LANZHOU, China - Engraved gourds are known as folkcraft in Lanzhou in Gansu Province, China, so I stepped into a small, 10-square-meter specialty shop at the Lanzhou Fu Chenghuang Miao in central Lanzhou.
A variety of paintings with landscapes, flowers and birds, and people were delicately painted in black on gourds of various shapes and sizes. The shop owner, Chen Zhian, 47, said they were, respectively, motifs of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism.
As colour is added after motifs are carved, the paintings will not fade away easily. The origin of the handicraft is old. It is believed to have already existed in the third century.
In the beginning, paintings were drawn on gourds used for drawing water. However, they gradually became handicraft and spread as famous products of Lanzhou on the Silk Road.
High-class items cost over 10,000 yuan (S$2,200) but many products are priced between 50 yuan and 200 yuan. They are suitable as handy souvenirs.