Collected by Wang Ming-ji.
The opening line establishes the time of year. The hawthorn came into blossom in May, that is, before the onset of the summer rains.
The wine horns mentioned in the song were from water buffalo. The wide end of the horn where it joined the animal’s head was blocked in with wood and sealed with varnish. A hole was bored in through the tip of the horn and fitted with a stopper. The outside of the horn was decorated with a carved pattern and then lacquered. These horns were a convenient way of storing wine and most useful for pouring it into wine cups. They could also be easily carried with a leather thong attached to either end and slung over the shoulder.
The song reflects the old custom, now long discontinued, by which, instead of a rice bowl, each guest had a small basket for his rice or maize-meal. The meat and vegetables were placed in wooden bowls on the table. For eating, each guest was provided with a wooden spoon. The use of chopsticks and pottery basins came at a later date, copied from the Chinese. The duty of the waiters was to ensure that the guests’ rice baskets were kept full, and the basins of meat and vegetables, brimming.
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