Hu Lu: Ode to the Gourds
据【韩国新华报讯】 记者/ 金相律 摄影报道; 我与曲阜师大教授扈鲁先生结识是在2009年的5月，在山东省文艺评论家协会成立大会上。记得他说到自己研究葫芦文化，我也没太留心，葫芦还有啥研究头呢？后来，到曲阜师大采访，扈鲁把我引导到他的葫芦世界里，他收藏的葫芦，琳琅满目，让我大开眼界。一直想写他，但总被俗务缠住。
I met with Professor Hu Lu from Qufu Normal University in May 2009, at the founding meeting of Shandong Literature and Art Critics Association. He once mentioned his study on gourd culture, but I didn't pay much attention to it. What study could be made about a gourd? Later, when I went to Qufu Normal University for an interview, Mr. Hu guided me into his gourd world. His rich collection of the gourds broadened my views. I have been thinking about writing something about him, but couldn't make it because of all the businesses.
Recently, I read that the nine-volume The Gourd Culture Series was published and issued by Zhonghua Book Company, and was regarded as "the masterpiece filling the gap in the academic research of gourd culture at home and abroad". After four years of painstaking efforts, chief editor Hu Lu and more than 100 scholars and experts at home and abroad presented this brilliant masterpiece to the readers.
I have not been in touch with Mr. Hu for many years. In these years, he devoted himself to such a huge project. He is a true leader in the field of gourd culture research. I sincerely admire the great feats of my fellow brother and feel embarrassed about my laziness.
It’s not easy to do something innovative with solid steps and persistence. I immediately contacted Hu and asked for details about the compiling of The Gourd Culture Series. The cultural research project The Gourd Culture Series (the first series) was planned and designed by the Chinese Folklore Society of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in 2015. At the beginning of 2016, the compilation of the nine volumes in the first series focusing on domestic gourd culture research was initiated, and now the first series has been published. The second series has been fully launched, including volumes of history research, folklore research, story research, education research and industry research, etc.
According to Hu Lu, based on the vast number of Chinese classics, this series thoroughly and systematically excavates and sorts out the history and culture of gourd in planting, food, medicine, utensils, craft, related names, folk customs, legends and other aspects. Through literature volume, object volume, image volume, etc., this series systematically demonstrates the rich cultural connotation of traditional gourd in Chinese literature, painting, music, arts and crafts, as well as the superb skill of ancient craftsmen.
The Gourd Culture Series records in detail the development of gourd culture in Lancang Lahu Autonomous County, Huludao in Liaoning and Dongchangfu in Shandong. Combining the gourd festival, grand gourd view garden, gourd pyrography, gourd needle carving, gourd folk custom tourism village, gourd feast and other forms of gourd culture inheritance and development cases, the series comprehensively analyzes the development of gourd studios, gourd artisans, gourd research, gourd collection, gourd boutique in various places, deeply discusses the path of gourd culture melting into the contemporary economy and life. From a micro perspective, gourds are daily necessities, the source of economic wealth and the form of beliefs; from a macro perspective, the gourds are shaped as local cultural landmarks and promotion brands, and some become the new way for the government's economic industry and cultural cards for foreign exchanges.
Consultant of The Gourd Culture Series and vice president of the Chinese Folklore Society, Professor Liu Delong said: “The publication of the nine-volume The Gourd Culture Series by Mr. Hu is a groundbreaking and significant achievement in the study of Chinese folklore, as well as a pride of the folklore community! Mr. Hu is obsessed with gourd and devoted himself to the gourd, from painting the beauty of gourd with brush, to writing the biography of gourd with words. It can be said that Mr. Hu has devoted all his efforts to the gourd. As a colleague of folklore research, I am very familiar with Hu, and I have been to his studio many times to exchange ideas. He has turned the original simple gourd painting studio to the gourd museum filled with thousands of collections, and then he led more than 100 experts and scholars at home and abroad to compile the series of books. Every time I communicated with him, I was amazed not only at his persistence and efforts but at his perseverance to turn his dream into reality. The Gourd Culture Series covers different disciplines and fields, and it is a comprehensive review of national folk gourd culture. It is also enrichment and extension of Chinese excellent traditional culture with great significance and value. I believe that the meaning and value of this series will become more dazzling and brilliant with time.”
Consultant of The Gourd Culture Series, Professor Zhang Congjun from Shandong Institute of Arts and Crafts said: "For at least eight thousand years, people have cultivated gourds, eaten gourds, depicted gourds, sculpted gourds, made stories with gourds, and picked gourd as the cover. However, few people have written biographies and compiled nine volumes ofThe Gourd Culture Series as Mr. Hu has done. He took the lead and filled this gap. He paints gourds and is obsessed with them. He spares no effort and perseverance to sing for the gourds. This is the respect for the gourd and for nature. Lives were naturally born and things are used by us, but we should use them with restrictions, since we cannot live without love and affection, nor without gratitude. Living in harmony with nature embodies the unity of heaven and man in ancient times. ”
Hu Lu, whose real name is Hu Qingxue, was born at the foot of the “gourd cliff” of the Yimeng mountainous area known as the birthplace of The Canzonet of Yimeng Mountain, a folk song in Shandong province. The gourd was called hulu (扈鲁), homophone of gourd in ancient times, so he made 扈鲁 (Hu Lu in pronunciation) as his pseudonym to imply that he was born in Shandong (commonly known as Lu in short) with the surname Hu. Hu Lu is a professor and MA supervisor in Qufu Normal University, director of China Folklore Society, president of Gourd Painting Studio, founder of the modern “gourd painting school”, and a famous scholar of gourd culture study. He has published more 100 professional research papers and paintings in core academic journals such as Literature and Art Studies, Art Observation, National Painters and Folklore Studies, two monographs Painting Language of Hu Lu and Freehand Gourd , and one CD of Ni Dance Voices• The Best Gourd. He has undertaken and completed four key social science projects in Shandong Province, such as "Gourd themed flower-and-bird painting and its folk culture significance", "Research on the development of gourd folklore and gourd culture industry", "Gourd Culture Research of Lahu Nationality", and so on. The research results won three awards of outstanding achievements in social sciences of Shandong Province.
Ancient politician Zeng Guofan once remarked that anything that had been made in a short period of time will never count too much; anything that can be easily seen through at a glance must be unworthy of exploring. The first volume of The Gourd Culture Series was completed in four years. In fact, for Hu Lu, it is not only four years, but four decades, or even longer. This is the crystallization of his obsession with and respect for gourds.
(Pang Chunjie: Senior reporter of the Dazhong Daily, member of the Chinese Writers Association)