|Our host in the small workshop was machining neck rings for bottle gourds. At the time he was machining a ring from a very dense dark hard wood.
I was watching as he worked but at the same time I did not really appreciate what it was he was doing. The conversation moved from hawking past and present to general chit chat when out of the blue I was asked if I liked cricket.
I was a bit taken aback at first by this question, more because if asked about sport it was generally about soccer / football. I also was a little surprised to be asked about cricket by a China man.
I felt as though I was letting my side down a bit when I admitted that cricket was not that high in my sporting interests. Only to be informed that I was being asked about cricket insects.
I was then shown in detail and told about the Chinese love of crickets, and not to eat them, although I am sure they do, but as highly prized pets.
The bottle gourds in the picture are grown in a mould that is carved with the pattern you see. As the fruit grows it expands and pushes itself into every shape of the mould. It is then hollowed out, fitted with exotic neck ring and a sound grill, and stands upright in a special made stand.
Inside lives a quite large and prized cricket where he is fed and looked after in a manner that a cricket is happy with. In return he sings as only a cricket can.