The years-long mystery of what my carved gourd says (click here
for background on what the heck I’m talking about) has been solved.

Hatsue and my cousin Andy live in Japan. With everything they had to deal with after the terrible tsunami, they found time to share with me–through Peter–an astoundingly beautiful and thorough translation of my gourd. 

The first line:

Sow pumpkin (gourd) seeds, and then you’ll get pumpkins (gourds)

The second line:

Sow bean seeds, you will get beans.

The third line:

Sky net is cellular, but never leaked. A similar meaning may be something like: murder cannot be hidden. The direct meaning is there is a cellular net in the sky, but it has never leaked. People who have done wrong will be found out.

From China via Bangkok, Uschi Gaida graciously sends this lovely translation and poetic etymology as provided by John, her husband’s Chinese colleague:

These writings are a Chinese proverb and a short poem, no religion involved. The photo with a hand inside is a Chinese proverb, it actually has eight characters, the photo only shows five.

  1. This is a form of ancient writing/calligraphy, modern writing in simplified Chinese is:


The direct meaning is “plant melons, harvest melons; plant beans, harvest beans.”
2. The other photo is a Chinese short poem. I do not know who wrote it, maybe the guy who carved it. The modern simplified Chinese is:

?????? ??????

It is about the Autumn and friends, and says “the shape/form (depends on the object or the nature, here probably the object) sees Autumn in a way more natural, and the red colour makes friends in a brighter/clearer way. “

John explains further: 

In China, there are more than 2000 dialects. Sometimes neighboring cities/villages do not understand each other when speaking. Among the many dialects are Mandarin and Cantonese. Others include Sichuanize, Kejiahua, etc..

Mandarin is universal, and can be understood throughout China theoretically. Today Mandarin is spoken in Taiwan, Hongkong (sic), and in other countries, such as Singapore. The languages of surrounding Asian countries–including Japan–were developed from Chinese many years ago. Cantonese is more known because years ago Chinese people came to North America, mostly from Guandong (Canton) Province in the south, where Cantonese is spoken in daily life.

In China, you can write in Chinese characters, no matter what kind of dialect spoken, because people all understand. There is only one form of Chinese writing taught in school. Schools must teach in Mandarin. After 1997 Hongkong started teaching in Mandarin. Before that time, Mandarin was taught only selectively, and was a second speaking language.

Some dialects are diminishing – as are other languages the world over.

Different European languages evolved from the same the same root. In China, there is one language we can say.

So the gourd speaks a universal truth: you reap what you sow.  

The two poem translations are beautifully, obscurely variant. Too deep for me to figure out, but I have a feeling they’re saying the same thing.