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Why are the Chinese names of certain vegetables based of off directions (North, South, East, West?)

Also, why does a specific direction mean a certain vegetable? (I.e do watermelons come from the West?)

There must be a historical significance of these names. direction and vegetables

  • It is 冬瓜 (winter melon), there's no such thing as 东瓜 – Tang Ho Jul 22 '17 at 10:08
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The names of 西瓜 and 南瓜 seem to be relevant to the directions.

四五世纪时,由西域传入我国,所以称之为“西瓜”.据明代科学家徐光启《农政全书》记载:“西瓜,种出西域,故之名.”明李时珍在《本草纲目》中记载:“按胡娇于回纥得瓜种,名曰西瓜.则西瓜自五代时始入中国;今南北皆有.”

It is said that 西瓜 was introduce from 西域 (the Western regions, a Han Dynasty term for the area west of Yumenguan 玉门关, including what is now 新疆 and parts of Central Asia), then was named as 西瓜.

南瓜原产于南美洲,已有9千年的栽培史,哥伦布将其带回欧洲,以后被葡萄牙引种到日本、印尼、菲律宾等地,明代开始进入中国。李时珍在《本草纲目》中说:“南瓜种出南番,转入闽浙,今燕京诸处亦有之矣。二月下种,宜沙沃地,四月生苗,引蔓甚繁,一蔓可延十余丈……其子如冬瓜子,其肉厚色黄,不可生食,惟去皮瓤瀹,味如山药,同猪肉煮食更良,亦可蜜煎。”

南瓜传入中国有多条路径,但以广东、福建、浙江为最早。国人初期误以为南瓜来自日本,故名之为“倭瓜”,因日本在中国之东,所以又称南瓜为“东瓜”,此外还有进一步误会为产自朝鲜半岛,名之曰“高丽瓜”,而日本人则以为南瓜来自中国,所以称它为“唐茄子”(当时日本人将中国产品概称为唐物)。

到了清代中后期,南方南瓜沿大运河向北移栽,特别是山东,成了北方南瓜种植重镇,人们开始意识到此瓜应自南来,“南瓜”之称开始流行。

南瓜 is supposed to be introduced from the south, then got the name 南瓜.

BTW: 冬瓜 is not "东瓜",

冬瓜是本土作物,其最早记载见于魏人张揖的《广雅》:“冬瓜经霜后,皮上白如粉涂;其子亦白,故名白冬瓜。”可见名字本与方向无关。

冬瓜因瓜熟之际,瓜皮表面会蒙上一层白粉状的东西,很像冬天的白霜,因此,冬瓜也称为“白瓜”。

冬瓜's name came from the appearance and color of its peel, which looks like the hoar frost in the winter.

  • 東瓜 does exist! I found this interesting site dahu0985030569.wordpress.com/2015/11/07/… – udidosa Jul 23 '17 at 16:07
  • 北瓜 exists it seems. I don't understand much of what the writer is saying,but dahu0985030569.wordpress.com/2015/11/07/… – udidosa Jul 23 '17 at 16:08
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    @Urvil Basically 东瓜 is a wrong usage, especially when it's used with the same meaning of 冬瓜. 北瓜 does exist in some areas, but it's not a uniform name and doesn't have uniform meaning (as 西瓜 and 南瓜). Maybe there're just not 瓜 produced from the north and east and being accepted widely. Then 东西南北瓜 looks nothing more than a strained statement. – songyuanyao Jul 24 '17 at 5:10
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because our country is 中国.it means the country which is the center of the world.so if you are in the center then the things came from other place they must came from east or west or north.so we named them by the direction they came from.and we do have 北瓜 although I just heard it from my grandma and I dont know what it exactly is

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