Once a fruit, a relation of the humble marrow this gourd had been transformed into a storytelling artefact by an artisan in Northern Peru. The care and time that went into its making belies the price he received selling it on a street market.

The gourd has been slowly air dried until the pips inside rattle like a maraca. Then the cartoon design and captions were etched into its hardened flesh leaving an indent which was filled with a mixture of soot and gum to give strong black lines and backgrounds. Then the gourd is varnished to protect the design for longevity.

See if you can fathom out ‘the story of Juana’, or read the Portuguese captions. Just get ready to hold back the tears because this Peruvian saga of life and death doesn’t have a happy ending. Click this link https://youtube.com/shorts/ZWA7AoZ0zG0 to a YouTube Short of curator Dez giving a quick outline of the tale.

This is one of a group of storytelling artefacts acquired for the museum by storyteller Helen East on a busy tour of South America in 2006.

This kind of rotatable artefact is ideal for telling ‘circular stories’ or ‘there and back tales’. Click below to visit a page where you’ll find versions of similar artefacts you can make yourself at home or in the classroom.

The story gourd is now with other South American artefacts at the Grosvenor Park Academy mini Storytelling museum in Chester.