All about the Mould for QingmingGuo

About the Tool

QingmingGuo mould is a mould used for making QingmingGuo in the Tombsweeping Day in China. This mould is part of heritage of my father’s family for more than one hundred years. My family is a large southern family which has many family rules. One of them is only women can do the cooking things. So I studied many skills about making traditional food when I was young. Traditional food is part of our culture, I can feel the charm when I was making those traditional food and using those tools that my ancestors used. But with the development of society, many of the rules, tools, food and custom are gone. For this reason, I want to make some records of this QingmingGuo mould, as part of my etmic emergence research.

I think I even don’t have a name. People always call me the mould for QingmingGuo because I was only used for making QingmingGuo, a traditional food for Qingming Festival. Actually, from the material and craftsmanship of me, I’m a lacquer or wood carving rather than a kitchenware.

It was after a torrential rain in a summer; a branch of the oldest camphor tree in the village broke off and dropped down into the pool. A carpenter living in this small village picked the branch up and made it into a series of mould of QingmingGuo. After that, the series of moulds were carved with different pattern of different meaning and sold to peoples in this village.

Think back of that, I already stay in that kitchen for more than two hundred years. In the earlier years, every April, people will gather together to make QingmingGuo. There is a Chinese tradition festival at that time called the Qingming Festival. It is a time to commemorate deceased relatives and sweep their tombs. We were carried by our owners to the playground in front of ancestral hall. At that time, I can meet my siblings, every of us have one to three moulds; different patterns are all classical and have fortune means. The pattern in me is sun and orchid, the sun represents best wishes for the weather for agriculture, and the orchid is friendship. Some other popular patterns in my siblings are bat, peony, carp, calabash or some words like fortune, bless, longevity. People put sweetened bean paste in to dough, then put the dough into our mould and press them to flat. Before that, we were greased with sesame oil. With a tap, the QingmingGuo was tapped out. The dough was made of flour, glutinous rice flour and juice of wormwood. After that, people put the QingmingGuo into bamboo food steamer and steamed them. People picked some best ones and spoiled them at the ancestral hall.

I saw the graves of this village. Year after year, people put new memorial tablets into the ancestral hall. I saw the name of the carpenter who made us; I saw the name of my first owner, and then the second, third… I can’t cry for then, but I help people make QingmingGuo for them. My handle became more and more smooth, I’m not sure is it because of the sesame oil people greased on me.

Decade of years later, most of my siblings are gone, broken or buried with their owner. It also became hard to see many people gather together to making food. Since this village is far away from town, teenagers always want to leave; less of them will come back. But until now, the faint scent of wormwood is marked on me. The village is aging, so am I.

One day, my father, the camphor in the middle of the village was identified of more than five hundred years old.  Several days later, the sons of my recent owner planted a new camphor tree beside it. Thirty years later, another one was planted by their daughters. There’s a special girl in them, who like learn every old things. It might because she has an archaeologist mom. Her mother is familiar with our old things. She is living in a city far away from this village, but she likes the life in village. Like most old people, she likes participating in every procedure of making food. I was so exciting and waiting for April.

Finally in that day, my owner held her hand and taught her how to use me to making QingmingGuo. At that time, I think I would witness history of another generation of this family.

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