The family calabash
In 1924 P's father decided to upsticks, jump on a ship and go to South America - Peru to be precise. He'd had the travel bug before, tried to board a ship bound for Australia, but his father had hauled him off the boat at Tillbury as he was still a minor. This time, however, turned twenty-one and now the master of his own destiny, he applied for a job with Lobitos, an oil company in Peru, and off he went. We're a bit hazy about the journey, knowing only that the route took him through the Panama canal, but though he would have been travelling in relative style, we can assume it can't have been easy at sea for weeks on end.
In 2004, Felix, his grandson, applied to several companies offering gap year placements in Peru. Felix worked for six months in a bingo hall and staged a selling exhibition of his digital art to help fund his dream trip. When the time came for him to go, it turned out that his placement would be helping in an orphanage and living with a Peruvian host family.
Les (P's father) had died ten years previously and no thoughts of parallel paths had occurred to us. So we were stunned when we learnt that Felix was placed in Piura, a small town a few miles from the equator - the very same town where his grandfather had lived eighty years before. Incredible! Who says there's no grand order in the universe?
Les lived in Piura for six years, before returning to the UK, but what I'm getting round to is showing you something he brought back, which we all cherish and wonder about from time to time...
...a calabash gourd, wonderfully carved with people who look as though they're dressed in Peruvian Sunday best, playing bugles and harps, canoodling, dancing, there's a whole world in there. A tree of life with monkeys, birds, alpacas, llamas, flags, flora and fauna, as well as many fabulous decorative freizes and repeating patterns - a veritable feast of inspiration!
|Close-up of zigzag pattern where lid joins rest of gourd|
|...and here's the bottom of the gourd with the underside of the lid.|
|Close-up of the dancers|
|The bugle player|
|Top of the tree of life with birds|
|Couple at bottom of the tree of life with different bird|
|Monkeys on the tree of life|
|Men with monkey|
|Male dancers with the harpist beneath them|
|Various friezes around lid|
I'd love to hear your stories about objects in your family and if you know anything more about the provenance of our gorgeous calabash, please let us know.