A Creative Way to Help Support a Family

WIA member, Ligia Lopez teacher a volunteer how to carve gourds

Gourd art is a traditional Nicaraguan handcraft. It is painstaking work requiring great skill. The ornamental gourds have been used for thousands of years by indigenous peoples and peasants as cups, spoons, and as containers to carry fluids. The calabash gourds are natural thermoses and make excellent canteens. They are still used today as large spoons for Nicaraguan soups, or as cups for traditional rice and corn drinks. Today, they are also used for decorative art.




Mujeres En Accion,Managua. 12 de Abril 2007. Fotos LA PRENSA/Charlie Thomas

The members of Women in Action have revived this art work as a way to continue native crafts and raise money.  Lilliam Molinares, one of the original Women in Action members, learned the art of carving gourds as a young girl. Against the advice of her father, who thought she was too young and would cut her fingers, Lilliam secretly attended a women’s gourd carving cooperative.   



After learning to carve, her family moved and Lilliam gave up the art until she became a member of Women in Action in January 2001.  When the group was considering an arts and crafts project, Lilliam stepped forward and offered to teach the women to carve gourds.

Over the years, the women have learned to create their own unique artwork that combines gourd carving with the traditional art of braiding the trunks of banana trees. The results are remarkable and the art from is truly one of a kind. 

Their unique, hand-crafted gourds make wonderful gifts. They can be used as plant holders, bird houses, as kitchen containers, or as decorations. With the money received from the sale of their gourds, the women are able to better support their families. 

We are hoping to find local contacts interested in selling gourds. Gourds are currently available at our stateside office in New Hampshire. Prices range from about $5 to $15. If you are interested in purchasing a gourd, or in being an outlet for sales, please contact Compas.