Looking at the detailed sculptures in the photo above, You’d be tempted to think they are made of wax, but believe it or not, they’re actually gourds! Enterprising Chinese farmers are able to grow these veggies into any shape they want. The most popular one is Chairman Mao, but there are many others as well – Buddha, Jesus, Santa Claus, babies, old men, monks, dragons, and pretty much anything else that attracts people’s attention.
You might think there’s some complex bioengineering or agricultural science going on behind these gourd-sculptures, but in reality, they’re just grown in simple plastic molds. It all started when a man named Xie Lyu Zhi visited the Thousand Year Temple in Sichuan Province. He claims that during the visit, a Buddhist monk told him about a dream he had about a gourd shaped like a deity.
So Xie decided to make one when he got back home. He invented the plastic mold required to create it and when he was successful, he made more in various shapes. These molds are now available on the market for farmers to use to create gourd-sculptures of their own.
In China, these special gourds have come to be associated with good luck and money. They are also believed to enhance observation skills in children. They’re all grown without the use of pesticides, so they don’t last very long. And it’s not just gourds, some farmers have tried the molds on pears as well, with excellent results!