formed the original text for my present sermon, is pottery of a very antique and naive type—the last relic, in fact, of ancient Phoenician art. The Phoenicians brought these ideas with them to Carthage, and the Crathaginians diffused them among the aboriginal mountaineers of the Atlas range, whose lineal descendants are the Kabyles of the Djurjura in our own day. That simple ware, with its yellow groundwork and its dichromatic ornamentation in russet-brown and black (the one ochre, the other peroxide of manganese), has been manufactured ever since in the uplands of the Atlas by the Moslemized grandsons of the Christianized Mauritanians. In tone and color it recalls somewhat the earliest Greek and Etruscan vases: but the law of Islam, of course, prevents the introduction of human or animal figures, so the ornamentation now consists entirely of geometrical and arabesque designs, accommodated to the necessary natural lines of their gourd originals. Each village has its own distinctive patterns. I have a small collection of native Kabyle and Morocco pottery, and in every piece without exception one can see at once the particular sort of gourd—double, single, or flat-faced—on which each individual vase must be finally affiliated. And, when once one has learned to know and recognize these central types, the character of the ornamentation on more advanced keramic products of other nations often enables one to guess correctly from what original natural form the particular piece in question is ultimately descended. I believe it would be possible so to arrange all the keramic products in a great museum, along a series of divergent radial lines from certain fixed centers, that the common origin of all from each special sort of gourd or calabash would become immediately obvious to the most casual observer.